Covid-19 Update for Schools

No doubt you’ll have been glued to the TV to hear the UK Government’s plans for a route out of lockdown. The main factor that we’ll deal with today are the updates required to allow children to return to school, in England, on the 8th March. There are some changes that will be needed, with the main focus this time around being on secondary schools.

 

 

Changes for all schools

  • From the 8th March, attendance at school will now be compulsory for all school children in England.
  • Some members of staff will still be required to shield if they have been identified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, even if they have received the vaccine. The government will keep this under review with the expectation that most of this group will have been vaccinated by group 6 of the Vaccinate Priority Group list. You may be able to provide alternative work for these persons to allow them to work from home. The identification of these groups will be via a shielding letter which the school is entitled to request sight of.
  • Classes will remain in bubbles. There are no requirements to reduce class sizes from normal sizes.
  • Wraparound care, such as breakfast or afterschool clubs are permitted to operate. Care should be taken to ensure that mixing between bubbles does not occur unduly.
  • School transport should continue. Consideration should be given to: maintaining social distancing, keeping bubbles together, organising queueing and boarding, and the use of facial coverings for all person aged 11 and over.
  • Educational visits are still not advised.
  • PE should be undertaken externally wherever possible, however indoor lessons can be used providing that additional precautions over hygiene and cleaning are implemented. External facilities can be used provided that guidance on transport, and the site rules for the facility, are followed.
  • Temporarily, there is no requirement to follow up a positive lateral flow test with a PCR test. A positive lateral flow test is sufficient to confirm that the individual should isolate. Isolation periods remain at 10 days.

 

Primary Schools

  • Your current controls will continue from the 8th March.
  • There is an acceptance that younger children will find it difficult to social distance and so this is no longer required within these bubbles.
  • Lateral Flow Testing for staff should be continued as implemented presently. There are no plans to test children in primary schools at the present time.
  • Face coverings should be worn by staff wherever possible in circulation areas.

 

Secondary Schools

 

  • Mass testing, using Lateral Flow Testing, must be undertaken on every pupil returning to school from the 8th March. This must be completed every 3 / 4 days for three iterations. Schools will be able to stagger the return to school to accommodate this testing.
  • Once the mass testing has been completed, students can move to home testing. We would urge you not to underestimate the administration burden of doing this. The test subject will be required to submit results via the NHS portal, however as schools do not have access to this system, the results will need to be shared with the school separately. This will require a system of registering results, which for a large student population could be a substantial task.

 

  • Facial coverings should now be worn by staff and pupils throughout the school, including in classrooms. If ease of understanding is required, for example due to lip reading or similar, then a face shield should be worn by the staff member. There is an appreciation, however, that face shields are not as effective as facial coverings and will need to be cleaned regularly.
  • Facial coverings are not required in lessons such as PE where the wearing of them would prevent the impact on the ability of pupils to take part.

 

Special Schools

 

  • Your current controls will continue from the 8th March.
  • School now have flexibility in allowing children who are identified as clinically extremely vulnerable to return to school if there are at risk from wider issues such as vulnerability, inability to access remote learning, or that their may be an impact on their wellbeing. In these cases we would strongly recommend that a risk assessment be undertaken so that any additional controls required are identified and that this is agreed in conjunction with the pupil / parents.
  • If a pupil is required to isolate due to COVID symptoms, and they have a social worker, then the social worker must be notified and a contact plan agreed for the child.
  • Where a pupil has an EHC, all therapies that would normally occur should be provided.
  • There is flexibility to utilise lateral flow testing, where possible, based upon the needs of the pupil and to include assisted testing. Swabbing for pupils can be limited to nasal swabbing if necessary. This should only be extended to pupils over the age of 11.

 

 

The updated guidance in full is available from these sources:

 

 

The guidance for asymptomatic testing and for providing school meals is under review at the present time and we expect revised advice to be published in the coming days.

ProAktive will be updating the risk assessments for primary, secondary and specialist settings which will be communicated shortly. If you do require specific advice, however please call our consultants on 01302 341344.

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