The Department for Education has published updated guidance on: Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak.
The guidance is intended to continue to support education settings during the coronavirus outbreak.
Key sections of the guidance include:
- Face coverings
- Tracing close contacts and isolation
- Remote education
What does this mean for children and young people returning to school in September 2021?
The Department for Education have updated guidance and removed restrictions on keeping children and young people in consistent groups (bubbles).
The government no longer recommend that it is necessary to keep children in bubbles. This means that bubbles will not need to be used in schools from the autumn term. This enables schools to have flexibility in curriculum delivery, this means that assemblies can resume and schools no longer need to make alternative arrangements to avoid mixing at lunch.
Face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas.
The government have removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.
Tracing Close Contacts and Isolation
Close contacts will now be identified via NHS Test and Trace and education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing.
As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case and/or their parent to identify close contacts. Contacts from a school setting will only be traced by NHS Test and Trace where the positive case and/or their parent specifically identifies the individual as being a close contact. This is likely to be a small number of individuals who would be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of the close contact.
Individuals are not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
- they are fully vaccinated
- they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test. The Department for Education encourage all individuals to take a PCR test if advised to do so.
Staff who do not need to isolate, and children and young people aged under 18 years 6 months who usually attend school, and have been identified as a close contact, should continue to attend school as normal. They do not need to wear a face covering within the school, but it is expected and recommended that these are worn when travelling on public or dedicated transport.
School attendance is mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age and it is a priority to ensure that as many children as possible regularly attend school.
Where appropriate, education settings should support those who need to self-isolate because they have tested positive, to learn from home if they are well enough to do so. Schools subject to the remote education temporary continuity direction are required to provide remote education to pupils covered by the direction where their attendance would be contrary to government guidance or legislation around COVID-19.
Full guidance can be found below.