Changes to measures and guidance for managing COVID-19 in education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April
On Tuesday 29 March, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, set out the next steps for living with COVID-19 in England from Friday 1 April.
Free COVID-19 tests will continue to be available for specific groups, including eligible patients and NHS staff, once the universal testing offer ends on Friday 1 April.
Updated guidance will advise:
- adults with the symptoms of a respiratory infection, and who have a high temperature or feel unwell, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature
- children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend
- adults with a positive COVID-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious. For children and young people aged 18 and under, the advice will be 3 days
The population now has much stronger protection against COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. This means we can begin to manage the virus like other respiratory infections, thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and access to antivirals, alongside natural immunity and increased scientific and public understanding about how to manage risk.
For education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April:
- regular asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended in any education or childcare setting, including in SEND, alternative provision and children’s social care settings. Therefore, settings will no longer be able to order test kits
- residential SEND settings may be advised by their local health protection team to re-introduce some time-limited asymptomatic testing. This would be an exceptional measure, for targeted groups of staff and pupils or students (secondary age or above) in the event of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. These settings are scheduled to receive an automatic delivery of contingency supply test kits during the week commencing Monday 28 March
- the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will publish new guidance. Most of the specific COVID-19 guidance for education and childcare settings will be withdrawn from GOV.UK on Friday 1 April. The operational guidance on the testing in education settings document sharing platform will also be removed on the same day
Reminder for education and childcare settings on distributing existing stocks of self-test kits
Now that regular asymptomatic testing in mainstream education and childcare settings is no longer advised, you may have surplus stock of self-test kits that are no longer required.
UKHSA will issue further communications in due course about how to manage any excess stock of test kits from Friday 1 April. Please do not hand out any test kits to staff, pupils, or students unless advised by your local health protection team, local authority or director of public health. Expired stock is classified as municipal waste and may be disposed of with other waste
Changes to the self-isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19
From Monday 17 January, people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with a lateral flow device (LFD) test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, they can return to their education or childcare setting immediately on day 6.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace.
If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest.
Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation.
Further information on self-isolation for those with COVID-19 is available.
Confirmatory PCR tests to be temporarily suspended for positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results
Confirmatory PCR tests following a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are to be temporarily suspended from Tuesday 11 January. This will mean that anyone who receives a positive LFD test result will be required to self-isolate immediately and will not be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
Clarification on the changes to the self-isolation period for individuals who test positive for COVID-19
Since Wednesday 22 December, the 10 day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason.
Individuals may now take LFD tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. This also applies to children under 5, with LFD testing at parental or guardian discretion. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to your education or childcare setting from day 7.
Daily testing for contacts of COVID-19
From Tuesday 14 December, a new national approach to daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 is being introduced (including until the end of this term). All adults who are fully vaccinated and children aged 5 to 18 years and 6 months, identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 – whether Omicron or not – should take a lateral flow device (LFD) test every day for 7 days instead of self-isolating. Daily testing by close contacts will help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 will help protect education settings by reducing transmission and will also help keep pupils in face-to-face education.
Once notified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, all eligible staff, pupils and students should take an LFD each day for 7 days and report the results through theOnline Reporting System and to their setting. If they test negative, they can continue to attend their education setting. Outside of the education setting, they should continue to follow the advice set out in the Sunday 12 December press release. This approach should also be adopted over the winter break and on return in January.
If they test positive, they should self-isolate and order a PCR test to confirm the result. If the PCR is positive, they must self-isolate for 10 days. If the PCR test is negative, they no longer need to self-isolate but should continue to carry out the remainder of the daily tests, and only need to isolate if it is positive.
All staff and secondary aged pupils and students should have access to a box of 7 LFD tests from their education setting. If your setting requires additional test kits sooner than they would be available through the standard ordering process, or will run out of test kits imminently, you can contact 119 to request an emergency replenishment. For primary aged children LFD test kits are available through the usual routes (community test sites, local pharmacies or online).
Children under five years old do not need to take part in daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 and do not need to isolate.
Anyone over the age of 18 years and 6 months who is not vaccinated, must isolate in line with government guidelines if they are a close contact of a positive case.
For students with SEND who struggle to or are unable to self-swab daily for 7 days, settings should work with students and their families to agree an appropriate testing route, such as assisted swabbing. Information on further support measures will be provided.
Finally, it is important to continue regular twice weekly, at-home testing for all education and childcare workforce and all students of secondary age and above.
Update on COVID-19 vaccinations
The new Omicron COVID-19 variant is spreading fast. Anyone who is unvaccinated or who hasn’t had their booster is at even greater risk from COVID-19 and more serious illness. Vaccines are the best way we can protect ourselves and help keep children and young people in face-to-face education.
People aged 18 years and over, and those aged 16 years and over who are at risk (including health and social care workers) will be offered a booster dose of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. Please do encourage those in your settings to take up the booster dose.
You can pre-book your booster dose online if it’s been 2 months (61 days) since you had your 2nd dose and you are:
|· aged 30 and over· aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19· a frontline health or social care worker|
You will be offered appointment dates from 3 months after the date of your 2nd dose.
16 and 17 year olds can get two doses of the COVID vaccine. They can book an appointment through the national booking service and walk in centres are available.
The Health and Social Care Secretary announced on Monday 29 November that young people aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from JCVI. Parents of children aged 12-15 that have not yet had their first vaccine can book their child’s first vaccination slot over the winter break via the national booking system.
We ask schools, where possible, to direct parents to the out-of-school route as they break up for the winter holidays. In some cases, parents will be able to get their booster at the same time as their child getting their first vaccine.
Information on vaccination for 12 to 15 year olds can be found in the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 guidance.
Further information on the coronavirus booster vaccination and booking a vaccination can be found on NHS.UK.
An information leaflet on what to expect after vaccination is available to download or order
Actions to take if an individual from your setting tests positive for COVID-19
If someone from your setting has a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test taken at home:
|· they should self-isolate straightaway and report their test result|
· they should book a confirmatory PCR test as soon as possible, either online, through the NHS COVID-19 app, or by calling 119 and continue to self-isolate whilst awaiting results of the PCR test
· any unvaccinated adults in their household should self-isolate whilst awaiting their PCR result, unless they are exempt
Settings are not expected to order PCR tests on behalf of their staff or students.
In accordance with the government guidelines, we would ask that parents are vigilant/alert. For all children who are attending school if they or anyone in their households develops any of the following symptoms they should not come into school and should inform the school of this. Thank you again for your continued co-operation.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms are the recent onset of any of the following:
a new continuous cough
a high temperature
a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
If your child or a member of their household has any of the 3 symptoms listed above could you please visit NIDIRECT.GOV.UK/CORONAVIRUS to book at test or call 119, letting the school know this on the 1st day of absence. Could you please ensure that once the test results are known the school is informed both via telephone and email before they return to school.
If you are self-isolating, please can we politely remind you that you should not be leaving your home which includes driving your child to school even if you come and remain in a car. If your child does not need to isolate, they can still come to school but would need to be brought in by another adult, please abide by the guidelines given. If you need any support or guidance, please contact the school office.