Since returning from the half-term break our COVID-19 rates have remained low amongst students and staff. We hope that the rates will continue to remain low, although we may see a small rise in cases now we are all back in school. Thank you for your ongoing support for the school with managing the COVID-19 situation, in constantly changing circumstances. Earlier this week the Government made some significant COVID-19 announcements regarding changes to self-Isolation and testing. Here are the key points from the Government guidance that they have just issued to schools (these are mostly direct quotes from the guidance document):
- From Thursday 24 February, the Government is removing the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. However, adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five full days, and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received two negative test results on consecutive days, from Day 5 onwards.
- If a pupil with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 attends school, the school can take the decision to send the pupil home if, in our reasonable judgement, it is necessary to protect other pupils and staff from possible infection with COVID-19. The ‘Schools COVID-19 operational guidance’, produced by the Department for Education (DfE), states that “If anyone in your school develops COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, you should send them home and they should follow public health advice”.
- Routine contact tracing will end. Fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 will no longer be asked to test daily for seven days, and close contacts who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be required to self-isolate.
- More details can be found in the Living with COVID-19 plan. Further details will be published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on Thursday 24 February.
- With immediate effect, the Government has removed the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice-weekly asymptomatic testing.
- In the event of a COVID-19 outbreak within the school, the school will be able to order tests to distribute to staff and pupils, if advised to do so by the Public Health team.
- All staff and students will continue to be able to access test kits from their local pharmacy or online.
- Anyone with symptoms should take a PCR test, stay at home and follow Government guidance if positive. People who have tested positive will continue to be advised to stay at home for five full days and then receive two negative test results on consecutive days before returning to their workplace or setting.
- Staff and pupils who test positive should use any test kits they already have at home to undertake testing on days five and six, before returning to school if they test negative. If they do not have test kits, they should order them online via gov.uk.
- The regulations requiring education settings to provide remote learning to pupils isolating for COVID-related reasons lapse on 24 March. Therefore, schools are only legally required to continue to provide remote learning in these circumstances until that date.
- From Friday 1 April, the Government will no longer provide free to order universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England. The Government will update guidance on the steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other people accordingly.
In summary, this is the school’s current position in response to the guidance (this may change in response to any changes in the Government guidance or in our own circumstances):
- The school no longer receives supplies of test kits which we can distribute to students and staff. Therefore the twice-weekly testing programme has now ceased with immediate effect
- If your child has COVID-19 symptoms they should “take a PCR test, stay at home and follow Government guidance if positive”, as stated in the Government guidance. Here is a link to where you can access a PCR test https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
- If the school suspects that a student has COVID-19, because they are presenting COVID-19 symptoms, we will continue to contact a parent and ask them to collect their child immediately and seek a PCR test
- The school aims to continue to provide work for students who are self-isolating, until further notice
We will continue to update you on any changes in the Government’s guidance as we get it