Covid-19 Control Measures and Variants of Concern
Further to the easing of restrictions on 17 May, it is important that control measures are maintained in schools such as bubbles & one way systems.
Whilst cases in county are low, the incidence of positive cases in school still have the potential to cause significant disruption to school operation and learning. Testing programmes should be maintained to continue to detect cases early. It is equally important for those who have been vaccinated do continue to test, particularly as they may be carrying the infection but not be exhibiting any symptoms.
The county has experienced a handful of variants of concern/variants under investigation (VOC/VUI) cases which have been linked to travel and contained no evidence of wider community transmission. However, it is important to keep in mind that VUIs and VOCs remain a national threat and we need to remain vigilant. This includes maintaining measures to keep schools COVID-19 secure such as bubbling, staggered start and finish times, following the rules around hands, face, space and fresh air, regular testing and taking up the vaccine when eligible. Further information from the DfE is detailed below.
Further easing is anticipated on 21 June and updates on the implications for schools will be notified in due course.
Variants of Concern (VOC)
A variant of COVID-19 is classified as ‘of concern’ if there are signs it could:
- cause more harm
- be more easily transmitted
- escape immunity from previous infection or vaccinations
It can take weeks of research to establish this in newly identified Variants of Concern (VOC), which is why immediate action is needed to contain the spread.
In areas where VOCs are identified, local action is taken immediately to limit the spread and contain the variant. The more cases we find, the better chance we have of stopping it spreading.
Schools and colleges will be offered surge testing using PCR tests if they are in an area identified as having cases of a COVID-19 VOC. The Local Authority Director of Public Health is responsible for deciding the exact operational response under the contingency framework.
The same national guidance continues to apply in areas where new variants have been identified and education settings can remain open. All pupils and staff should continue to follow national guidance, including ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’.
We strongly encourage staff and students in areas of VOC to take a rapid self-test (LFD) test twice a week, even if you don’t have symptoms.