Government Guidance from 8 March 2021
Following the government announcements on Monday, further advice will be issued by the end of the week to reflect FAQs on the newly issued guidance here.
The guidance covers all school settings and from 8th March all pupils should attend school.
- Review and, if necessary, update your risk assessment. The GCC risk assessment guidance/template and inspection checklist is currently under review and will be reissued at the end of this week to assist schools in this process.
- Systems of controls should be very similar to the Autumn term and the school community should be reminded of them.
- Put a contingency plan in place for outbreaks, should they occur
- Communicate any changes to parents
The key changes in the guidance are:
- Attendance is mandatory and X codes should only be used if a child is self isolating due to Covid-19. Schools should use code Y for secondary pupils not expected to be attending school during the first week due to asymptomatic testing programmes.
- It is recommended that secondary schools extend the use of face coverings to classrooms or any activities where social distancing cannot be maintained. This will be for a limited time and will be reviewed at Easter.
- Education visits are not advised at this time.
- All wraparound care should resume . Parents should only access this if it is reasonably necessary to support them to work, seek work, undertake education or training, attend a medical appointment or address a medical need or attend a support group. Schools can also offer it as part of the school’s educational activities (including catch-up provision) and to support children to obtain a regulated qualification or meet the entry requirements of an education institution.
- CEV staff and students should not attend school until advised to do so.
From 8th March, primary school staff should continue to test twice weekly. There are no plans for the testing of primary school aged children as there is insufficient evidence to prioritise testing of this group and repeat testing is likely to be unpleasant.
Schools should plan to test secondary aged students 3 times on site, and once at home, on their return; twice weekly home testing should resume thereafter. The rationale is that secondary aged children transmit Covid-19 at a similar rate to adults and are often asymptomatic. By testing 3 times on site, students should become familiar with the process and confident enough to carry out testing at home. Some capacity should remain on site for those unable to test at home. Testing of students should not start prior to the 8th March unless they are within eligible groups who can currently attend. Schools have the flexibility to phase the testing of students over the first week from 8th March, depending on their circumstances and local arrangements, but vulnerable children, children of critical workers and year groups 10 to 13 should be prioritised. Pupils should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result.
Secondary school staff will move to home testing from 8th March. We are seeking clarity as to whether this can commence earlier.
In all cases, testing is voluntary and any staff and students who do not wish to participate should be able to attend site in line with any phased return.
Staff and students who have a positive LFD test at home should self-isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test. People with symptoms need to self-isolate and arrange a PCR test in the usual way.
An updated set of FAQs is being developed and a webinar is planned for early next week to address planning issues and outstanding questions on testing; details to follow. PHE are also running webinars every Thursday which will be a refresher in breaking the chain of infection and managing cases and outbreaks; details were circulated yesterday.