What do schools have to do after July 19?
What do schools have to do after July 19 as we exit step 4 of the road map?
The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance for schools on operational measures related to take.
The guidance explains “As covid becomes a virus that we learn to live with, there is now an imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education – particularly given that the direct clinical risks to children are extremely low, and every adult has been offered a first vaccine and the opportunity for two doses by mid-September.”
In this support article, we provide an overview of the main changes and link to further information.
Mixing and bubbles
The DfE explains that it will no longer recommend that it is necessary to keep children in consistent groups (‘bubbles’). This means that bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision (for example, summer schools) or in schools from the autumn term.
The DfE notes as well as enabling flexibility in curriculum delivery, this means that assemblies can resume, and you no longer need to make alternative arrangements to avoid mixing at lunch.
You should make sure your outbreak management plans cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ for a temporary period, to reduce mixing between groups.
Any decision to recommend the reintroduction of ‘bubbles’ would not be taken lightly and would need to take account of the detrimental impact they can have on the delivery of education.
What do schools have to do after July 19? Face coverings
From Step 4, face coverings will no longer be advised for pupils, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas.
From Step 4, face coverings are also no longer recommended to be worn on dedicated transport to school or college and are no longer legally required on public transport.
If you have an outbreak in your school, a director of public health might advise you that face coverings should temporarily be worn in communal areas or classrooms (by pupils, staff and visitors, unless exempt).
Tracing close contacts and isolation
From Step 4, close contacts will 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 to identify close contacts. Contacts from a school setting will only be traced by NHS Test and Trace where the positive case 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. You may be contacted in exceptional cases to help with identifying close contacts, as currently happens in managing other infectious diseases.
From 16 August 2021, children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Instead, children 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.
When an individual develops COVID-19 symptoms or has a positive test
Pupils, staff and other adults should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do. They should not come into school if they have symptoms, have had a positive test result or other reasons requiring them to stay at home due to the risk of them passing on COVID-19 (for example, they are required to quarantine).
If anyone in your school develops COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, you should send them home and they should follow public health advice.
What do schools have to do after July 19?: Asymptomatic testing
Over the summer, staff and secondary pupils should continue to test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open, such as summer schools and out of school activities based in school settings.
Regular testing will then pause in schools over the summer if they are closed. However, testing will still be widely available over the summer and kits can be collected either from your local pharmacy or ordered online.
As pupils will potentially mix with lots of other people during the summer holidays, all secondary school pupils should receive 2 on-site lateral flow device tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn term.
Settings may commence testing from 3 working days before the start of term and can stagger return of pupils across the first week to manage this. Pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed.
Staff should undertake twice weekly home tests whenever they are on site until the end of September, when this will also be reviewed. Secondary schools should also retain a small asymptomatic testing site (ATS) on-site until further notice so they can offer testing to pupils who are unable to test themselves at home.
There is no need for primary age pupils (those in year 6 and below) to test over the summer period. They will be offered the 2 tests at an ATS at the beginning of the autumn term when they start at their secondary school as a new year 7.
Schools may choose, however, to start testing year 6 pupils earlier, including in summer schools, depending on their local circumstances.
What do schools have to do after July 19?: Remote education
You should maintain your capacity to deliver high quality remote education for next academic year, including for pupils who are abroad, and facing challenges to return due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, for the period they are abroad.
If you are an Edapt subscriber and have concerns about changes to guidance after July 19th you can contact us for further advice and support.
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