It is also important to remember that any pupil who is unwell (whether that’s with symptoms of Covid-19 or with symptoms of other infections) should not attend. Schools and childcare settings will be able to advise on exclusion criteria for symptoms of other infections.
Guidance on contact tracing following a positive case in schools and registered childcare settings has been updated to improve the clarity of what is required. As has been the case since schools returned in August, all fully vaccinated staff and pupils who are identified as a high-risk close contact will be asked by Test and Protect to self-isolate until they have returned a negative PCR test. For children and young people, a high-risk close contact is most likely to be household members, or anybody who they have stayed overnight with. If you are contacted by Test and Protect, please assist them by both completing the online form quickly, and contacting your school and/or childcare setting as soon as possible to let them know why your child is absent. This will help us to minimise the risk of any onward transmission.
All other contacts are considered to be low-risk; this may include classmates, for example, but wouldn’t typically extend as far as year groups or whole schools. For these low-risk close contacts, we know that they and their families will want to remain informed and take action to minimise the likelihood of wider outbreaks, and so schools and childcare settings will issue a targeted Information Letter with appropriate advice. For children attending childcare and primary school, these letters will confirm that they should continue to attend if well, and that parents can support children to take an LFD test before returning if they and their child wish to do so. Free at-home LFD test kits are available for you and your children by collection from COVID test centres or pharmacies, or delivery by ordering online. Parents may wish to ensure they have a pack of test kits available in case of positive cases in their child’s class or childcare cohort. However, there continues to be no need to test regularly as part of attending childcare or primary school.
Secondary school pupils should also continue to attend if well, but the letter advises that they take a lateral flow test before they next return to school wherever possible, and continue with twice-weekly lateral flow testing and reporting of all results (positive, negative or void) thereafter. Free test kits are available to all secondary school children from the school. Please contact the school directly if they have any problems accessing tests.
I hope that this provides helpful clarification of the recent changes in approach to Covid-19. In closing, I’d particularly like to add my sincere thanks and recognition of the immense efforts by you and your families to protect yourselves and your communities during these challenging times.