As I communicated yesterday, the Government published their updated guidance around the changes they are making to the law for COVID and I shared with you.
I’ve now tried to outline the changes and expected changes . As you’ll have discovered if you read it, the guidance is not as clear as we would hope, and there are still many questions so thank you in advance for your understanding and support – as always.
These are no longer mandatory. Visitors and parents are not required to wear masks indoors unless they choose to do so.
Primary age children have only been recommended to test when there is a positive case in their class or if parents needed/chose to. We have always followed this advice, and while ever tests are freely available, we will continue to recommend this approach to protect children, staff and wider families linked to our school. For staff, the guidance changed on Monday afternoon, removing the recommendation for staff to routinely test. In line with the new guidance, I am recommending that staff test if they are unwell.
The law changed on 24th February and it is no longer a legal obligation to isolate. Instead, everyone should follow the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advice.
As we understand it, the UKHSA advice remains to isolate for five full days if an individual is showing symptoms. They should then have two negative tests before ending isolation after day 5 (testing on day 5 and day 6). There is therefore no expected change in the advice, just to the law enforcing that advice.
For schools, this places COVID on the same level as the current policy in place for when children have other infectious or potentially infectious illnesses – such as Chicken Pox or vomiting/diarrhoea. These require children to be clear of symptoms for a fixed period of time before returning to school (for example, for vomiting/diarrhoea this is 48hours clear).
At this point, and until the official UKHSA guidance is confirmed, I am unable to say what this policy will be definitively. However, we anticipate the period of time will be similar or the same as was required by law. School policy will be in line with UKHSA advice.
For the time being, in line with DFE guidance, we will not change our existing procedure for children with COVID symptoms (high temperature, new continuous cough, change of taste/smell) - an LFT should be carried out or, if you are unable to test your child, or testing positive to remain at home for five full days. This is to ensure the continued safety of other pupils, staff and their families. If they test negative, providing they are well, they may return to school.
If your child has no symptoms, but tests positive on a Lateral Flow test, we recommend they remain off school for five full days as well. Although your child may be symptom free, others might not be so lucky and continued attendance while knowingly positive poses a significant risk to others. Several families have household members or children with medical conditions that mean COVID could be life threatening – we’d hope families would make the right choice and keep their child off school if they test positive.
We will also continue to provide remote learning for COVID absence periods, as we have done.
As the guidance is made clearer, we will update our policy to match. Thank you for your understanding and patience.
As before, children do not learn well if they are unwell in themselves. Please avoid spreading illness to others and keep your child at home if they are unwell. This website may be helpful: Is my child too ill for school? - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
What is not changing?
We will continue to ventilate all spaces used by children and staff in school. Hygiene measures (hand washing and cleaning routines) will also remain in place. We will continue to monitor and report cases as required, and offer advice for families with positive cases.
I appreciate that the current changes may bring more questions than answers. Some families will be pleased to see the changes, while others will be extremely worried about what it means for them. As always, we will take a balanced approach, that aims to enable children to have all the opportunities we can provide, while keeping them as safe as we can.
I am proud of the way our school community, children, staff and parents have navigated the difficulties and challenges of the last two years, and I’m confident that whatever comes next, we will continue to show our school values in all we do to get through it all together.
Thank you for your understanding and support. As ever, if you have any specific concerns, please do get in touch and I will do my best to support you with them.