This is your email to keep you updated on the government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have colleagues who would like to receive this email directly, please ask them to use this subscription form.
Today’s email includes:
· information on daily testing for contacts of COVID-19
· an update on COVID-19 vaccinations
· information on the Air cleaning Marketplace which is now open
Daily testing for contacts of COVID-19
From Tuesday 14 December, a new national approach to daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 is being introduced (including until the end of this term). All adults who are fully vaccinated and children aged 5 to 18 years and 6 months, identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 – whether Omicron or not – should take a lateral flow device (LFD) test every day for 7 days instead of self-isolating. Daily testing by close contacts will help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 will help protect education settings by reducing transmission and will also help keep pupils in face-to-face education.
Once notified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact, all eligible staff, pupils and students should take an LFD each day for 7 days and report the results through the Online Reporting System and to their setting. If they test negative, they can continue to attend their education setting. Outside of the education setting, they should continue to follow the advice set out in the Sunday 12 December press release. This approach should also be adopted over the winter break and on return in January.
If they test positive, they should self-isolate and order a PCR test to confirm the result. If the PCR is positive, they must self-isolate for 10 days. If the PCR test is negative, they no longer need to self-isolate but should continue to carry out the remainder of the daily tests, and only need to isolate if it is positive.
All staff and secondary aged pupils and students should have access to a box of 7 LFD tests from their education setting. If your setting requires additional test kits sooner than they would be available through the standard ordering process, or will run out of test kits imminently, you can contact 119 to request an emergency replenishment. For primary aged children LFD test kits are available through the usual routes (community test sites, local pharmacies or online).
Children under five years old do not need to take part in daily testing for contacts of COVID-19 and do not need to isolate.
Anyone over the age of 18 years and 6 months who is not vaccinated, must isolate in line with government guidelines if they are a close contact of a positive case.
For students with SEND who struggle to or are unable to self-swab daily for 7 days, settings should work with students and their families to agree an appropriate testing route, such as assisted swabbing. Information on further support measures will be provided.
Finally, it is important to continue regular twice weekly, at-home testing for all education and childcare workforce and all students of secondary age and above.
Update on COVID-19 vaccinations
The new Omicron COVID-19 variant is spreading fast. Anyone who is unvaccinated or who hasn’t had their booster is at even greater risk from COVID-19 and more serious illness. Vaccines are the best way we can protect ourselves and help keep children and young people in face-to-face education.
People aged 18 years and over, and those aged 16 years and over who are at risk (including health and social care workers) will be offered a booster dose of coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. Please do encourage those in your settings to take up the booster dose.
You can pre-book your booster dose online if it’s been 2 months (61 days) since you had your 2nd dose and you are:
· aged 30 and over
· aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from COVID-19
· a frontline health or social care worker
You will be offered appointment dates from 3 months after the date of your 2nd dose.
16 and 17 year olds can get two doses of the COVID vaccine. They can book an appointment through the national booking service and walk in centres are available.
The Health and Social Care Secretary announced on Monday 29 November that young people aged 12 to 15 in England will be offered a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, following advice from JCVI. Parents of children aged 12-15 that have not yet had their first vaccine can book their child’s first vaccination slot over the winter break via the national booking system.
We ask schools, where possible, to direct parents to the out-of-school route as they break up for the winter holidays. In some cases, parents will be able to get their booster at the same time as their child getting their first vaccine.
Information on vaccination for 12 to 15 year olds can be found in the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 guidance.
Further information on the coronavirus booster vaccination and booking a vaccination can be found on NHS.UK.
An information leaflet on what to expect after vaccination is available to download or order.
Air cleaning Marketplace now open
Following our rollout of CO2 monitors to state funded education settings, feedback has highlighted that schools are finding the monitors helpful to manage ventilation. In the majority of settings, existing ventilation measures are sufficient.
In the very few cases where an area of poor ventilation (sustained CO2 readings above 1500ppm) has been identified and this cannot be resolved through opening windows and doors or minor repair works, it may be appropriate to consider the use of an air cleaning unit as an additional mitigation whilst further remedial work is undertaken to improve ventilation. Air cleaning units, when used properly, can help reduce airborne contaminants in a poorly ventilated space, including viruses like COVID-19. However, it should be noted that they are not a substitute for ventilation and should never be used as a reason to reduce ventilation.
We announced on 18 November that we would make a Marketplace available to provide settings with a route to purchasing air cleaning units.
The Air cleaning Marketplace is now open. The link will take you to a landing page which acts a shortcut to the relevant Crown Commercial Services (CCS) Framework. The Marketplace will allow you to purchase air cleaning units directly from suppliers at a suitable specification and competitive price.
The Marketplace is available for all state funded schools (primary and secondary), FE colleges and early years settings.
Alongside the Marketplace, the DfE has also published ‘how to’ guidance on using an air cleaning unit. This guidance sets out what to consider when deciding if an air cleaning unit is suitable for your setting, and how to use them.
The information below has not changed since our last update
Department for Education COVID-19 helpline
The Department for Education COVID-19 helpline and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) Advice Service, (formally the Public Health England (PHE) Advice Service) are available to answer any questions you have about COVID-19 relating to education and childcare settings and children’s social care.
Department for Education guidance
Our guidance to support education and childcare providers, local authorities and parents during the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed using the links below:
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