Public health guidance for schools

Public health guidance for schools

COVID-19 guidance for schools and colleges

Updated 12 April 2022

 

Following removal of all remaining domestic restrictions, the Government has published new guidance on how to live safely with COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. The national COVID-19 strategy is now focused on protecting people most vulnerable to COVID-19 while building community resilience and maintaining measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the general population.

Protecting children’s attendance to school is a national priority and all measures should be taken to avoid restrictions to face to face tuition.

The Council will continue to monitor the local impact of COVID-19, to support schools and childcare settings as they learn how to live with COVID-19, to make sure vaccine coverage is as universal as possible and to spread safety messages to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect those at highest risk.

 

Living safely with COVID-19

Government’s guidance and advice for educational settings has significantly changed from 1 April 2022. The DfE’s key documents Schools COVID-19 operational guidance and Contingency framework: education and childcare settings which were the main source for school leaders during the first two years of the pandemic were withdrawn on 1 April 2022.

A broader document “Emergency planning and response for education, childcare, and children’s social care settings” was published which outlines how educational settings should plan for and deal with emergencies and significant public health incidents, including infectious diseases. The following measures remain important to contain the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Let fresh air in if meeting indoors, or meet outside
  • Practise good hygiene: wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, clean your surroundings frequently
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
  • Get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and stay at home if positive

Get vaccinated

Getting a COVID-19 vaccine remains the most important isolated measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections such as flu in schools and communities. Vaccines are safe and protect against hospitalisation, death and long-term symptoms of COVID.

Children aged 5 or over are eligible to two doses of a COVID vaccine and those aged 16 or over and some between 12-15 can also receive a booster dose. However, vaccination uptake remains low among the younger age group in Bradford. Schools can play an important role of encouraging parents to attend vaccination centres for children or use the national booking service.

Check more information on vaccination here.

 

Let fresh air in

Opening a door or a window, even for a few minutes at a time, reduces the risk of catching respiratory infections. Trickle vents (small vents usually on the top of a window) or grilles can also be useful for bringing a little fresh air constantly. 

See further guidance on ventilation here.

 

Practice good hygiene

Following these basic rules of good hygiene will help to protect people from COVID-19 and other infections:

  • cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, with a tissue or your elbow
  • wash your hands with soap and water or, if not available, use a hand sanitizer
  • clean surfaces that are touched frequently

The GermDefence website provides scientifically proven advice on reducing the risks from COVID-19 and other viruses in your home.

 

Consider wearing a face covering

Wearing a face covering significantly reduces the risk of spreading or catching respiratory infections, including COVID-19. You should consider wearing a face covering:

  • if you are meeting people that you don’t usually meet in a crowded or enclosed space
  • if you have symptoms of a respiratory disease and is not able to stay at home
  • when you are coming into close contact with someone at higher risk of severe COVID-19

Face coverings are no longer recommended to those attending education or childcare settings.

 

Stay at home if you have respiratory symptoms or a positive COVID test

Although there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate, we advise that people with symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, particularly with people who have a high risk of becoming seriously ill if they get COVID-19. People can return to work or school when they no longer have a high temperature or no longer feel unwell.

Children and young people under 18 yrs. are no longer advised to test for COVID-19, unless directed by a health professional. If a child or young people have a positive COVID-19 test they should try to stay at home for 3 days after the test. Household contacts of someone with COVID-19 should continue to attend school as usual.

People aged 18 or over who get a positive COVID-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the test. If they need to leave their home during those 5 days, they should wear a face covering and avoid enclosed and crowded spaces. 

People who live in the same household of someone with COVID-19, or who stayed overnight in the same house, should reinforce measures to avoid spreading respiratory infections to other people for 10 days. They should avoid contact with people with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection and use a face covering if going to enclosed or crowded spaces.

Check more details on what to do if you have respiratory symptoms or a positive COVID test here.

 

Seek support

Please continue to report confirmed cases via this webform for the foreseeable future. This will enable us to continue to monitor infection rates across the district and support schools when necessary.

Please continue to seek support, advice or guidance as before – COVID-19 has not disappeared, and schools will still require assistance. 

 

Update your risk assessment and contingency plans

Schools are still expected to maintain an outbreak management plan in the event of:

  • a higher than previously experienced and/or rapidly increasing number of staff or student cases of COVID-19 or other respiratory illness
  • evidence of severe respiratory disease, for example if a student or staff member is admitted to hospital
  • a cluster of cases where there are a high number of individuals who are most vulnerable to COVID-19
  • a new and more dangerous COVID variant emerging leading to new Government guidance

Please also update your risk assessment to reflect the lifting of restrictions and remember that vaccination, ventilation, hands cleaning, and respiratory hygiene remain important to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.

 

 

Two years of local COVID response in Bradford

A successful partnership between LA, UKHSA and school leaders

 

During the last two years, the Council has implemented in partnership with school leaders and PHE (now UKHSA) a tiered response system to prevent and control COVID-19 spread in schools and to support local response to cases and outbreaks. This system consisted of:

  • Daily monitoring of COVID cases, clusters and outbreaks which were reported to the Council through the contact centre or a web form.
  • Phone calls to schools which reported a high number of cases or requested support when reporting cases.
  • Action cards locally produced to guide school leaders on how to respond to single cases, clusters and outbreaks.
  • Updated summaries of national guidance and key messages published on a dedicated Bradford Schools Online public health webpage.
  • A weekly education COVID-19 meeting which brought together Council’s public health and education officers, PHE, school leaders and the University of Bradford to discuss data, outbreaks and guidance.
  • The CAER webinars series for school leaders – initially focused on COVID management and over time including broader themes like mental health and wellbeing of pupils and staff affected by the pandemic.
  • Production of a self-help booklet produced in partnership with community partners like CABAD which covered everything from mental health, fuel and food poverty to furlough and financial support for families.

In addition to this system, the DfE maintained a dedicated coronavirus helpline available for all schools for guidance; and the PHE/UKHSA maintained a helpline to support schools to manage clusters and outbreaks. 

An asymptomatic regular testing programme for staff of all schools and childcare settings and pupils of secondary schools was in place from before free asymptomatic testing became available for the general public until it was ceased in February 2022. The Council invested significant efforts to deploy local asymptomatic testing programmes including onsite testing on school return. 

Schools have been in charge of identifying cases and outbreaks, tracing contacts and advising self-isolation since the Autumn 2020. This role was taken over nationally by the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing service as part of the Autumn and Winter Plan 2021and routine contact tracing was halted in February 2022. Bradford Council maintains until this date (April 2022) a local system for reporting cases and requesting support.

It has been an incredibly challenging two years for school leaders, council officers and UKHSA consultants who demonstrated an unprecedent combination of leadership, partnership, capacity and resilience in protecting the children and young people of Bradford. The lessons learned and relationships established will last well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Further advice

If schools have queries, they can still contact the DfE helpline on 0800 046 8687.

Martyn Hannan will continue as Education Covid Response Advisor and first point of contact for COVID related queries and issues - martyn.hannan@bradford.gov.uk.

The public health team will continue to provide backup support to schools with outbreaks, severe cases of COVID, new and more dangerous variants, or high numbers of vulnerable staff or students e.g., special schools.


Responding to media enquiries

Bradford Council communications team will continue to provide support for press enquiries – please refer to these suggested responses for press enquiries before answering to press inquiries. If your school's situation, or the enquiry is particularly complex, please contact:

Steve Hemming,  Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager
T: 07582 101 021 - Email: steve.hemming@bradford.gov.uk
Rebecca Smith, Marketing and Communications Officer
T: 07779 543 921 - Email: rebecca.smith@bradford.gov.uk
Council's Media and Communications Team  - Email: press.communication@bradford.gov.uk 

More general communications advice is available in the communications Toolkit page.

 


Page owned by Duncan Cooper, last updated on 25/04/2022. This page has been viewed 22,315 times.