Public Health guidance for schools

Public Health guidance for schools

BRADFORD COUNCIL PUBLIC HEALTH

 

COVID-19 guidance and resources for schools and colleges

Updated 1 September 2021

 

Key messages

26 August 2021

The most recent figures from ONS show over 95% of adults from age 25yrs upwards and 83% of young people between 16-24yr have Covid-19 antibodies (either through vaccination or natural infection). This significantly reduces their risk of serious disease and hospitalisation although doesn’t totally reduce the risk of transmission. Serious complications in young people remain low.

Opening up the vaccine programme to all 16-17yrs and vulnerable 12-17yrs will boost antibodies in this group further. Children & young people leaflets for the COVID-19 programme are available to order from the DHSC Health Publications website. They include information on which children are eligible and details on those who are at risk.

Our remaining group for high continuing transmission is secondary age who have higher rates than primary and pre-school children. The latest Government/DfE guidance is very clear on prioritising the education and wellbeing of children through maximising school attendance so thresholds for COVID response action have been raised.

We will continue with our collaborative approach between Public Health and Education Departments in the Council to support schools in partnership with PHE. The updated guidance on this page will detail how this will work from the Autumn term.

 

Guidance and resources

 

Preparing for autumn term

6 September 2021

The Covid Response Measures directorate recorded a webinar last week  to remind school and college leaders of the changes that came into effect from step 4 (19 July) and to provide an update on COVID-19 management advice. The webinar cover topics like Covid-19 controls, vaccination, on-site testing, and answers to FAQs about self-Isolation of non-vaccinated staff, ATS, new definition of close contact and contact tracing, and ventilation.

You can access the webinar on the Google DriveRef. RP158 Preparing for Autumn Term  

 

Asymptomatic testing in schools

Includes guidance for on-site testing on return to school

23 August 2021

As part of the new measures for Covid-19 control announced after 17 August 2021, secondary schools and colleges have been advised to set up Asymptomatic Testing Sites (ATS) once again and offer to all pupils two Lateral Flow Device (LFD) rapid tests 3-5 days apart for the return to school. This can begin up to three working days before school starts and can be staggered over the week as it was in the return in March 2021.

Thereafter, all pupils and staff of secondary schools, as well as all staff of primary schools and early years settings should resume twice weekly home LFDs until the end of September when further guidance will be issued.

See below for additional resources and guidance.

Staff with pupil facing roles who develop Covid-19 symptoms have an additional channel to book a PCR test by calling 01274 437070 or sending an email to COVID19.stafftesting@bradford.gov.uk.

 

About home testing

23 August 2021

When choosing when to do your home test, we recommend that on test is done on the Monday morning to ensure less of a chance of someone becoming infectious while in school. The second weekly test can be taken on Wednesday or Thursday morning.

Test kits used at home can be disposed of with normal domestic waste, but we advise to pouring any residual buffer solution away first. As set out in the manufacturer’s safety instructions, the buffer solution is not hazardous; however, if accidentally ingested, a medical practitioner should be informed.

Positive tests can be disposed in the same fashion as above.

 

*Outbreak management - NEW GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOLS

1 September 2021

 

From September 2021 the Covid-19 strategy for schools will change to a focus on protecting school attendance and responding to higher-risk outbreak scenarios. Bradford council has updated previsou guidance and the system of support to school. The main changes and advice are outlined below:

  • Schools’ operations will return to pre-Covid standards with the end of teaching in bubbles and social distancing and no restrictions to types of activities

  • Use of face coverings will no longer be advised in school premises, but will still be advised in school dedicated transport and public transport in general
  • Schools will be required to maintain good hygiene, regular cleaning, good ventilation, and prompt isolation of suspect Covid-19 cases as key control measures
  • Schools will no longer be required to trace contacts; NHS Test and Trace will take this over and only contact the school for support in exceptional cases
  • Children under 18 yrs. and adults fully vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate if identified as contacts of a case; instead, they will be advised to take a PCR test
  • The recommended threshold to look for public health advice has been raised to 5 linked cases within 10 days among students or staff within the school 
  • Bradford Council will remain as the first point of contact for schools looking for advice on outbreak management, and will escalate complex situations to PHE/HPT
  • The DfE helpline will continue to provide public health advice and escalate issues to PHE/HPTs as indicated
  • The previous escalating system of response for single cases, clusters and outbreaks will be replaced by a two-tiered system 
  • Cases identified within the test-on-return period through on-site testing at school should not trigger extra measures or escalation to the DfE helpline

See below the full guidance with details on reporting and actioning support:

 

Wellbeing and economic support 

23 August 2021

If you are required to self-isolate by law and as a result you canot work from home and/or lose income, you might be able to get a self-isolation support payment of £500 if you fit one of the following situations:

  • If you test positive for coronavirus
  • If you are a close contact of a coronavirus case and you have not been fully vaccinated
  • If you’re the parent or guardian of a child or young person who has tested positive and been told to self-isolate

If you want to apply as a parent or guardian, the child or young person you will look after must:

  • be 15 or under, or 25 or under if they have an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC)
  • live with you
  • normally be at school or in childcare
  • have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or their school or childcare provider

Any application must be received within 42 days of the start of your self-isolation period. You’ll also need to show evidence that your child has been told to self-isolate.

Click here for more information about the self-isolation support payment. 

Bradford Council and Community Action have also put together a comprehensive self-help and support booklet which covers from mental health to furlough and financial support for families. Please have a few copies handy in school.

See below for additional resources and guidance.

 

Communication with parents and the public

We have produced a document with the most frequent queries received from parents and the public about school's preparedness to deal with Covid-19 and how to deal with Covid-related situations - see below.

You might also want to check this template letter for parents:


 
Responding to media enquiries

Bradford Council communications team has put together some suggested responses for press enquiries. Please refer to these before answering to press inquiries. If your school's situation, or the enquiry is particularly complex, and you would like communications support with media interest, 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.

 

Other relevant topics

 

Variants of Concern (VOC) or Under Investigation (VUI)

Updated 23 August 2021

Variants Under Investigation (VUI) are Covid-19 variants that have concerning characteristics in terms of their infectiousness, their ability to evade protection from COVID vaccines, and the severity of illness they cause. The most worrying are termed Variants of Concern (VOC). The best way to contain the spread of new variants is to tackle the transmission of Covid-19 as a whole, using the same system of controls currently in place for schools. In this way we minimise the spread of Covid-19, reduce the chance of mutations, and pick up cases or clusters that may need further attention.

New Covid-19 variants are monitored by PHE. There are currently 8 VUI and 5 VOC circulating which have been detected by UK labs. The Council is informed of any residents with VOC/VUI in the District in order to trigger enhanced surveillance or other actions if needed. If you are interested to know more please check here.

 

Testing of returning travellers including test-to-release schemes

Updated 23 August 2021

The only significant change to travel rules from 19 August 2021 was that returning travellers coming from amber list countries who have been fully vaccinated with a UK NHS vaccine more than 14 days before their returning date are no longer required to self-isolate after arrival. 

Returning travellers from amber list countries who do not have fully vaccinated status are still eligible for theTest to Release for International Travel scheme, which consists in voluntarily paying for a private COVID-19 test to leave quarantine after 5 days of self-isolation: 
–       If the result is negative, they can end quarantine, but they still need to take the test on or after day 8.
–       If the result is positive, they need to quarantine for another 10 days, alongside their household contacts.
–       If the result is inconclusive, they can choose to take another privately provided test but must continue to quarantine.

Schools should allow students or staff who have opted-in for this scheme to return to school before the end of the ten days of quarantine, provided the scheme was correctly followed as above, and the school is able to see evidence of two negative PCR tests taken on or before day 2 and on or after day 5 of arrival in England.

This scheme cannot be used if the traveller is returning from a red list travel ban country. PCR tests provided by NHS Test and Trace or any LFD tests cannot be used under this scheme – there is a list of private test providers on the Government website. 

 

How to count self-isolation periods 

Updated 23 August 2021

  • For symptomatic confirmed cases: day 0 = day symptoms start, self-isolation starts next day = day 1 to 10, day 11 = can return to school
  • For asymptomatic confirmed cases: day 0 = day the first test was done, self-isolation starts next day = day 1 to 10, day 11 = can return to school (when a confirmatory PCR is taken after a positive LFD, self-isolation should still count from the day after the LFD test)
  • For asymptomatic confirmed cases where new symptoms start after the test is done: restart your 10 days of self-isolation, day 1 = day symptoms start, self-isolation = day 1 to 10, day 11 = can return to school
  • For selected close COVID contacts (adults without a full Covid-19 vaccination completed): day 0 = day the first person in the household/school developed symptoms or, if they do not have symptoms, day their test was taken; self-isolation of the contact starts next day = day 1 to 10, day 11 = close contacts can return to school
  • When identifying contacts of a COVID case, you should include the two full days (rather than exact 48h) prior to the date the test was collected or the date that symptoms started

For more detail refer to the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who do not live with the person.

 

Overlapping and extended self-isolation periods

Updated 23 August 2021

  • How long do I need to self-isolate for if I develop COVID-19 symptoms? 

If someone develops COVID symptoms, they must self-isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms (or test date). Their household and other contacts will only need to self-isolate if there are any adults not fully vaccinated.  After they completed the self-isolation period (10 days) the episode is over and they can go back to their normal routine, provided they have improved symptoms and have not had a fever for 48h.

  • What if while I am isolating after testing positive for COVID other members of my household test positive?

If you are already COVID positive or self-isolating as a contact, you do not need to extend self-isolation if other household members develop symptoms during your isolation. This is because people in the household who remain well after 10 days are unlikely to be infectious. Only new symptomatic or positive cases should start a new 10-day isolation period.

  • What happen if I have recently finished a period of self-isolation and I am identified as a close contact of a positive COVID case (either within or outside the household)?

If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some short-term immunity to the disease. However, it is not certain that will happen for everyone who has had COVID-19, nor do we know how long any immunity to the disease might last.

Therefore, if you are notified that you are a contact of someone who has had a positive test result for COVID-19, and you are an adult who has not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, you must self-isolate again.

Please see this illustration about self-isolation periods in a household.

 

Additional resources

 

Archive

This section contains resources and messages that were used to support the school's response to Covid-19 between September 2020 and August 2021. Although most recommendations in the following documents are not routine advice anymore, some might be useful in outbreak scenarios. 

 

Do COVID tests invalidate Ramadan fasting?

With the start of the Ramadan month, we understand that some may show reluctance to take a COVID test as it requires the swab to occur through the mouth to the throat. Some may consider anything passing the lips as invalidating the fast.

The below link is from the BIMA (British Islamic Medical Assoc) who endorse the view that taking the test does not invalidate the fasting:

https://britishima.org/operation-vaccination/hub/statements/#RAMADANPCR

However, we are aware that individual views may differ on this matter, and we have to respect those different views. You may also have received advice from your local Islamic Scholars.

For those who are not wishing to take a test whilst fasting, we recommend taking the test at home once they have opened their fast in the evening. Rapid lateral flow tests can now be accessed by any adults in England for self-testing at home. You can collect a pack containing 7 tests from your school or workplace, from community testing centres or pharmacies, or order a test kit online or by phone (119, 7am to 11pm, free call). 

 

Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) individuals (previously advised to “shield”)

Since January 2021, cases of COVID-19 have fallen across the country and in Bradford, reducing the risk of catching the virus for everyone, including the most vulnerable. Shielding has only ever been a temporary measure to protect the most vulnerable during peaks of the pandemic, and current Government advice is that vulnerable people no longer need to shield. Clinically extremely vulnerable people must follow the rules that are in place for everyone. However, we still advise CEV people to continue to take extra precautions to protect themselves and minimise the risk of exposure to the virus. 


 

 


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