The Nathanson Partnership are pleased to provide this three part update specifically for schools and students. With the last 18 months being the most challenging for schools, students and parents, we recognise that everyone is keen to get back to some form of “normal”.
As restrictions are being lifted and vaccinations are administered to young adults and children, the UK enters the next phase in the government’s response to the pandemic. In an effort to reduce the disruption to children and young adults, the government recognises that face-to-face education needs to be prioritised. It is expected that students will return to school in a few weeks’ time.
The Home Office has worked closely with various government departments including the Department of Health & Social Care as well as Public Health England. The guidance was published at the beginning of this summer, and is continually being updated.
Our three part series covers:
- Part 1 – Is it safe to go back to school? Education providers’ requirements
- Part 2 – Control measures : Requirements and recommendations
- Part 3 – Visa and immigration requirements
Although this information is provided now, this is a “live” document. This means that changes could occur at any time and in response to the infection rate.
It is important to note that 18-year-olds will be treated as children until 6 months after their 18th birthday. This will allow them to get fully vaccinated. Once they complete the full vaccination course (2 doses), they will be subject to the same rules as adults. Should they opt not to get vaccinated, they will be required to self-isolate if identified as a close contact.
PART 1 – Education providers’ requirements
The UK government has published guidelines for schools, colleges and universities to comply with and aid in combating the spread of the Coronavirus. This has been subdivided into:
- Risk Assessment
- Mixing & “bubbles”
- Track & Trace
- Face coverings
Education providers must review and update their own risk assessments regularly. This means that they must keep up-to-date with any changes in public health advice issued by the government and they must have active and effective controls in place. They have a duty of care to ensure that their students and staff are safe from the virus,
MIXING & BUBBLES
In the last academic year, the government advocated “bubble” for students to remain in consistent groups. This is no longer a recommendation and not required for the autumn term. The government has confirmed that students can now attend assemblies and school events, and more importantly, from a social aspect, mix during their lunch breaks.
That said, schools and education providers have to make sure that they have contingency plans ready in case their area has to reintroduce the “bubble” system to reduce the spread of the virus.
TRACK & TRACE
The NHS Test and Trace app is well underway and stable enough for the government to make changes to any rules or restrictions. This means that education providers are no longer required to carry out their own contact tracing.
The NHS Test and Trace will work with the person who has tested positive, if not their parent. It is important to understand that the NHS Test and Trace only works well if the positive case and/or parent specifically identifies everyone they have been in close contact with.
The government has confirmed that individuals are no longer require to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 are a close contact with someone with COVID-19, and they are:
- fully vaccinated
- below 18 years and 6 months old
- have taken part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- unable to get vaccinated for medical reasons.
NHS Test and Trace will contact those who have been in close contact with a positive case and asked to take a PCR test. It is recommended that staff who do not need to isolate as well as children under 18 years and 6 months should continue to attend school.
Although staff who do not need to isolate as well as children and young people (under 18 years and 6 months) who usually attend school and have been identified as a close contact should continue to attend school, they may not need to wear a face covering within school. However, they should continue to wear a mask when travelling on public or dedicated transport and must adhere to any public face covering requirements. This also includes but is not limited to, enclosed and crowded spaces where there is contact with strangers.
Education providers have been informed that a director of Public Health could enforce the use of face coverings in communal areas or classrooms in the event of an outbreak. It is hoped that this will be on a temporary basis.
Exemptions have been provided for transparent face coverings that can aid communication such as lip reading or allowing full visibility of facial expressions. Education providers have a duty of care to ensure that disabled pupils continue to have support and access to fair education.
The key to success is monitoring the spread of the virus and acting promptly. Education providers are required to have set contingency plans also known as outbreak management plans, in place. This should outline the actions required should a pupil or member of staff test positive. It must include a plan of operation too. Response should be swift and concise. The government has provided some guidelines on this plan which will become the contingency framework to help limit the increase in transmission of the virus.
The second part of this series covers other related and important issues such as :
- control measures
- remote learning
- school trips
Part 3 will cover travel and quarantine including visa requirements and exemptions. Please contact us for further information or if you require any assistance.