The government is currently issuing updated guidance on a regular basis through the Department for Education in response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. Some of the government guidance that we are following is available by clicking here.
This page contains the government guidelines that we are following, as well as our updated Risk Assessment and recent communication letters sent to families.
Effective Infection Protection and Control
The Department for Education has advised schools to take important actions to help prevent the spread of the virus. The spread of Coronavirus involves dealing with direct transmission (for instance, when in close contact with those sneezing and coughing) and indirect transmission (via touching contaminated surfaces).
The following is the set of actions that the government has directed schools to take in the latest updated guidelines:
Ensuring good hygiene
We have a large number of anti-viral/bacterial gel dispensers throughout our sites and we will continue to encourage all children, staff and visitors to use them frequently throughout the day. Equally, all toilets have sufficient hand basins and soap for use.
All children are reminded regularly about the importance of good hygiene practices in our form times or assemblies and to wash their hands for 20 seconds with running water and soap before drying them thoroughly. This is reinforced through the signage around the sites. All children wash their hands before eating and will be encouraged to do so when entering the buildings.
Our classrooms all have anti-viral/bacterial surface sprays and wipes for use by staff throughout the day.
Maintaining excellent cleaning regimes
Our maintenance teams continue to clean frequently touched surfaces during the day using detergents, computer/iPad wipes and Milton sterilising cleaner. Our cleaning teams continue to provide a nightly ‘deep clean’ every evening of all hard surfaces using Milton sterilising cleaner.
Keeping occupied spaces well ventilated
We have taken steps to ensure that fresh air flow is available in the classrooms and offices throughout the premises and that there is sufficient ventilation. It is a balancing act to increase ventilation while maintaining a comfortable working temperature.
Following public health advice at all times
This includes following the measures below, continuing to encourage asymptomatic Covid-19 testing for staff and senior pupils, with confirmatory PCR tests for those with a positive Lateral Flow test result.
Temperature Checks and Medication
Public Health England is clear that routinely taking the temperature of pupils is no longer recommended as this is an unreliable method for identifying Coronavirus. We will not take the children’s temperatures unless we suspect that a pupil has symptoms. Each school has several contactless digital infrared thermometers on standby.
Do not send children to school with a temperature, consistent cough or any other sickness. Do not try to mask a high temperature with Calpol or any other medicine.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Face Coverings
Face coverings are no longer advised to be worn by pupils, staff or visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas. Many of our older pupils travel to and from school independently via public transport, and face coverings should continue to be worn if using buses and/or trains.
The Government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings, but recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where there is close contact with people we don’t normally meet. Such circumstances might include any future trips that rely on public transport, in which case we will build the wearing of face coverings into our planning.
We respect that, depending on their own personal circumstances, people will feel differently about face coverings. Therefore, it will be the personal choice of our staff and senior pupils as to whether or not to wear face coverings in school. Similarly, while not compulsory, parents and visitors are welcome to wear face coverings whilst on the premises.
‘Bubbles’ and Social Distancing
The Department for Education no longer recommends that it is necessary to keep children in consistent ‘bubbles’. This means that activities such as assemblies can resume and we no longer need to make alternative arrangements to avoid mixing at break/lunch times or for communal activities.
Similarly, social distancing measures have now ended and it is no longer necessary for anybody to shield or work from home.
Asymptomatic Lateral Flow Testing
We are distributing the government’s home testing kits for all staff to enable them to carry out lateral flow tests at home twice each week. This will help to protect our staff when they are in school. We recommend testing on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Primary age pupils from Kindergarten to Year 6
Primary age pupils will not be tested with lateral flow tests. The government will continue to review this approach in the light of any emerging evidence.
Secondary age pupils from Year 7 to Year 11
All secondary age pupils at Normanhurst and Braeside are being given two on-site lateral flow tests 3 to 5 days apart, starting with the first on Monday 6 September. Thereafter, we will distribute the government’s testing kits for home testing twice weekly, ideally on Wednesdays and Sundays.
All testing is being conducted by specially-trained school staff in appropriately reorganised spaces that have been set up in accordance with NHS and Public Health England guidelines.
Lateral flow tests provide results in around 30 minutes without the need to send kits to an external lab. They will also help with the one in three people who have the virus but do not have symptoms, so who could be spreading the disease unknowingly. A negative test will keep pupils/staff in school, with a positive test requiring a separate lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and isolation. Results are reported to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed using the details supplied with the kits.
Households with a positive case of Covid-19
From 16 August, if you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years, you are no longer required to self-isolate if you live in the same household as someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. This means that a child can now attend school even if a sibling or parent has tested positive, as long as the child tests negative. See the Government guidance here for further information.
Positive cases of Covid-19 in School
Individuals are no longer required to self-isolate if they are a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for Covid-19 if they are fully vaccinated or they are under 18 years. Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and advised to take a PCR test. This means that large groups of children will no longer need to self-isolate if there is a positive case in the class. The position is still unclear about what we do for staff who are identified as being close contacts but who have not been fully vaccinated.
If there is a ‘substantial increase’ in the number of positive cases in school, then we will work with the Department for Education and Local Authority to manage the ‘outbreak’. The Government defines the threshold as:
- at least 5 pupils or staff who are likely to have mixed closely testing positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period, or
- 10% of children or staff who are likely to have mixed closely testing positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period.
Identifying a group that is likely to have mixed closely will be different in many circumstances. In our schools, this could include:
- a form group, subject class or sports team
- a friendship group mixing at break times
- a group in an after-school activity
At the point of reaching a threshold, we will first review and reinforce the testing, hygiene and ventilation measures already in place. If required, we will put in place the following Contingency Plan for a short, temporary period:
- assist NHS Test & Trace to identify close contacts who need to take a PCR test
- require face coverings to be worn in school by all staff, visitors and senior pupils
- reintroduce bubbles to reduce mixing between groups
- cancel or postpone educational visits, live performances, events, open days etc
- limit visitors to the premises.
The Government has asked schools to endeavour to keep any measures to the minimum number of pupils possible and for the shortest amount of time possible. Any measures affecting education will be under regular review and will be lifted as soon as the evidence supports doing so. Attendance restrictions will only ever be considered as a last resort, so we will only move back to remote home learning in more extreme circumstances if specifically directed by the Government.
While we are required to have a Contingency Plan ready to use, clearly we hope never to do so. Our Contingency Plan and Risk Assessment are available to download below.