Schools (COVID-19 information)

Updated 08.10.21

The Government has released full guidance for schools on the vaccination programme of children and young people.

Clinically extremely vulnerable children and staff

Clinically vulnerable children

Children and young people previously considered CEV should attend school and follow the same COVID-19 guidance as the rest of the population

However, if a child or young person has been advised to isolate or reduce their social contact by their specialist, due to the nature of their medical condition or treatment, rather than because of the pandemic, they should continue to follow the advice of their specialist.

Clinically vulnerable staff

Shielding programme has now come to an end and adults previously considered CEV should, as a minimum, continue to follow the same COVID-19 guidance as everyone else. People previously considered CEV may wish to consider taking extra precautions.

In some circumstances, staff may have received personal advice from their specialist or clinician on additional precautions and they should continue to follow that advice.

Vaccination of 12-17 Year Olds

All children aged 12 and over are now eligible for one dose of Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccination. Although 12 to 17 year olds with certain medical conditions that make them more at risk of serious illness, or who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, are eligible for two doses. These children will be contacted by their local NHS service to arrange these appointments.

All other 12 to 15 year olds will be offered the vaccine via a school-based programme.

Young people aged 16 to 17 will be invited to a local NHS service, or can access the vaccine via some walk in COVID-19 vaccination sites.

Vaccination Guidance for Parents/Foster Carers

Self-isolation

The changes to rules around self-isolation that came into force on 16 August will help to reduce the numbers of pupils/students and school/college staff asked to self-isolate following contact with someone who tests positive for Covid.

If a school, college or childcare setting has a positive case of Covid-19, the change to self-isolation rules means that close contacts will not have to self-isolate if:

  • they are fully vaccinated*
  • they are below the age of 18 years**
  • they are taking part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

* Fully vaccinated means that they have been vaccinated in the UK, and at least 14 days have passed since they received their second dose. ** Those turning 18 will be treated in the same way as children until the age of 18 years and 6 months, to allow them time to get vaccinated .

Close contacts will be strongly advised to take a PCR test, and will only need to isolate if they test positive

Testing

From the return to school in the autumn term 2021, pupils and students in secondary schools and colleges are encouraged to take two lateral flow Covid-19 tests 3-5 days apart at the school/college’s Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS).

After the initial two on-site tests, secondary pupils and college students will be given home test kits and asked to test twice weekly at home and report results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as to their school or college. The home test kits include full instructions for testing and reporting results. This will continue until the end of September 2021 when it will be reviewed.

Schools and colleges should retain their a small ATS so that pupils who are unable to test themselves at home can still participate.

If you are advised that your child is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for Covid - through their school/college or through NHS Test & Trace - you are advised to arrange for them take a PCR test as soon as possible, even if they have no symptoms.

You can use one of the borough's walk-in testing sites which are open 8am to 8pm:

  • Penny Street, Blackburn
  • Railway Road, Darwen

You can also book an appointment online to take a PCR test at the drive-through site at Old Bank Lane, outside Royal Blackburn Hospital.

Alternatively, you can order a kit to be delivered to your home through the national online booking system or by calling 119. Tell the call handler that your local council has advised you to arrange a PCR test for your child.

Please note: under current self-isolation rules, you do not have to self-isolate while waiting for a PCR test result.

Tests conducted at home

  • Children aged 11and attending a secondary school should be tested by an adult.
  • Children aged 12 to 17 should self-test and report, with adult supervision.
  • Young people aged 18 and over should self-test and report with assistance if needed.

Children below age 11 years are not required to take regular lateral flow tests at this time.

Results

If your child tests positive, they will need to:

  • self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance (if they test positive at school, you should arrange for them to be collected)
  • have a PCR test to confirm the result. You can arrange a test on GOV.UK, or get more info about testing sites in BwD.

We strongly encourage you and your child/young person to take part in testing, to help us break chains of transmission and manage the virus. Testing is however voluntary and consent can be withdrawn at any time.

Anyone with symptoms, whether they are involved in the school testing programme or not, should book a free NHS PCR test via GOV.UK and follow government self-isolation guidance until the results of their test are known.

If you have any questions about the asymptomatic testing programme in education settings, please speak to your school or college.

If a school, college or childcare setting experiences a number of positive cases, then some temporary measures may be introduced to slow the spread of the virus and mitigate disruption. We will work with individual settings to offer support on the best course of action on a case-by-case basis.

Face coverings

Due to restrictions easing across England, from the autumn term 2021 face masks are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas.

While the government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law, it recommends they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don’t normally meet. This includes on public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.

Contract tracing

Education and childcare settings are no longer required to conduct routine contact tracing when a child/pupil/student or member of staff tests positive for Covid.

As with positive cases in other settings, such as workplaces, NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case or, in the case of children, the parents, carers or guardian of the positive case to identify close contacts.

NHS Test and Trace has expertise in supporting people to identify close contacts. Positive PCR test results are automatically recorded in the national NHS Test & Trace system.

In addition, parents, carers and guardians, as well as staff, should also contact their education and childcare settings to report a positive Covid result.

More information on the Test & Trace process and self-isolation rules.

The contact tracing rules changed from 16 August. Anyone under 18 who is identified as a close contact of a positive Covid case no longer needs to self-isolate. (Those turning 18 will be treated in the same way as children until the age of 18 years and 6 months, to allow them time to get vaccinated)

Instead they should take a PCR test as soon as possible. Only if they test positive will they have to self-isolate for 10 days, and work with NHS Test & Trace to identify their close contacts.

A letter to parents, carers and guardians with more detail on reporting positive cases to education and childcare settings and self-isolation is available.

Foreign travel

If your child has arrived in the UK from travelling abroad, they may need to quarantine or self-isolate for ten days after their return to the UK. Please check the latest international travel advice before you travel.

Resources

Statement by the Chief Medical Officer regarding return to school

Returning to school in September 2020. A letter to parents.

School transport guidance and guidelines.

Children can carry this letter if they want to show they are exempt from wearing a face covering, either for a medical or personal reason.

Ventilation in education settings

Information for parents and carers

Leaders and staff in your child’s education setting will work to ensure it is well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained.

If your child is educated at home please refer to the ‘Keeping homes well ventilated section’ of the support for residents page.

Measures will be undertaken to improve fresh air flow in poorly ventilated areas and particular consideration given when holding events where visitors such as parents are on site, for example, school plays.

CO2 monitors are being provided to all state-funded education settings during the Autumn 2021 term, together with full details of how to use them, to help keep teaching environments well ventilated.

For further information please refer to the Government website or contact your child’s education setting directly.