Who is considered a ‘close contact’ when the academy makes its decisions about who needs to self-isolate?
A ‘contact’ is a person who has been in close proximity with COVID-19 and is therefore at risk of infection. ‘Close contact’ is broken down into two parts – ‘direct contact’ which is any face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation or unprotected physical contact (skin to skin) and ‘proximity contact’ which is extended close contact, within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes with an infected individual. This includes anyone who has travelled in a small vehicle with an infected individual.
All pupils use the one-way system and so they are all close with one another. Why are they not considered close contact?
The academy one-way system is in place to avoid any face-to-face contact and minimise extended time in and around corridors and pathways throughout each day and therefore eliminates the possibility of any direct or proximity contact between individuals.
My child’s friend has been told to self-isolate but we have not been contacted. Why is this?
We gather information from lots of different places for the ‘infection period’ as defined by Public Health England. We speak with each family to ascertain travel arrangements, before school/break/lunch social arrangements and any after school involvement in activities. We go through seating plans in all lessons and identify pupils who have been sat in direct or proximity contact with the infected individual. We then contact the families of those pupils who, from this work, have been identified as having been in close contact. If you are not contacted and do not receive a letter with details of self-isolation dates then your child is not required to self-isolate and should continue to attend school if they are well.
What days do you look at when making decisions about who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for covid-19?
We are guided by Public Health England; they have informed us that an ‘infectious period’, the time when a person who has Covid-19 can infect others, is from 2 days before any of the three covid related symptoms are first present to 10 days after this onset of symptoms and for asymptomatic people who test positive, it is from 2 days before the test was taken until 10 days after.
I know that if I am contacted my child needs to self-isolate for 14 days. When does this 14 day window start?
The 14 days starts from the date of last contact with the infected individual.
I have heard of a pupil who tested positive for covid-19 but no one from the academy was asked to self-isolate. Why is this?
For each case we contact the Department for Education and follow the advice that we are given. The current advice is to follow the guidance on the ‘infection period’, the time when a person who has Covid-19 can infect others; this is from 2 days before any of the three covid related symptoms are first present to 10 days after this onset of symptoms and for asymptomatic people who test positive it is from 2 days before the test was taken until 10 days after. Therefore, we will have situations where an infected person has not been at school from the start of their infection period; others are not considered to be at risk and therefore we do not need to self-isolate anyone.
When is someone no longer considered infectious?
A person is no longer infectious if 10 days have passed from the onset of the three covid-related symptoms or the date their test was taken (whichever date is first) and they have been fever free for 48 hours. An ongoing cough or continued loss of taste or smell is not a sign of infection after this time and may continue for several weeks after infection.
Do I need to self-isolate if my child has been identified as a close contact of an infected individual at school and has been sent home to self-isolate?
No. Household members of students or staff that are self-isolating because they are contacts of a case do not need to self-isolate themselves.
What if the guidance from Public Health England changes during this pandemic?
We contact the Department for Education for each new case we receive. They then provide the most up-to-date guidance and advice.
The number of cases are rising now. Will the academy take any different action?
We recognise that this whole situation is a challenging one for everyone and that some families will be feeling anxious during this time. As cases start to rise, schools have particular actions to take depending on how many cases they have and in what year groups over a 14 day period. The specific actions a school may take will vary depending on how many cases they have and the circumstances of the school. There is a set of criteria for secondary schools to follow when deciding whether they also need to contact London Coronavirus Response Cell (LCRC) in addition to DfE:
- 5 or more students are affected in a single school year within 14 days i.e. 5 or more confirmed cases
- 10% (or more) of staff are affected within 14 days – for example, if there are 10 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a staff of 100
- 3 (or more) year hubs within a school contain at least one confirmed case
We have contacted LCRC and given them information related to our academy. This is so we can be offered the appropriate support, advice and guidance. We will communicate with families if we are required to take any different action.
There have been two cases in one year group in one week. Why does the academy not self-isolate the whole year group?
We know that children have already missed a lot of teaching time this year and understand that it is important to find the balance between identifying everyone who may be at a genuine risk of developing infection while not asking children, students and staff to self-isolate unnecessarily. It continues to be our aim that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time throughout the autumn term wherever possible. The guidance and advice from Public Health England is that we should only be self-isolating pupils who have been identified as close contact during an infected individual’s infection period. We will let families know if this guidance changes at any time.
The letters that are sent to all families do not indicate which year group the cases are from. Why is this?
A: The letters we send out are based on a template we are given by the Department for Education. We have sought guidance from them about this aspect of the communication and they advise that we do not give any further details as this letter is to inform parents of a case within the academy and is not specific to year groups.
My child is in Year 11 and has assessments coming up. How will they be able to complete these remotely?
A: Please do not worry. Wherever possible, assessments will continue remotely and pupils will be able to complete them from home. Some subjects have already successfully done this through the google classroom. Students will receive notification if they are scheduled to do this. Where this is not possible, subjects will amend their assessment cycles so that assessments are completed once the students return to ensure that students are not disadvantaged because of the need to self-isolate.
My child has not been asked to self-isolate but they think they have been in close contact with an infected individual. What should I do?
We understand this is an unsettling time. We are also acutely aware of the additional pressures and burden on our staff and so we are asking families to now only contact, via the email address below (and not by phone) if they have an urgent query specific to their child. Please only use firstname.lastname@example.org for any urgent queries related to covid-19. This email address will be monitored throughout each day and during the evenings and weekends during this time and is the most efficient way for us to receive and manage any specific queries.