COVID-19 Update – 23rd Feb 2022

Dear parents, carers and families

PRIME MINISTER’S ANNOUNCEMENT – LIVING WITH COVID-19 PLAN

It was great to welcome students back yesterday and even better to hold our first of many year group and school assemblies back in the main hall again this module.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to write to you all to clarify what the Prime Minister’s announcement means for schools.  On Monday, the Prime Minister set out the next phase of the government’s COVID-19 response ‘Living with COVID-19’. COVID-19 continues to be a virus that we learn to live with and the imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education remains. Below details what this means for education.

Changes to Testing

From Monday 21 February, the Government is removing the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice-weekly asymptomatic testing. The Government has taken the decision to remove this advice, bringing education into line with wider society. They have taken this decision given what is now known about the low risks of severe illness from COVID-19 in most children and most fully vaccinated adults and the high rate of take-up of the government’s vaccination programme.

Staff and students of secondary age and above in SEND settings, alternative provision settings, and SEND units within mainstream settings or equivalent in further education colleges are advised to continue twice-weekly testing. We will write to those families concerned separately regarding this.

Staff and students are currently able to continue to access test kits from their local pharmacy or online.

Changes to Self-isolation and Daily Testing of Close Contacts

From Thursday 24 February, the Government will remove the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. Adults and children who test positive will continue to be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days, and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days. In addition, the Government will:

  • no longer ask fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 to test daily for 7 days, and will remove the legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate; and
  • end routine contact tracing – contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests, staff children and young people should attend school as usual.

From Friday 1 April, the Government will:

  • remove the current guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings and no longer recommend that certain venues use the NHS COVID Pass;
  • update guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with COVID-19 should take to minimise contact with other people – this will align the changes to testing;
  • no longer provide free to order universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England; and
  • consolidate guidance to the public in line with public health advice.

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) Advice on COVID-19 Vaccination for Healthy 5 to 11 Year Olds

On Wednesday 16 February, the government accepted the advice from the independent JCVI to make a non-urgent offer of COVID-19 vaccines to all children aged 5 to 11 in England. The updated JCVI advice for vaccinating 5 to 11 year olds, which was published on Friday 18 February by the NHS, confirms that community pharmacy-led local vaccination services and vaccination centres should be the primary delivery models for this cohort of young people; this would apply to any Year 7 student who has not yet turned 12 this academic year.

Update for Schools on Recording Attendance

School attendance is mandatory for all pupils of compulsory school age. It continues to be a priority to ensure that as many children as possible are regularly attending school.  The position on recording school attendance in the register has not changed; where a pupil is following advice to self-isolate prior to a confirmed case of COVID-19 they will be recorded as code X (not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus). Where a pupil has a confirmed case of COVID-19 they will be recorded as code I (illness).

We will, as always, continue to be guided by the Government guidance on Covid-19 and will, of course, keep everyone informed should there be any further changes or updates.  We are so pleased to be able to broaden our opportunities for bringing students and staff together for assemblies and other opportunities and experiences once again and we look forward to everything this module will bring. We owe a huge amount of gratitude to the NHS and its brilliant staff who throughout the pandemic have drawn deeply on their professionalism, skills and training to do their very best for us all. We are really proud of our students and staff and their continued resilience and perseverance throughout these last two years and we look forward and with hope to positive times ahead.

Best wishes

Ms A Croft
Associate Principal