As you may have heard over the weekend, the Department for Education has released some revised information for schools in light of the identification of a new variant of covid. Most of the existing guidance remains unchanged; the new measures that are being introduced are temporary and precautionary and will be reviewed by the the Department of Education in three weeks.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said:
‘The news of a new variant – the so-called Omicron variant – will have understandably caused concern for people across our country, including our teachers, wider education and childcare staff, parents, pupils and students. We are already taking targeted and proportionate action as a precaution while we find out more information about the new variant. As we do so, we will continue to prioritise children’s and young people’s education and wellbeing, making sure education and childcare settings are as safe as possible and children continue to benefit from classroom teaching. We are working with education and childcare settings to enhance safety measures where needed, including introducing isolation for 10 days for close contacts of suspected Omicron cases.’
Below I have outlined what the temporary measures mean for the academy over the next three weeks:
From tomorrow, Tuesday 30 November, we will be re-introducing the wearing of face coverings in communal areas inside buildings for all staff, visitors and students, unless they are exempt. In practice this means wearing face coverings when moving between lessons within buildings and in the Restaurant and any of our other buildings; this will not include in classrooms for lessons or outdoor movement around the academy.
Students should continue to wear face coverings on public transport too, unless they are exempt.
From Wednesday, 1 December 2021, the cash loaders in the Restaurant will be suspended; top ups can be made online only.
We continue to encourage everyone, staff and students alike, to carry out the twice-weekly home testing, using the lateral flow device (LFD) tests and to continue to share any positive results.
Contact Tracing and Isolation
The current guidance on contact tracing and isolation remains in place (this being carried out by NHS Track and Trace alone) that close contacts should take PCR tests and do not need to isolate unless they are over 18 and unvaccinated. The temporary change to this measure exception is for close contacts of suspected or confirmed Omicron cases, who will be asked to isolate for 10 days. Again, this will be communicated to individuals from NHS Track and Trace directly.
All eligible staff and students aged 12 and over are encouraged by the government to take up the offer of the vaccine, including boosters. Vaccines help protect young people and adults, and benefit those around them. Vaccination makes people less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on. We have facilitated two onsite vaccination centres this academic year and will continue to work closely with the NHS and DfE throughout the year. If your child is eligible, has not had a vaccination and you wish for them to now have one, then you can book one by visiting: Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination – NHS (www.nhs.uk).
All staff and students should continue to follow the basic rules of good hygiene. This will help to protect individuals and others from COVID-19. These are:
- washing your hands
- cleaning your surroundings
- covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
More information on the guidance for educational and childcare settings is available on gov.uk: Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). We continue to have sanitisers in every classroom and at communal reception desks and we continue to encourage everyone to use these regularly.
Thank you for your support with this latest temporary measure; we will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and will communicate with you all should there be any further changes in these next three weeks.
Ms A Croft