The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) released this information this week on the ‘next steps for living with COVID’. The Department for Education has also published this blog to clarify how ‘living with COVID’ will apply to schools. Should there be any significant and material differences in the updated guidance, I will write again to outline them for you. The key points and changes that will come into effect from tomorrow are:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests are no longer be freely available, including to schools, and routine testing will no longer be expected in schools. (The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have provided new information here on who can access free tests from now on.)
- Adults with a positive COVID-19 test result are now advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days. This of course applies to College staff.
- School students with a positive COVID-19 test result are now advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days. This means that all students currently isolating can return to school on Monday 4 April, if of course they do not have a high temperature and are well enough to attend.
- Adults with symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature or who feel unwell, are advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people, until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.
- Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can return to school when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
- It is deemed 'sensible' to wear a mask in enclosed spaces, keep indoor spaces ventilated and stay away from others if you have any symptoms of a respiratory illness, including COVID.
- Children and young people aged 5 and over are encouraged to get vaccinated, although the in-school COVID-19 vaccination programme will come to an end.