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Please find the latest information from Public Health England on the Coronavirus. If you are uncertain with any of the advice given please call 111 and seek medical assurance. Below are useful websites and public information posters to help you. We would recommend that you continue to check the government website each day for advice.
You can also check the NHS website for important information including "Test and Trace", common symptoms and booking a Covid-19 test.
All pupils returned to education full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. This guidance from Public Health England is intended to support schools with new advice on the use of face coverings.
From 1 September new advice applied to the use of face coverings by staff and pupils in some schools, and to learners in further education. This guidance is for schools and other education institutions in England.
Returning to school was and is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of learning and children’s future ability to learn, and therefore we need to ensure all pupils can return to school sooner rather than later.
The Chief Medical Officers from all four nations in the United Kingdom have made it clear that the overall risks to children from coronavirus (COVID-19) in relation to education settings is low and that the risks associated with not being in school certainly outweigh those of being in school.
The World Health Organisation published a statement on 21 August about children and face coverings. They now advise that “children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.”
Nationwide, the government is not recommending face coverings are necessary in education settings generally because a system of controls, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in indoor communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances.
Examples of where education leaders might decide to recommend the wearing of face coverings - for pupils, staff and visitors - in communal areas of the education setting include:
It is vital that face coverings are worn correctly and that clear instructions are provided to staff, children and young people on how to put on, remove, store and dispose of face coverings in all of the circumstances above, to avoid inadvertently increasing the risks of transmission.
Safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on – and the safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between use. Where a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn and the face covering should be replaced carefully.
On the basis of current evidence, in light of the mitigating measures education settings are taking, and the negative impact on communication, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible. There is greater use of the system of controls for minimising risk, including through keeping in small and consistent groups or bubbles, and greater scope for physical distancing by staff within classrooms. Face coverings can have a negative impact on learning and teaching and so their use in the classroom should be avoided.
Consistent with WHO’s new advice, schools and colleges should take additional precautionary measures in areas where the transmission of the virus is defined as either high or very high under the local COVID alert level framework. Information on the local COVID alert level can be found in the full list of local COVID alert levels by area guidance.
When an area moves to the local COVID alert level ‘high’ or ‘very high’, in education settings where year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors) and pupils when moving around indoors, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. As in the general approach, it will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
When an area moves to the local COVID alert level ‘high’ or ‘very high’, schools and colleges will need to communicate quickly and clearly to staff, parents, pupils and learners that the new arrangements require the use of face coverings in certain circumstances.