COVID-19 School and Early Years Update

Schools & Early Years Update

Updated guidance on self-isolation and testing January 2022

The Scottish Government has updated guidance for reducing the risks of COVID-19 in schools. This guidance sets out the actions that will remain or be strengthened in schools to keep everyone as safe as possible. The local authority has a comprehensive Health & Safety risk assessment guidelines and procedures, in line with the latest Government advice. All schools and centres have their own detailed establishment risk assessment which is reviewed and updated regularly.

The guidance includes updated rules on self-isolation and testing. We ask parents and carers to take time to read the updated rules and to contact your child’s school if you need any support.

Asymptomatic Testing Programme - Lateral Flow Testing

Staff and Secondary Pupils

All staff and secondary school pupils are encouraged to take a lateral flow test twice per week and to record results on the NHS portal, whether they are positive, negative or void. Secondary pupils are also advised to test before mixing socially with other households. Secondary schools supply lateral flow testing kits. You can also order testing kits online or pick up from your local pharmacy.

The UK Government has updated the online reporting portal so that household accounts can be created. This allows parents and carers to record results for more than one child without having to re-enter data multiple times. Reporting online now takes only a few minutes if participants use their phones.

All Children and Young People

There is also a universal testing offer to allow any child or young person to do lateral flow tests. This is useful for primary age children if they are identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19. Please note that primary schools do note issue testing kits to children. As noted above, parents can order these online or pick up from your local pharmacy.

Self-Isolation Policy, Including Contact Tracing and Testing

Revised rules came into effect from 6 January for positive cases and close contacts. These rules refer to people who are fully vaccinated. In order to be classed as being fully vaccinated, a person must have had 2 vaccinations and a booster vaccination, with the booster having been received at least 14 days.

Rules for positive cases (regardless of vaccination status)

All positive cases, regardless of vaccination status, must isolate for 10 days. However, if the person tests negative on day 6 and day 7 LFD tests (taken at least 24 hours apart, with the first test no earlier than day 6) they may leave isolation if they have no fever after their day 7 test.

Rules for fully vaccinated adult contacts and under 18 contacts

Fully vaccinated adult contacts and under 18 contacts take 7 daily LFD tests and report results instead of isolating – no requirement for a PCR test to be released from self-isolation.

Children aged under 5 are encouraged, but not required, to take LFD tests.

Rules for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated adults who are close contacts

This category included adults who have had 0-2 vaccination doses. People in this category must isolate for 10 days and take a PCR test.

Rules for school contacts

The previous risk-informed approach within schools will continue to apply. That is that, all potential contacts (whether defined as high- or low-risk) will be identified and provided with appropriate, proportionate advice on the action that should be taken in the following ways:

Test and Protect will, through the contact tracing system, identify those contacts where there is a higher risk of transmission and ask them to follow the appropriate steps based on NHS guidance (self-isolation and/or daily LFD testing dependent on age and vaccination status); and

Other low risk contacts will be identified by schools when they are informed of positive cases, and sent information letters that advise them to take certain mitigating actions. These actions do not require self-isolation, but include important advice on LFD testing and other mitigating actions.

This approach means that blanket isolation of whole classes will continue to be minimised. Fewer children and young people are likely to be asked to self-isolate, and when they do it will be for a shorter period of time.

Rules for people with symptoms or testing positive

Any adult or child who develops symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, new continuous cough or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste) must self-isolate immediately in line with NHS guidance and arrange a PCR test. They must do so even if they have a positive or negative LFD test.

Any adult or child who tests positive using PCR tests must isolate for 10 days, subject to the latest NHS guidance on LFD testing on days 6 and 7.

People living in the same household, for example any siblings, may adopt the appropriate approach to self-isolation and/or daily testing while the person with symptoms is awaiting the outcome of a PCR test result. Eligibility depends on vaccination status or age, and is summarised later in the rules above.

Rules for asymptomatic people who test positive using a Lateral Flow Device (LFD)

Any asymptomatic adult or child who tests positive using a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) must self-isolate immediately for 10 days, subject to the latest NHS guidance on LFD testing on days 6 and 7. There is no longer a requirement to book a PCR test to confirm the result, unless the individual develops symptoms, or the individual, parent/guardian or carer is planning on applying for the Self-Isolation Support Grant, in which case a confirmatory positive PCR is required. People living in the same household, for example any siblings, must also follow the latest NHS guidance on self-isolation and/or daily testing as close contacts.

Additional information for parents and carers

Symptom vigilance

Children and young people should not attend school if they have any of the following symptoms:

A high temperature or fever;

A new, continuous cough; and/or

Change or loss in sense of smell or taste.

A new, continuous cough means coughing for longer than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.

Supporting children and young people who display symptoms in school

All schools have well established protocols for supporting children and young people who display any of the symptoms noted above in school. If your child is symptomatic, they will be isolated and supported until they are collected from school. Please note that schools must follow strict protocols for this, and that your child must isolate and have a PCR test, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test result.

Groupings and gatherings

Schools have been asked to minimise contact by reintroducing indoor groupings as much as is practically possible. At the present time, schools are not permitted to have large gatherings.

School visitors

Parents/carers and other visitors are permitted to attend school in person for specific reasons, as outlined in the guidance, for example to plan for a child or young person with additional support needs. All visits must be pre-arranged and risk assessed, as per Government guidance. All visitors must comply with mitigations, including hand washing or sanitising, wearing a face covering (unless exempt) and having a negative lateral flow test before entering a school.

At the present time, all Parent Council and PTA meetings should take place remotely.

Dedicated school transport

Groupings are not required on dedicated school transport. Primary school children are not required to wear face coverings on school transport. 

Secondary pupils are required to wear face coverings, unless exempt.

Offsite and outdoor trips

East Dunbartonshire Council has comprehensive guidance and risk assessment processes in place to support schools with offsite and outdoor trips. In addition, schools are supported by the Outdoor Education and Awards Officer to plan trips. 

Physical distancing

Physical distancing between adults, and between adults and children and young people, remains. There is no requirement for physical distancing between children in primary schools.

Parents and carers are asked to physically distance at drop off and pick up times, and not to congregate at the gate or in school grounds. Schools will advise parents and carers of arrangements, which may include staggered entry and exit times and one way systems.

Handwashing or sanitising and hygiene

The key personal hygiene measures that all children, young people and staff follow to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection are:

Frequent washing or sanitising of hands for 20 seconds and drying thoroughly, and always when entering/leaving the building, before/after eating and after using the toilet;

Encouraging children, young people and staff to avoid touching their faces including mouth, eyes and nose; and

Using a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze, and use bins that are emptied regularly for tissue.

We ask parents and carers to reinforce the importance of good personal hygiene at home and in school.

From August 2020, there will be a new and enhanced cleaning regime within our schools and early years centres in response to Covid- 19. Read this leaflet to find out more about what we are doing to help keep everyone in our educational establishments safe.

Face coverings

Anyone adult, child or young person who wishes to wear a face covering may do so.

Face coverings are worn in the following circumstances (except where an adult or child/young person is exempt from wearing a covering):

At all times when adults in primary schools are moving around the school in corridors, office and admin areas, canteens (except when dining) and other indoor communal areas, (including staff rooms and toilets);

At all times for all staff and learners in secondary schools (including special schools and independent and grant aided schools); and

In line with the updated arrangements for public transport, where adults and children and young people aged 12 and over are travelling on dedicated school transport.

Parents and carers, unless exempt, must wear a face covering in school grounds and buildings.

Family Pandemic Support Payments

Family Pandemic Support Payments for 2021 will continue to be paid in alignment with the Scottish Government’s announcement in August 2021.

The Scottish Child Payment Bridging Payments bring together the COVID hardship payments and the family Pandemic Payment into one payment, made four times a year.

These payments are available for each child who gets free school meals because of low income.

We will continue to make the payment for all those children in Early Years who are entitled to free school meals through the eligibility criteria, but not those who receive the universal provision.

If you have younger children, you may also be eligible for the Scottish Child Payment. If you have not already done so, you can find out more including details of how to apply on the Scottish Child Payment page on mygov.scot website

If the child or young person has already applied and been in receipt of School Clothing Grant payment for the 2021-2022 academic year, there is no need to re-apply.

The payments will be made automatically by bank transfer to the account we currently have on file.

If your bank details have changed since you received the Spring payment, please contact the Council as soon as possible: either phone 0300 1234510 or email customerservices@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

If your child or young person is not currently in receipt of free school meals but may be eligible, you can still apply. Please ensure you apply for the 2021/22 academic year to be eligible for the remainder of the 2021 payments.

You might also get the payment if you’re experiencing financial hardship. For example, if:

  • You’re waiting for your first Universal Credit payment
  • Your immigration status means you cannot get help from the government

December Payment Dates 2021/22

The winter pandemic support payment is available to eligible school age children and young people awarded free school meals for the 2021/2022 academic year. Please ensure you submit your application for the new academic year to qualify.

Parents of all eligible children and young people who apply for and are awarded free school meals before 22 December 2021 will receive a winter family pandemic payment.

Parents of all eligible children and young people who apply before 30 November 2021 will receive their payment by 22 December 2021.

Parents of all eligible children and young people who apply after 30 November 2021 and before the deadline of 22 December 2021, will receive their payment by the end of January 2022.

Payment Dates 2022

In 2022, four equal payments of £130 will be made at Easter, Summer, October and Christmas. The payments will be made in line with the start of the school holidays.

Temporary Restrictions Fund for Childcare Providers

Between February and May 2021, the Scottish Government ran a Temporary Restrictions Fund for childcare providers. It aimed to support the following groups affected by COVID-19 restrictions:

·    Providers of daycare for children (operating at any registered capacity)
·    Childminders currently providing childcare to 12 or more children
·    Out of school care providers

There were three rounds, with the third and final round closing on 4 May 2021. Councils operated the fund for the Scottish Government with providers having to register and apply on the bisaccount.Scot website .