Step 4 of the government COVID-19 roadmap on 19 July 2021
The rules in England for the control of COVID-19 changed on Monday 19 July 2021. Many of these changes have been put in place to reduce the impact of the pandemic on children and young people and their education. However, this does not mean that pandemic is over, and caution remains essential as we move into this new stage of the pandemic.
Due to the high rates of COVID infection being seen across the South West in August; Cornwall and Devon have been moved to an Enhanced Response Area (ERA) by central government.
This will be in place for 5 weeks initially but will be reviewed after 4 weeks.
This move enables the area to put in place additional measures to try to reduce transmission locally.
The information below provides further guidance on what these changes mean.
Contact tracing and close contact isolation
From 19 July 2021 the government have said that education/early years settings will no longer be required to routinely undertake contact tracing and decide on self-isolation themselves.
Instead NHS Test and Trace (NTAT) will work with the positive case to identify close contacts. Contacts in the setting will only be traced by NTAT if the positive case specifically identifies another individual from the setting as being a close contact. This will likely result in a smaller number of individuals who are close contacts than current systems.
Those identified as a close contact by NTAT will be required to self-isolate be advised to take a PCR test.
The guidance goes on to say that from 19 July 2021:
- It is no longer required for children to be kept in consistent groups (‘bubbles’).
- Schools no longer need to operate a staggered approach to the school day. As indicated in the last newsletter we are as ‘back to normal’ in this area as we could be. We will need to be vigilant as some areas may get congested.
- Assemblies can return and special arrangements to avoid mixing at lunch/breaks are no longer required.
In September assembly will be conducted on line or outside, weather permitting. Class assemblies will be held on two days a week. A key stage celebration assembly will be held on Friday on line
We will return to a key stage fixed playtime.
Lunch will once again be consumed in the dining halls for all groups of children but will be staggered to ensure two year groups are in the lunch hall at any one time.
It remains that positive cases of COVID-19 will be required to self-isolate together with their close contacts, who will be identified by NHS Test and Trace. Therefore, if there are a significant number of positive cases in our setting it will still result in disruption for children and may affect the operations of our school.
If there are significant number of cases, we have been encouraged to keep practical and non-disruptive control measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, despite it no longer compulsory from 19 July 2021.
These are the ERA recommendations and other measures which will remain in place until further notice.
- Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of the virus for staff.
- As before, good hygiene including frequent and thorough hand cleaning and ensuring that all follow the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
- St Michael’s will maintain appropriate cleaning regimes.
- Spaces where lots of people gather, including classrooms, will be well ventilated.
- Staff will wear face coverings in corridors and shared spaces but not including the staffroom
- Social distancing will remain in place in communal areas including the staffroom.
- Social distancing will be required for all visitors and parents who come on to the school site.
- On the school run – Maintain social distancing from other parents, wear a mask if this is not possible and don’t hang around at the school gates.
- Use a common sense approach when entering the school site.
- Car sharing –wear a mask if needed and always try to travel with the same people.
- Vaccination – If you have been offered a vaccine; the current advice is to take it.
There are a number of scenarios for which schools have been given guidance on by PHE. These are part of a wider school operation plan and risk assessments which will be communicated to all stakeholders.
Please be assured that we will do everything we can to minimise the impact on education and attendance, so we might decide to introduce measures like:
Increased testing for staff and encourage regular Lateral flow testing for parents.
Enhanced cleaning in school
Adopt the bubble approach to class or year groups
Introduce staggered drop off and pick up times and;
Restrict attendance as a short-term measure and only as a last resort.
Because of all these changes, we have pulled together a handy guide for parents.
Here’s what you need to know on going back to school in Cornwall.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Why are we relaxing the current COVID-19 measures when there are so many concerns about the spread of Covid-19?
Similar to when we returned to face-to-face teaching at school earlier in the year, there will be some anxiety about relaxing certain measures. Control measures are in place which are equivalent to the general control measures in the country as we move to Step 4 of the government roadmap. This is to ensure that children are not subjected to disproportional measures compared to the rest of the population, especially given the importance of their education to their academic and social development. In addition, the clinical risk of COVID-19 to children and young people is considered to be low.
To help control the spread of COVID-19, each positive case will need to self-isolate, and they will be followed up by NHS Test and Trace to identify their close contacts. We will continue with practical infection control measures as this will reduce the number of infections and therefore the disruption on the children and on our operational delivery. These measures include reducing the number of contacts, good ventilation, good hand and respiratory hygiene, the use of face coverings where appropriate, one-way systems and encouraging regular asymptomatic LFD testing of staff.
Should face covering still be worn in certain situations?
It is recommended that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of the classroom where social distancing is not possible to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
However, from 19 July 2021 the wearing of face coverings will longer be a legal requirement.
In an outbreak situation the reintroduction of face coverings in communal areas (by, staff and visitors, unless exempt) may be recommended.
Have bubbles ended for good?
Our operational procedures and risk assessment will be updated and cover the possibility that in some cases it may be necessary to reintroduce bubbles and face coverings for a temporary period to reduce transmission and mixing between groups.
What if someone has symptoms or tests positive? Do they need to isolate?
Individuals are required/recommended to get a PCR test in the following circumstances:
- If they have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, new continuous cough and/or change in sense of taste or smell) - required
- If they have tested positive for COVID-19 on a lateral flow device (LFD) test (please get PCR test within 48 hours of LFD) - required.
- If they are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case – recommended
You should also self-isolate straight away if:
- you've tested positive for COVID-19 either according to a PCR test or a lateral flow device test – this means you have the virus. If you get a positive LFD test you should book a PCR test. A negative PCR test will override a positive LFD test and allow you back to school.
- someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive (unless you are not required to self-isolate – see below if this applies to you)
- you've been told to self-isolate following contact with someone who tested positive – find out what to do if you're told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app.
Pupils should only self-isolate if they have symptoms or if they get a positive PCR or Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test.
If they develop symptoms or get a positive LFD test they should book a PCR test. A positive PCR test cannot be overridden. If a pupil is asked to get a PCR test as a result of contact with a positive case they may continue to attend education until they get the result of their PCR back.
Breakfast Club will run from 8am - bookings to be made via ParentPay in the usual way.
Dragon's After School Club will run from 3pm to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday and 3pm to 5pm on Fridays. Please make your bookings on the forms provided for the relevant week. Booking forms can be found on the Dragon's Club page
If you have any specific questions or concerns about returning to school, please email: email@example.com
Our school kitchen will be operating as normal from Monday 8th March. Please ensure you book your child's meal choices on ParentPay before 9am on the day. Alternatively you can provide a packed lunch as normal. There is a new menu now available to book on ParentPay.
Free School Meals (FSM)
We would encourage all parents, including those receiving Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM), to check their eligibility for free school meal status if you feel you may be eligible, particularly if your current circumstances have changed.
We understand that the unprecedented situation which we are in will mean that some families find themselves in unexpected need. If you are not eligible for FSM or UIFSM but need some assistance please email the school on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our upmost to support you and your family.
For further information on school meals, FSM and UIFSM, please visit our School Meals page at: https://www.st-michaels-helston.org/school-meals/
If your child is showing symptoms of the Coronavirus (high temperature, over 37.8, or a new continuous cough), please inform the school office as soon as possible.
If anyone in your household has these symptoms everyone in your household should self-isolate for 14 days. Again, please communicate this to the school office as this communication with the school is incredibly important during this time.
Should a child present with any of the following symptoms during the school day, you will be contacted and asked to collect your child immediately:
- A high temperature- they feel hot to touch on their back or chest
- A new, continuous cough
- A change in their sense of taste and/or smell
Support for Families
The following organisations are available for support should you require it.
Early Help Hub – Single point of contact for family and parenting support.
Tel: 01872 322277
Foodbank – Provides emergency food to families in need,
Tel: 01326 564194
FamilyLine – Helpline, Befriending and Counselling support via telephone, e-mail or text.
Tel: 0808 8026666
Text: 07537 404282
Action for Children
Action for Children online digital support for parents is up and running for parents of 0-19 year olds. (previously was under 5s) Parents can speak either online or via phone about anything really from finances to behaviour to worry and anxiety.