Now schools are back after the summer holidays and lockdown, many are being hit by positive Covid-19 tests.
Headteachers are being forced to take decisions based on official advice from the government – as to whether to remain open or not.
This advice is clear that the school must take ‘swift action’ when they become aware that someone who has attended has tested positive for coronavirus.
First thing they are told to do is contact the local health protection team.
This team will also contact schools directly if they become aware that someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) attended the school – as identified by NHS Test and Trace.
Official government advice reveals: “The health protection team will carry out a rapid risk assessment to confirm who has been in close contact with the person during the period that they were infectious, and ensure they are asked to self-isolate.
“The health protection team will work with schools in this situation to guide them through the actions they need to take.
“Based on the advice from the health protection team, schools must send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with that person when they were infectious.”
Close contact means:
- Direct close contacts – face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, or unprotected physical contact (skin-to-skin)
- Proximity contacts – extended close contact (within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with an infected individual
- Travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person
The school will received advice on who must be sent home from the health protection team.
Schools are being recommended to keep proper records of which staff and pupils come into contact in their groups, and also take note when close contact takes place between children and school workers in different groups.
Closing a school will “not generally be necessary’’, the government says.