Schools and colleges return to full opening from Monday 8 March

The Prime Minister has announced today (Monday 22 February) that the Government has set out its plan for the return of all pupils to schools and colleges, as part of the roadmap for leaving lockdown, which was published today.

All schools will return to face-to-face education on Monday 8 March.

All primary school pupils will return on Monday 8 March. Primary school staff will continue to take two rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests each week at home to identify positive cases more quickly and break the chains of transmission.

All secondary school and college students will take coronavirus (COVID-19) tests as they return to the classroom from Monday 8 March. Schools and colleges will have discretion on how to phase the return of their students over the week beginning 8 March to allow them to be tested on return.

After an initial programme of 3 tests in school or college, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home. Secondary school and college staff will also continue to be provided with two tests to use each week at home.

Staff and students in secondary schools and colleges are advised to wear face coverings in all areas, including classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained as a temporary extra measure.

Specialist settings, including alternative provision, which have remained open to the majority of children and young people throughout the lockdown, are encouraged to work with their secondary school students and their families to agree the most appropriate way for them to access twice-weekly testing.

Wraparound childcare for primary and secondary pupils will resume where this provision is necessary to support parents to work, attend education and access medical care, and to support pupil’s wider education and training.

University students on practical courses who need to access specialist facilities and equipment can return to in-person teaching and learning from Monday 8 March. Twice weekly testing will continue to be available for all on campus.

For the remaining HE students, the Government will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of the return of these students. This will take account of the latest data and will then be a key part of the wider roadmap steps. Students and institutions will be given a week’s notice ahead of any return.

All staff at private, voluntary and independent nurseries will have access to tests to use twice weekly at home, building on the testing already available to maintained nursery schools and school-based nurseries. Childminders can continue to access community testing.

We have updated the following guidance to reflect the changes announced by the Prime Minister on the wider reopening of schools and colleges from Monday 8 March:

·        early years and childcare providers

·        actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak

·        actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak

·        special schools, special post-16 providers and alternative provision

·        students returning to and starting higher education in the spring

·        contingency framework: education and childcare settings](excluding universities)

Rapid testing webinar

We are running a webinar on 24 February between 12pm and 2pm to provide secondary schools and colleges with an update on the rapid testing programme. If you are unable to join the webinar, it will be recorded and available to watch shortly after. Secondary schools and colleges can join the webinar using the following link:

Rapid testing webinar – 24 February, 12pm to 2pm

Testing guidance with more comprehensive information will be published tomorrow.

Bulk registration for asymptomatic testing sites in secondary schools and colleges

The Register test kits for your organisation service can now be used to register (‘bulk upload’) up to 100 test kits for your school or college. This allows NHS Test and Trace to inform the contacts provided with their result after the result of the test is recorded. The ‘bulk upload’ service is an alternative to the Register a coronavirus test (lateral flow test) service.

The digital guidebook has been updated on the schools and colleges document sharing platform. Users of the service may wish to read a copy of the ‘tips for using the bulk upload spreadsheet’ on slide 24 before using the service for the first time.

More adults asked to shield who are clinically extremely vulnerable

The Department of Health and Social Care has added a third category to the definition of clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). The definition has been expanded to include a new group of adults who have been identified through the COVID-19 population risk assessment as potentially being at high risk of serious illness if they catch the virus.

Individuals identified as CEV through this risk assessment are advised to follow guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people, which has now been extended until 31 March. Anyone newly identified as part of this group will be notified.

Where a member of staff who works within an education setting is advised to shield, they and their employer should discuss how they can best be supported, including working from home.

If individual settings are facing operational challenges in allowing children, pupils, or students to attend, they should work with the local authority (childcare and early years settings), RSC (schools) or ESFA territorial teams (FE providers) to discuss their individual circumstances and seek support.

Sector-specific guidance outlines a number of options for settings to consider if they are facing staff shortages or capacity issues.

The information below has not changed since our last update

Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) is available to answer any questions you have about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education settings and children’s social care.

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm

Please listen carefully to all of the available options before selecting the most appropriate option for your nursery, school, college or  university.

Look up your unique organisation number (UON)

If you have not received your unique organisation number (UON) for ordering new coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits you can can look it up using your unique reference number (URN) or your UK provider reference number (UKPRN) or by calling the Test and Trace helpdesk on 119.

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