County council support schools to prepare for pupils’ return

GCC Press Release – 3 September 2021

Gloucestershire schools supported by the county council have been planning for pupils’ safe return with rapid testing, ventilation and extra hygiene precautions at the top of the checklist

Regular rapid testing for people with no symptoms will remain key to helping prevent the spread of  COVID-19. Secondary schools have been offering pupils on-site lateral flow device (LFD) tests before they return to face-to-face teaching and may need to stagger pupils’ return to school as a result. Pupils and staff across all schools will be urged to continue to take regular rapid tests ongoing.

Students aged 16 and 17, as well as younger children aged 12-15 in certain eligible groups are also encouraged to take up the offer of the vaccine.

Whilst restrictions such as bubbles have been eased to allow a full return to school activities, handwashing and regular cleaning across school buildings will still feature as part of school life. It is also recommended that face coverings are worn on public or school transport.

In the event of a school outbreak extra action might be considered when cases reach a threshold, which could include face coverings in communal areas and classrooms for secondary school pupils; moving group activities outdoors or enhanced ventilation and deep cleaning will need to be considered. Schools will continue to work with the county council to agree what action should be taken.

Schools will no longer be responsible for tracing close contacts of pupils who test positive for COVID-19, instead this will be done by NHS test and trace. To ensure pupils get the maximum face to face teaching and minimal disruption to their education, children and young people aged under 18 years six months who have been identified as a close contact will continue to attend school – including if someone in their household has COVID-19 provided they are symptom free.

It remains a legal requirement that anyone who tests positive or has symptoms of COVID-19 stays at home and gets a PCR test. Contacts of a confirmed case that have had both doses of the vaccine, have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial or are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons don’t need to isolate but should still get a PCR test and limit socialising to keep loved ones and the wider community safe.

Cllr Phillip Robinson, cabinet member responsible for education at Gloucestershire County Council, said “This is an exciting, but for some, an anxious time as pupils return to school since restrictions have eased. What we do know is that the commitment by county’s schools remains the same and they, with our support, continue to work hard to make sure pupils and staff stay safe whilst ensuring young people get the education they deserve. I would like to thank all heads and school staff for their ongoing dedication.”

Professor Sarah Scott, Executive Director for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “Getting the  COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible remains the best way to protect yourself and others from the serious effects of the virus. We are particularly urging young people aged 16 and 17 years old to get their jab as soon as possible. Regular rapid testing is also crucial not only for school staff and pupils, but for everyone, as people can carry COVID-19 without even knowing it.”

Advice and information for parents and carers about returning to school can be found at: gov.uk/backtoschool or read this handy blog: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2021/08/24/back-to-school-what-you-need-to-know

For information and advice on the steps you can take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 visit: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/ COVID-19-information-and-advice/