Learning to live with COVID-19: Update April 2022
The following information is based upon the Living Safely with Respiratory Infections, including Covid-19 Guidance, published 1st April, 2022
Promoting good hygiene, appropriate cleaning and ventilation
Many of the measures we have adopted over the last two years have become practices that we will continue with as these promote good hygiene.
The Education Alliance has developed guidance for staff and students/pupils that is focussed on maintaining good hygiene, ventilation and cleaning routines throughout our sites and communal areas:
- Ensuring that classrooms and communal areas are fitted with sanitising stations and lidded bins. Staff and students/pupils are encouraged to regularly wash and/or sanitise their hands.
- Ensuring that, where practicable, work areas and classrooms are well ventilated.
- Cleaning materials are available in all work areas for additional cleaning if required, for example after coughs or sneezes, for identified high touch items, and areas where additional hygiene routines are required, for example practical cookery lessons or where food is being consumed.
In addition to this vulnerable staff and students will continue to be supported through individual risk assessments. If staff/students wish to wear a face covering they may do so. Staff and students are encouraged and supported to receive Covid-19 vaccinations.
Most people can no longer access free testing for COVID-19. For guidance on testing see here.
The symptoms of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections are very similar and it is not possible to tell if you have COVID-19, flu or another respiratory infection based on symptoms alone.
Symptoms of COVID-19, flu and common respiratory infections include:
- continuous cough
- high temperature, fever or chills
- loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
- shortness of breath
- unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
- muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise
- not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
- headache that is unusual or longer lasting than usual
- sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
- diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick
If a pupil or member of staff has symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and they have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to come to school/work or carry out normal activities, they are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they no longer have a high temperature.
What should a member of school community do if they have symptoms of Covid-19?
If a member of the school community have symptoms of COVID-19, they are no longer required to do a rapid lateral flow or PCR test.
If they still want to get tested and are not eligible for a free NHS test, they must pay for a COVID-19 test themselves. They can buy a COVID-19 test from some pharmacies and retailers, in person or online.
For detailed guidance see here.
When should children, young people and staff with symptoms should stay at home and when they can return to education?
The symptoms of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections are very similar and it is not possible to tell if they have COVID-19, flu or another respiratory infection based on symptoms alone.
Individuals with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their education setting.
Individuals who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can return to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and are well enough to attend.
All individuals with respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.
What should a member of the school community who has a confirmed case of Covid-19 do?
If a member of staff has a positive COVID-19 test result, it is very likely they have COVID-19 even without symptoms. The infection can be passed onto others, even when asymptomatic.
If a member of staff has a positive COVID-19 test result they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after their positive result. At the end of this period, if the individual has a high temperature or feels unwell, they should continue to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they no longer have a high temperature and they feel well enough to resume normal activities.
COVID-19 positive individuals should avoid meeting people at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19 (see high risk list) for 10 days after the positive COVID-19 test result.
Pupils aged 18 years and under
It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for COVID-19 unless directed to by a health professional.
If a child or young person has a positive COVID-19 test result or displays symptoms including high temperature, fever or chills, they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test. At the end of this period, if the individual has a high temperature or feels unwell, they should continue to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they no longer have a high temperature and they feel well enough to resume normal activities.
After 3 days, if they feel well and do not have a high temperature, the risk of passing the infection on to others is much lower. This is because children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.
Contacts of those with a positive test results
Contacts are at lower risk of becoming infected and do not need to stay away from school or college.
Individual risk assessments for those at high risk
People who are at higher risk from COVID-19 and other respiratory infections include:
- older people
- those who are pregnant
- those who are unvaccinated
- people of any age whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness
- people of any age with certain long-term conditions
Individual risk assessments should be in pace for vulnerable, high-risk pupils and staff.
Schools have, however been asked to make contingency plans for changes to national and local guidance.