A letter has been sent to all schools in Bolton recommending new baseline measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading.
Dear Head Teacher,
Schools COVID-19 operational guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) explains the actions school leaders should take to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their school, and lists baseline control measures that should be in place in all settings:
- Ensure good hygiene for everyone.
- Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes.
- Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.
- Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In line with the national guidance (‘Contingency Framework’) Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) in education and childcare settings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk), the local authority and schools in Bolton are working together to plan for and respond to cases of COVID-19 amongst staff and students in a way that prioritises the quality of education and support to which students and staff are normally entitled.
At the current time COVID-19 cases in Bolton continue to be high and although case rates are not as high as other areas, we are seeing cases rise markedly in school-age children and this is impacting for students and staff in affected settings. Some schools have started to experience challenges with staffing capacity as a result.
Therefore, we feel introducing a few simple measures to the current baseline measures in settings could help to ensure that children and young people can continue to receive education in as normal a way as possible. In selecting measures, we have carefully considered those which we feel will have minimal impact on education and are effective at reducing risk of transmission.
We are strongly recommending education settings across Bolton consider including the following in their baseline measures, with effect from Monday 18th October 2021:
- Clear messaging and communications to encourage staff, visitors, students (year 7 and above), and their households to undertake twice-weekly lateral flow testing for people without symptoms
- Encourage the wearing of face coverings in communal areas for staff, visitors and students (year 7 and above)
- Household close contacts in KS2 and above who are exempt from isolation and are attending school are encouraged to carry out daily lateral flow testing for 10 days after the onset of symptoms (or positive test if asymptomatic) in the case in their household, and only attend school if their lateral flow test is negative. They are also encouraged to follow national guidance for all contacts and access a PCR test at COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). People who have tested positive with a PCR test within the last 90 days do not need to be tested.
- Consider opportunities to reduce indoor gathering and mixing between year groups, e.g. virtual assemblies
- Promote social distancing between staff within setting
We hope in time that vaccination of 12-15’s will contribute to limiting transmission in settings, but we are aware that no measure is perfect and that a combination of simple measures may be needed over the Winter period. In the first instance, we are recommending education settings consider these additional baseline measures until the end of December.
Bolton Primary Executive
Bolton Learning Alliance Executive
Bolton Council Public Health
Bolton Council Children’s Services