This is your email to keep you updated on the government’s response to COVID-19. If you have colleagues who would like to receive this email directly, please ask them to use this subscription form.
Today’s email includes:
- an update on progress of the 12 to 15 year old COVID-19 vaccination programme
- information for education and childcare settings on good ventilation
- a reminder on the temporary suspension of confirmatory PCR tests in education and childcare settings
- information for education and childcare settings on the reintroduction of Innova self-test kits for testing at-home
- information on Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) flexibilities for early years settings
- details on how to register your interest in webinars on the National Tutoring Programme (NTP)
- information for schools and colleges on ordering laptops and tablets through the get help with technology service
- information for all education settings on requesting additional laptops and tablets for children and young people under Operation Warm Welcome
Update on progress of the 12 to 15 year old COVID-19 vaccination programme
Phase 2 of the in-school vaccination programme for 12 to 15 year olds began on Monday 10 January. If your school age immunisation service (SAIS) provider has not already been in touch with you, they will make contact shortly to confirm when on-site vaccinations will take place. In support of this, we have updated the “how to” guide for schools with information and resources, including a template letter that can be used to communicate with parents.
Vaccines remain our best weapon against this virus. We have seen uptake increase nationally to 50.6%, however there is substantial variation between regions. Therefore, whilst waiting for confirmation of an on-site visit from a SAIS team, we encourage schools to continue signposting parents to book out-of-school vaccinations for their child, if aged 12 or over, through the NHS booking system.
The benefits of the vaccine are clear:
- It is estimated that a 60% vaccine uptake among healthy 12 to 15 year olds will reduce confirmed cases of COVID-19 in this group in the period up to 31 March 2022 by 33%. This equates to a reduction of 110,000 school days absent in this age group due to confirmed COVID-19 cases.
- Research shows that those who do become infected 3 weeks after receiving one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine are between 38% and 49% less likely to pass the virus on to their household contacts than those who are unvaccinated.
Please see the guidance on COVID-19 vaccination: resources for schools and parents for further information and resources on the vaccination programme.
Information for all education and childcare settings on good ventilation
Good ventilation is important in reducing transmission of COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that children or pupils need to be cold. When CO2 monitors indicate good ventilation, there is no need to keep windows fully open at all times. Opening windows regularly for 10 minutes, or keeping them open just by a small amount, can still reduce the airborne risk from COVID-19 substantially compared to spaces with no fresh air.
We have recently published a blog on the importance of ventilation that you may find useful. For more tips on keeping classrooms warm, see our latest blog on the Education Hub.
Reminder on the temporary suspension of confirmatory PCR tests in education and childcare settings
On Tuesday we updated you on the temporary pause of confirmatory PCR tests. As a reminder, you are only asked to take a follow up PCR test after a positive LFD test if you:
- wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment
- have been advised to take a PCR test because they are in a clinically vulnerable group
- have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme
- have received a positive day 2 LFD after arriving into the UK
If anyone has any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, they are strongly advised to take a PCR test, not an LFD test. If someone with symptoms has already taken an LFD test for any reason and the result is positive, they do not need to take a follow-up PCR test.
Reintroduction of Innova self-test kits for testing at-home to some education and childcare settings
From this week, Innova self-test kits will be reintroduced for asymptomatic testing at home to some education and childcare settings. These require both nasal and throat swabs and the test returns results in 30 minutes. You should retain some nasal-only swab self-test kits to supply to any students or pupils who are unable to throat swab. However, if Innova are the only self-test kits available and you have students who are unable to throat swab, a nose-only swab can be taken for these students and pupils.
All settings will continue to receive either Innova, Orient Gene or Acon-Flowflex self-test kits.
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) flexibilities for early years settings
The government considers COVID-19 to be an exceptional circumstance in which the staff-to-child ratios set out in the EYFS can temporarily be changed, if necessary, for example to respond to COVID-related workforce absences.
In some cases, early years settings may choose to respond to staff and child absences by temporarily mixing age groups of children who would otherwise be educated or cared for separately. Ratios should be guided by all relevant requirements and by the needs of individual children within the group. For the purposes of meeting EYFS ratio and qualification requirements, all staff educating or caring for a mixed age group of children can be considered ‘available to work directly with’ all of the children who have been grouped together.
In all circumstances, settings remain responsible for maintaining the quality of care, safety and security of the children in your setting.
Register your interest in the National Tutoring Programme (NTP) webinars
Join the NTP for an informative webinar hosted by their expert panel of educators. These webinars will give you an opportunity to learn more about the high-quality tuition support that could be available for your school through the NTP.
National Webinars – an introduction to the NTP:
- Thursday 20 January at 4pm
- Thursday 24 February at 4pm
- Thursday 17 March at 4pm
The NTP are also hosting a series of regional webinars. These webinars will focus on region specific information and will give you a chance to hear from schools in your region about their experience with the NTP:
- South-East – Tuesday 1 February at 4pm
- London – Wednesday 2 February at 4pm
- South-West – Thursday 3 February at 4pm
- East of England – Tuesday 8 February at 4pm
- West-Midlands – Thursday 10 February at 4pm
- North-West – Tuesday 22 February at 4pm
- East Midlands – Tuesday 1 March at 4pm
- North-East – Thursday 3 March at 4pm
To find out more about these events and to register your interest, visit the NTP events website.
A reminder for schools and colleges to order laptops and tablets as soon as possible through the get help with technology service
All schools and colleges with an allocation of laptops and tablets were invited to order in November 2021.
If you have not yet ordered, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible to ensure you receive devices in time to help respond to any potential disruption due to COVID-19, including supporting pupils and students who are isolating.
To view your settings’ allocation and place an order, sign in to the get help with technology service.
Request additional laptops and tablets for children and young people in school or college under Operation Warm Welcome
If you have children or young people arrived in your school or college under Operation Warm Welcome, you can still request laptops and tablets for them.
To request devices, sign into the get help with technology service and select ‘Order devices’. You will then be asked to complete the online form available under the ‘Operation Warm Welcome’ heading.
The form will request information including the number of devices required. You should only order devices for children you expect to be staying in your school or college for at least the remainder of the term.
You may be asked to verify the information provided in the form, so please ensure all information provided is accurate.
Further information is available in our Operation Warm Welcome guidance.
The information below has not changed since our last update
Department for Education COVID-19 helpline
The Department for Education COVID-19 helpline and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) advice service are available to answer any questions you have about COVID-19 relating to education and childcare settings and children’s social care.
Department for Education guidance
Our guidance to support education and childcare providers, local authorities and parents during the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed using the links below: