Covid-19 Self-Isolation Changes for Early Years
• The DfE have updated the contingency framework to reflect the position for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), the shielding programme and details on when increased COVID-19 testing can be recommended by Directors of Public Health.
• The DfE have also further clarified that education and childcare settings do not routinely need to provide staff details to the NHS Test and Trace Self-Isolation Hub. Further information on the NHS Test and Trace Self-Isolation Hub is available in the guidance on NHS Test and Trace in the workplace.
• The DfE have updated their Actions for early years and childcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic on 27th September 2021.
DfE have released a 11 page Q&A for early years providers which answers frequently asked questions about, for example, contact tracing, outbreak management plans and charging parents during periods of isolation. There is also a more recent Q&A from the DfE about self-isolation and changes from 16th August.
From 16th August, self-isolation will not be required for:
• Children under the age of 18 – a PCR test will be advised.
Young adults from age 18 years to age 18 years, 4 months will be treated as children until they have had both vaccinations – then they will be treated as adults.
• Fully vaccinated adults (from 2 weeks after the 2nd dose) – a PCR test will be advised.
Children who are aged under 5 and identified as close contacts will only be advised to take a PCR test if the positive case is in their own household.
Important update: The DfE Q&A states that, "the child can continue to attend the setting while waiting for the PCR test result."
Isolation will still be a legal duty from 16th August for:
• Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19.
• Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19.
The guidance talks about how to manage local outbreaks rather than individual cases and defines a local outbreak as "several cases within 14 days". You might need to update your outbreak management plan to show how you will deal with a local outbreak from 16th August and you will have access to the DfE Covid-19 helpline for advice - 0800 046 8687 / option 1.
However, note that the advice states:
"Given the detrimental impact that restrictions on education can have on children, any measures in settings should only ever be considered as a last resort, kept to the minimum number of settings or groups possible, and for the shortest amount of time possible."
You should still continue to ensure good hygiene (hand washing, nose blowing etc), maintain appropriate cleaning routines, keep spaces well ventilated, do lateral flow tests regularly and follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases.
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