Operational guidance for schools
Living with Covid Strategy
The next stage of the Government’s Living with COVID strategy takes effect on 1 April. As confirmed by the Department of Health, free COVID testing will end, with free tests only available for specific at-risk groups. Free testing will no longer be available in schools. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has published guidance on managing respiratory infections (including COVID) for the general population which schools will be asked to follow (the DfE’s school-specific guidance is being withdrawn). This advises on self-isolation periods for those who test positive for COVID, and offers general advice for those who feel unwell with respiratory conditions but have not tested positive. For children and young people (who have not tested positive for COVID) the advice is generally that they should stay at home if they are ‘unwell and have a high temperature’, but can return to school once they feel well enough.
In addition the UKHSA has updated its guidance on Health protection in education and childcare settings, which provides advice on managing the range of health conditions. Chapter 3 which covers specific conditions now has information on respiratory conditions including Covid 19.
The government’s approach is that ‘Vaccines will remain the first line of defence against Covid-19’. The current vaccine offer to children is:
-5-11 year olds: On Wednesday 16 February, the government accepted the advice from the independent JCVI to make a non-urgent offer of COVID-19 vaccines to all children aged 5 to 11 in England. The NHS is currently offering vaccines to at-risk children and those who live with immunosuppressed people in this age group.
-12-15 year olds: All children in this age group are now being offered two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. DfE guidance for schools can be found here; in addition, JCVI has further advised that booster vaccinations should be offered to 12 to 15 year olds who are in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone (of any age) who is immunosuppressed
-16-17 year olds: All to be offered booster vaccinations.