The government this week announced its new local lockdown system. The rolling out of a new triple tier system across England means regions will impose different rules depending on whether they are deemed to have a “medium”, “high” or “very high risk”.
However, the government has confirmed that current rules for schools – which include a different tiered system of actions that can be taken – will remain in place in all three types of area.
Here’s what schools in areas under restrictions need to know…
1. Schools in ‘high’ or ‘high risk’ areas should introduce face masks
Guidance published today states that when an area moves into the local Covid alert level of ‘high’ or ‘very high’, in schools with year 7s and above, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils in some areas.
This includes when moving around indoors, such as corridors, and communal areas where “social distancing is difficult to maintain”. Such schools have been told they will need to “communicate quickly and clearly to staff, parents, pupils and learners that the new arrangements require the use of face coverings in certain circumstances”.
This means schools in ‘high’ or ‘high risk’ areas will be in tier 1 of the school restrictions (see more on them here).
However, the guidance for schools states it “will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning”.
2. And those schools need to have their own stash of masks
The guidance today states it’s “reasonable to assume that staff and young people will now have access to face coverings due to their increasing use in wider society”.
However, for those that don’t (whether they’ve forgotten it or are struggling to access one), schools should “take steps to have a small contingency supply available to meet such needs”
“No-one should be excluded from education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering,” the guidance adds.
3. Some schools will get more tests (but just 10)
Schools in “particularly” high-risk areas may be eligible for more tests, the government said this week. However it seems schools don’t have much say in it.
Guidance on the matter states they will be allocated to schools by the Department for Health and Social Care based on the “local prevalence of coronavirus”.
When asked for further information, DHSC said those schools would get an additional box of 10 home tests kits to “support teachers and students where there may be barriers to testing by the normal routes”.
They said schools will be prioritised based on “the published outbreak framework” and will be contacted by DHSC directly.