School Isolations and Frequently Asked Questions
I am acutely aware that the Covid guidance issued by the government is not always straight forward and may be argued/perceived as contradictory in places. For this reason, I am sharing below a basic guide for parents and some frequently asked questions (FAQ).
There are growing numbers of Covid 19 cases nationally and locally, and as a result there is a likelihood that schools will be required to further isolate pupil bubbles/individuals or classes in the future. This will not necessarily be a reflection on those schools, but the national and local number of cases. The cases are nationally rising by around 20,000 per day and positive test outcomes in the Derby and Burton area are escalating.
Why are isolation notices issued to children who are well, and how is isolation decided?
If there is a case of Covid 19 in the school community (pupil, staff, visitor, agency worker) the school is notified of this. If it is a positive case within a pupil’s household, we rely on parents making us aware of this. There is then a consultation with the Department for Education who are guided by Public Health England. In short, the long process boils down to whether it is possible to identify anyone who may have been in ‘close proximity’ to the person during the 48 hours before symptoms were observed, or up to 10 days after.
Close proximity is broadly defined as:
Anyone falling into this category is required to isolate for 14 days from the last known point of contact with the person testing positive, even if they are themselves well.
As you can imagine, in a primary school setting, this can impact on a large group of individuals. Public Health England and the Department for Education recognise and accept this. Managing and running a school is not the same as managing and running say a café or supermarket. The nature of schools relies on varying levels of close proximity to meet needs, especially for younger children. We do all we can to keep close proximity limited, hence ‘bubbles’ and one in one out systems in sterile zones such as the school reception.
How can it be that some people are in isolation (staff or pupils) but my child can come to school – they are in the same class and it just doesn’t add up?
This is a common question and one where an understanding of the system is beneficial.
Where this is the case it means one of the following:
If we can confidently identify a small group of children to isolate we will do so; however, the reality is that in most cases a class or bubble will be considered to have been at risk of close proximity if someone in that class tests positive.
Why do I not know who has tested positive?
Simply, this is private and confidential matter, and it is not relevant to how cases are managed. Any person who is impacted as a result of a positive test gets notified regardless of who the person testing positive is. It is understandable that some wish to know or attempt to speculate, but it is irrelevant – the process manages the isolations, and the process is clear and rigorous.
It is important to remember that staff too can be directed to isolate if they themselves become a close proximity contact outside of school. They are not immune to the system – they may be asked to isolate without contracting Covid 19 or having symptoms. Again, this is a private matter for them and managed operationally by the school following rigid guidance. We do not share this with the school community as again, it is private and confidential and does not impact on how cases are managed.
If I am told my child has to isolate, does this mean all the household need to isolate?
No, although we do understand that this in itself has complications for those who work or need to get children to other settings. Only if the child or any other member of the household later develops symptoms or receives a positive test should all the household isolate. Siblings should still attend school if you can get them in. You may need support in doing so.
If my child is told to isolate, should I book them a test?
No, you only need to do so if they develop symptoms. Many parents are doing so and it is not necessary according to guidance. When booking a test you will be asked if your child has symptoms, if the answer is no, you will be directed not to test. The reason for this lies in the fact that they are already isolated and booking a test when there are no symptoms reduces the efficiency of the system, without changing the need to isolate.
I am awaiting a test outcome as someone in the household has symptoms, can I bring my child to school?
No. This has been known to happen and I will not hide my frustration regarding this. As soon as anyone in a household shows symptoms all are isolated until the test result is known. This is arguably the greatest risk to schools and parents must follow this guidance.
If my child is in isolation, will it impact on their school attendance figures?
No. Covid 19 isolation / absence does not impact on any figures, unless parents are opting to remove their child without formal direction to do so. Where this is the case, absence is unauthorised.
The Remote Learning is available for children in isolation
The school is committed to supporting children who are in isolation with regular work and interaction with teachers. The method for this has been shared with parents and all have received a booklet with a username and password to allow access. In addition, staff have provided a task to allow parents to access the system, check contact has been made and to allow parents to test the system.
This guidance has already been uploaded onto the school website under Key Information > Covid 19. Note: in the event of a child, group or bubble going into isolation, it will take time for staff to upload the current work. This should be available in most cases the day following the isolation notice.
Your initial username and password was on the guidance booklet already sent home. Note: if you have not already done so, you will be required to reset your password when you first login.
Please note: if you click a ‘forgot password’ reset, this can take up to 48 hours to complete.
Other resources: If it is the case that you cannot access the Remote Learning platform for any reason, teachers have uploaded historic work onto the class pages. As pupils have moved on to new year groups, the work offered should not be a repeat of what was completed in the initial lockdown.