Coronavirus (COVID-19) - update, advice and guidance
Based on the World Health Organization's declaration that the Coronavirus outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.
26th February 2020
The risk of getting the illness in the UK is high.
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.
The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, it is unlikely that they have been infected.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
- difficulty in breathing
Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems. There is no evidence that children are more affected than other age groups – very few cases have been reported in children.
The GOV.UK website contains more information about the government response, which they will update as necessary.
As ever, please inform the school of any travel arrangements so that we can respond accordingly and protect the school community as soon as possible.
We will keep you informed about any developments and ensure we are keeping the school clean to help prevent the spread of any virus. Thank you for your co-operation as we all work together to support the children to feel happy and safe.
The actions the school is taking in line with advice from the Department for Education and Public Health England.
Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)
The guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings has been updated with additional information on the resources and support available to help parents educate their children at home.
Guidance for households with symptoms
This guidance is intended for:
- people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
- those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus
The main messages are:
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. See ending isolation section for more information
- if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
- for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period. See ending isolation section for more information
- it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
- if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
- if you have coronavirus symptoms:
- do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
- testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
- ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
- wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
- if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
The full stay at home guidance for households with these symptoms can be found here.
Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections
Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.
The current medical and scientific advice is for schools and other educational establishments to stay open. If this changes and the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser say closing schools, colleges, and early years settings is in the best interests of children and teachers the Department will take that step.
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.
Government announces move from Contain to Delay phase
Yesterday, the Government announced that we are moving from the Contain phase of the coronavirus action plan and into the Delay phase, in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Full details of each stage are in the government action plan.
To support the delay of the spread of the virus, the Department for Health and Social Care has asked anyone who shows certain symptoms to stay at home for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means people should stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection.
The symptoms are:
- A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
- A new, continuous cough
You do not need to call NHS 111 to stay at home. If your symptoms worsen during your stay at home period or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce will be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to schools will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against travel to any country/territory as a result of COVID-19.
Exam preparation and Ofqual advice
The Secretary of State for Education has confirmed that exams will not take place this summer.
The importance of hygiene
As a school:
- There are ongoing discussions with the children about how we keep the spread of any virus to a minimum through good hand hygiene.
- Although these discussions happen on a daily basis anyway, we are redoubling our efforts and reinforcing the key messages.
- We are ensuring that our supplies of soap and other sanitizers remain at an appropriate level.
- We are encouraging all pupils and staff to follow CATCH IT, KILL IT, BIN IT whenever they sneeze!
- The school toilets are cleaned twice daily as part of our cleaning contract and all shared surfaces at least daily.
- Our cleaning contractor has completed awareness training with members of our cleaning team in line with public health guidelines.
There are many additional resources available to support you and your child – here are links to some of them:
The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools.
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline
A new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)