Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the COVID-19 transmission rate in schools; and what steps are they taking to protect teachers from COVID-19 infection.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The department collects data from schools on a daily basis, as well as gathering information from local areas and following up with individual settings in relation to COVID-19. This includes confirming that procedures for requiring pupils to isolate are well understood and that necessary decisions are being made based on public health advice. Data is collected on the number of schools that have indicated they have sent children home due to COVID-19 containment measures and the department has attendance data for schools that have done so.

The department regularly reviews advice from a number of different sources, including the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies outputs and Public Health England (PHE), as well as school attendance data to ensure its policies are guided by the most up to date scientific evidence.

We published ‘actions for schools during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidance to support schools to welcome back all children from the start of the autumn term. Schools should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in this guidance. The measures set out in the department’s guidance to minimise the risk of transmission in schools has been endorsed by PHE.

The full guidance can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

From 5 November 2020, following guidance on new national restrictions in school settings, staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home and not to go into work. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or from their GP, and may have been advised to shield in the past. Staff should talk to their employers about how they will be supported, including to work from home where possible, during the period of national restrictions.

The full guidance can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools.

All other staff should continue to attend work, including those living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

Staff and children who are clinically vulnerable or have underlying health conditions but are not clinically extremely vulnerable, may continue to attend school in line with current guidance.

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