Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 18th January 2022.

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Photo of Mike Amesbury Mike Amesbury Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment his Department has made of the impact of covid-19 on schools in Weaver Vale constituency; and what steps his Department is taking to limit the spread of the virus.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

The government continues to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of COVID-19 through the steps described below.

The department has reintroduced face coverings for all adults in schools, including primary, and for pupils and students in year 7 and above in communal areas, and now also in classrooms. This is a temporary measure and will be reviewed on 26 January. Health advice continues to be that children in primary schools should not be asked to wear face coverings.

Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within schools and colleges. We asked secondary schools to provide one on-site test for all pupils upon return.

Staff and secondary school pupils should continue to test twice weekly at home. Schools are strongly encouraged to ask parents and other visitors to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test before entering the school.

Young people aged 5 to 18 and fully vaccinated adults who are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 can take an NHS rapid LFD test every day for 7 days and continue to attend their school or college as normal unless they have a positive test result.

Every child aged 12 and over is eligible to receive the vaccine. Healthy 12 to 15-year-olds can have a second dose 12 weeks after their first dose. The booster programme was accelerated to offer every adult in England a booster jab by the end of 2021.

Children aged 5 to 11 who are in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone (of any age) who is immunosuppressed, will be offered a primary course of vaccination.

To improve ventilation, we have provided CO2 monitors backed by £25 million in government funding. Over 99% of eligible maintained schools, further education colleges, and the majority of early years education providers have now received a carbon dioxide monitor with over 350,000 now delivered. The government is also now making available at least 8,000 funded air cleaning units for poorly ventilated teaching spaces where quick fixes to improve ventilation are not possible.

The contingency framework gives directors of public health a range of flexible options for advising temporary measures in certain situations. This framework is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-local-restrictions-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Schools should follow the control measures set out in the guidance, continuing to comply with health and safety law. Schools must regularly review and update their risk assessments.

The measures outlined above apply nationally. Regarding Weaver Vale, the regional team in the West Midlands has offered regular calls with Cheshire West and Chester local authority in which we provide advice and guidance on how to limit the spread of COVID-19 and support schools in managing it. These calls have more recently involved public health colleagues.

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