A single confirmed case of the coronavirus in a school in England could mean the dismissal of a one-year-old group home, according to new government guidelines.
He says a confirmed case could mean all students in the same “bubble” have to self-isolate for 14 days.
In areas with a local lockdown, high school students could be rotated for two weeks in and out of school.
The guide, released Friday night, comes days before millions of students return to school.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson described it as “worst-case” contingency plans.
“We hope that we will not have to implement the directions set out today,” said Williamson.
“Changes in school attendance will only be an absolute last resort. “
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Paul Whiteman, head of the National Association of Principals, said: “Keeping schools open must be the priority, but you don’t need a crystal ball to see that there will almost inevitably be disruptions in some areas in the coming weeks. . ”
He said chefs have been asking for this ‘Plan B’ for weeks for what happens in the event of an outbreak – and “another late-night post is pretty typical of what we’re used to.”
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has not ruled out nationwide restrictions if England were to see a spike in coronavirus cases this winter.
Mr Hancock told The Times that a second wave was ‘a very serious threat’ and that in the ‘reasonable worst case’ Britain could be facing a spike in Covid-19 cases and a severe seasonal flu epidemic as people. spend more time indoors.
The new guidelines indicate what would happen if there were cases of coronavirus in a school – and what would happen to schools in areas with higher infection levels.
If there is a suspicious case of a student or staff member, the school will continue while a test is performed.
But the education ministry says: “If a case is confirmed, local public health officials will work with the school to take appropriate action, including asking all members of a student’s bubble to ‘isolate for 14 days and access distance education.
A “bubble” could be a small number of children – but it could also be an entire annual group – and that could mean that all of those students have to leave school to isolate themselves for 14 days and move on to teaching in distance.
The guidance indicates that a health protection team would decide which specific students are considered to have been in close enough contact to require isolation.
Levels of Concern
For schools to respond to changing levels of coronavirus cases, there will be a set of four-step responses – all of which will prioritize keeping elementary students in school full-time.
The default setting will be level 1 – which will be where there are no particular problems, with the assumption that this will be the vast majority of schools, where all students will attend full time.
If local public health and education officials decide there are too high infection levels, schools could have a Level 2 response, in which high school students move on to a part-time internship. , at school for two weeks, then study online at home for two weeks.
The guidelines say schools would only be affected in this way after “all other measures have been exhausted” – but they say it would help break the Covid-19 chain of transmission.
A more severe answer would be Level 3, in which most high school students would study at home, and then Level 4, in which all types of schools would switch to home-study, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL School Leaders Union, praised the contingency planning.
“But waiting until Friday night before most schools return is not the government’s best time. Obviously, schools have had no chance to incorporate this into their planning and will now have to revisit the plans they have put in place.
“In any event, this is a step in the right direction. Obviously, everyone is hoping that these back-up plans are not necessary and that schools can remain fully open. ”
Education staff and parents took to Twitter to express their irritation at the timing.
“The timing shows total disregard for schools, leaders and teachers. It is absolutely amazing that this is how we are treated over and over again, ”said Deputy Director Daniel Sabato.
Claire Sheehan said: “Our school has waited until the end of this week to send out advice in case things change. ”
It was as if the government was “full of the same people [who] wd send 530 fri redundancy emails, ”she said.
There were questions about the meaning of the advice.
“As a sixth grade college, our bubble would be half the students. Does this include all the staff who taught them as well? Because it could be all the staff, ”said Claire Foulkes, professor of geography.
As Geography Chief Mark Enser asked, “Staff at most colleges teach through year group bubbles – who would be in school to teach the rest? ”
“I am a table lady and the dining room is a common space in which face masks cannot be worn,” said Trudi Gard.
“The ladies at dinner come in contact with all the kids from all the bubbles. If a child infects us, we infect everyone. “
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