On the return to schools in September, as yet there is no requirement in England to wear masks, maintain bubbles etc but the government have advised schools to devise their own outbreak management plans. Here we consider what they could look like and when they may be instigated.
When they may be instigated… what constitutes a Covid-19 outbreak?
- When five children, pupils, students, or staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period.
- When 10 per cent of children, pupils, students, or staff who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period.
- In special schools and residential settings, it is when two children, pupils, students and staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive for Covid-19 within a 10-day period.
In reality this means that the likelihood of instigating outbreak management plans will be quite high in settings such as secondary schools who have 1,000+ pupils and hundreds of staff. However, primary schools may find this more manageable. It is worth noting that the thresholds described do not include positive cases detected on the return to school lateral flow testing.
Outbreak management plans may include:
- improving ventilation
- extra testing
- enhanced cleaning of “touch points” e.g. such as door handles
- consideration holding activities such as assemblies or classes outdoors
- having good communication plans with parents and the general network
Emphasis has also been placed on schools to seek public health advice regarding outbreaks if a pupil, student, child, or staff member is admitted to hospital with Covid-19 as it could indicate either “increased severity of illness or a new variant of concern”.
The Department for Education has made available 300,000 carbon dioxide monitors in order to identify areas where more air-flow is needed, with priority being given to special schools.