Letter from the director of public health
Dear parents and carers,
We are pleased to welcome back pupils after the summer and to return to a bit more normality.
We all know coronavirus hasn’t gone away, and that we must learn to live alongside it as safely as possible.
We know that many of you will have questions about the latest COVID-19 advice, and testing and vaccination. As we head into the Autumn term, we hope the below provides some additional clarification and guidance.
Advice for close contacts
As of 16 August, you are no longer required to self-isolate if you are notified that you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 and any of the following apply:
- you are fully vaccinated
- you are below the age of 18 years 6 months
- you have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- you are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
NHS Test and Trace will instead advise you or your child to get a PCR test. There is no need to self-isolate whilst the PCR test is pending, unless you or your child develops symptoms.
Children aged 4 and under will not be advised to take a test unless the positive case was someone in their own household.
As well as getting a PCR test, close contacts may also consider:
- limiting close contact with people outside your household, especially in enclosed spaces
- wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and where you are unable to maintain social distancing
- limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable
This advice applies until 10 full days after your most recent contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
DELTA variant symptoms
Last term, Public Health wrote to schools about the Delta variant displaying a wider symptoms picture, presenting often like "colds" and not always the three more common COVID-19 symptoms. This is especially important as the Delta Variant in now the dominant strain the UK. We would like to ask for the continued approach to taking a low threshold to colds and winter illnesses. Accessing PCR tests is now easier: you can now answer "no" to the 3 key COVID-19 symptoms and still get a test.
The wider symptom picture is seen for both adults and children so please do continue to be cautious and get tested.
12-15 year olds vaccine
This autumn, all children aged 12 to 15 years are being offered one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.
The vaccine programme for 12 to 15 year olds will take place primarily through schools. Children who are unable to receive the vaccination at school will be followed up with an offer via their GP. A consent form and information leaflet will be used to seek parental consent in the first instance.
Very few healthy children and young people with COVID-19 go on to have severe disease, but offering vaccination to 12 to 15 year olds should help to reduce the risk of complications, time out of education, and the spread of COVID-19 within schools.
Children will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is the vaccine approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for children and young people over 12 years of age. This follows a thorough review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine in this age group.
We are working closely with the NHS and local authority on vaccinations for our 12-15 year old pupils, and we will be in touch with more information shortly.
Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Testing
Testing remains vital to catching cases quickly and limiting transmission of COVID-19.
If you are a member of a household of a primary school child, it is recommended to take a twice weekly lateral flow device test. Primary school children do not need to do regular LFT testing.
For secondary aged pupils twice a week testing is advised via a lateral flow device.
Please visit GOV.UK to watch a video demonstrating how to do a lateral flow test at home.
Thank you for your on-going support.
Director of Public Health