This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's COVID Schools Programme Officer, Heather Cook, for the attention of all schools.
An updated template of letters for schools has been provided in the appendices of the attached educational settings pack. Key messages for schools from Public Health England have been included below. Current policies will continue to be reviewed.
The Delta variant otherwise known as B1.167.2 or VOC 21Apr-02 or variant of concern first identified in India, is now the most common type of COVID-19 in England.
We know it is more transmissible than our previously most common Alpha variant otherwise known as B1.117, VOC 20Dec-01 or variant of concern first identified in Kent.
As a precaution, we are therefore recommending that close contacts of PCR positive confirmed cases, are offered a PCR test through NHS test and trace to improve case finding and reduce the risk of further transmission.
This is in line with measures in other settings and anyone who is a close contact of a confirmed case can access testing through NHS Test and Trace by clicking here. This testing is recommended but optional, and will not shorten the isolation period of the contact.
If a close contact tests negative, they still need to complete their ten-day isolation period. If they test positive this would extend their isolation period for ten days, from date of a positive case and their household would also then need to isolate.
With this in mind, we have updated our template letters to include this testing information for close contacts of PCR positive cases and have produced a flow chart to help with this.
Anyone who has had a LFD positive result, should get a PCR test as soon as possible.
Our public health advice to everyone remains the same; the best way to stop the spread of the virus is to remember ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’, continue with regular LFD testing for those aged 11 and above and follow the restrictions in place.
Schools and early years setting have played a key role in the pandemic, by enabling young people to continue with their education and development. All the COVID-19 secure measures put in place in educational settings have really helped reduce transmission and this additional testing is another tool to complement them.