|Education Restart – New School Day – Revised Flow Chart
From: Education Restart Programme
To: All Schools, Education Sector Partners
Date: 4 September 2020
We are learning more about COVID-19 every day. As a result the Department of Education’s advice and guidance to the education system may need to change from time to time as the pandemic develops. Our guidance will continue to reflect the prevailing public health position and up to date scientific advice from the Department of Health and Public Health Agency.
It is important that we keep you informed of any changes in a clear, consistent and timely manner. The purpose of this email is to clarify aspects of the flow charts to be used in conjunction with Section 8 of the Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance – New School Day, which were sent to you on Thursday 27 August 2020. Specifically, further clarification in respect of (i) feedback we have received on a number of issues that have arisen this week and (ii) the actions to be taken where an individual becomes symptomatic onsite or where there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the school community.
An updated flow chart, which has been updated to provide clarity on some of the issues you have raised, is also attached and is available here.
Symptoms and Testing
In recent days the Public Health Agency has seen a significant increase in individuals requesting a COVID-19 test where they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
Testing is only available for individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been advised by the Public Health Agency Contact Tracing Service to have a test.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are:
A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual); or
A high temperature/fever – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature); or
A loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.
If an individual does not have these specific symptoms, they do not require a test. Schoolsshould not ask pupils or staff to book a COVID-19 test unless they have one or more of the symptoms above.
At this time of year, it is common for colds and similar viral infections to circulate. In many cases, children will be well enough to attend school and continue their learning with little or no interruption to their education. In other cases, for instance where they have quite a heavy cold, they may need to take a day or two off to recover.
If a pupil or staff member does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, they do not need to be tested and do not need to self-isolate. The individual can attend school if fit to do so.
Additionally, where a pupil displays gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, they should not attend school until they have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days. In these instances they should follow the school’s usual attendance policy in respect of these symptoms.
Where an individual has COVID-19 symptoms and they refuse to book a test, they should not return to school for 14 days.
Contacting the Education Authority or Public Health Agency
The first point of contact for advice and guidance is the school’s designated COVID-19 Link Officer. As outlined previously an Education Authority dedicated telephone number and email address is available for schools who require emergency advice and support where a positive COVID-19 case is identified in a school: 028 90 418056 / firstname.lastname@example.org. This number and email are available during usual business hours and are also monitored out of hours.
The Public Health Agency number (0300 555 0119) provided for schools is not a helpline for general queries about public health issues or the New School Day guidance. This number is for the Duty Room and should only be used where there is a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in the school community. Furthermore, emergency numbers such as 999 should only be used where there is a genuine medical emergency.
For general Education Restart queries, the Education Authority’s Education Restart Helpline continues to be available during normal business hours on 028 38 368186.
The Education Restart Programme is also continuing to revise and update the New School Day guidance and is developing further information for parents. This will be issued to schools in the coming days.
Thank you for your continued co-operation and support.
Education Restart Programme