Welcome once again to Heads Up.
This week, I am using my introduction to really focus on the importance of COVID-19 testing as this evolves and what it means for schools. I’ll also cover the information you need around the coding of attendance (including quarantine) which is a critical requirement for the Department for Education.
Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the legislation, I want to thank you for your continued support in COVID-19 testing. Since re-opening on the 8th March, Warwickshire’s state-funded schools have seen a strong attendance rate with average attendance reaching nearly 92%*. Warwickshire’s primary school pupil attendance has similarly achieved an average attendance rate of 94%.
These figures include the necessary absences through isolation where there has been a positive case identified. For the figures to be so strong is an outstanding testament to your vigilance, following the guidance rigidly and the effort that has been put into co-ordinating a stringent testing programme, where applicable, in your schools and settings.
Schools and colleges will continue to play an important role in contact tracing for pupils, students and staff. As lockdown eases, I recognise the challenges of this role, particularly during the school holidays. With the half-term break now upon us, please continue to encourage your staff and secondary school or college students to test twice-weekly over half-term and test before returning to school or college after the holiday.
Whatever the result of the rapid test - be it positive, negative or even void - it should be reported straight away, every time. Recording all test results helps scientists stay ahead of the virus by spotting new outbreaks quickly and advising how to respond. Reporting results is easy - go to report a COVID-19 lateral flow test result or call 119 free from a mobile or landline.
Where pupils, students or staff test positive for COVID-19 during half-term, having developed symptoms more than two days since being in school or college, no action is needed. Staff, young people, parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
However, where pupils, students or staff test positive having developed symptoms within two days of being in school or college, you are asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school or college.
The Department for Education COVID-19 helpline and the PHE Advice Service will remain open over May half-term to answer any questions you have about COVID-19 relating to education settings.
With regard to coding, please follow the following guidance when recording pupils’ absences.
Coding Guidance for Pupils Travelling Abroad
During the half term break, some families may take the opportunity to take a holiday abroad. This means that on their return, they may be required to quarantine.
Pupils who are required by legislation to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine
If a pupil is required to be in quarantine on return to the UK, code X should be used for the duration of the quarantine. Schools are required to provide education for these pupils during this period.
Coding for holidays during term time.
The DfE advise that parents should plan their holidays within school breaks and avoid seeking permission to take their children out of school during term time. Families should also consider that their child may need to self-isolate following trips overseas that require a period of quarantine.
Headteachers retain the ability to authorise leave in accordance with the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 (amended 2013), if they consider there are exceptional circumstances relating to the application.
Pupils should be coded as either H (authorised holiday) or G (unauthorised holiday) for the duration of the holiday.
If a pupil is required to be in quarantine on return to the UK follow a term time holiday, code X should be used as outlined above.
If you have any further questions, please contact Warwickshire Attendance Service at firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information can be found at the links:
I do hope that the above is a useful one stop shop for the essential information you will need over the coming couple of weeks. The holiday does represent a new set of challenges for you to deal with. You can be sure, as always, of our full support.
Despite the break throwing up challenges, it is also a chance that I hope you will take to get some downtime. Please do take time for yourselves, your families and friends.