Schools COVID-19 operational guidance – February 2022 has been published today.
- Update to Tracing close contacts and isolation section to reflect new public health guidance from 24 February.
- Update to When an individual develops COVID-19 symptoms or has a positive test section to reflect new public health guidance from 24 February
- Tracing close contacts and isolation
Public health advice for People with COVID-19 and their contacts changed from 24 February. Contacts are no longer required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests, and contact tracing has ended.
What to do if you have COVID-19
The most effective way to avoid passing on COVID-19 infection is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release small particles (droplets and aerosols) that contain the virus that causes COVID-19. These particles can come into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth or can be breathed in by another person.
The particles can also land on surfaces and be passed from person to person via touch.
The risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 can be higher in certain places and when doing certain activities such as singing or vigorous exercise. In general, the risk of catching or passing on COVID-19 is highest when you are physically close to someone who is infected.
However, it is possible to be infected even by someone you do not have close contact with, especially if you are in a crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated space. This is because the infectious particles can stay suspended in the air for some time.
People at higher risk of becoming severely unwell if they are infected with COVID-19
COVID-19 can make anyone seriously unwell but for some people the risk is higher. For most of these people, this risk is significantly reduced by vaccination. The risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19 is very low for children and young people.
People who are known to be at higher risk from COVID-19 include:
- older people
- those who are pregnant
- those who are unvaccinated
- people of any age who have a severely weakened immune system
- people of any age with certain long-term conditions
You will not always know whether someone you come into contact with outside your home is at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell. They could be strangers (for example people you sit next to on public transport) or people you may have regular contact with (for example friends and work colleagues). This means it is important to follow the advice in this guidance to keep others safe.
If you have COVID-19, stay at home and avoid contact with other people
If you have COVID-19 you can infect other people from 2 days before your symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. You can pass on the infection to others, even if you have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. If you have COVID-19 you should stay at home and avoid contact with other people.
- not attend work. If you are unable to work from home, you should talk to your employer about options available to you. You may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay
- ask friends, family, neighbours or volunteers to get food and other essentials for you
- not invite social visitors into your home, including friends and family
- postpone all non-essential services and repairs that require a home visit
- cancel routine medical and dental appointments. If you are concerned about your health or you have been asked to attend an appointment in person during this time, discuss this with your medical contact and let them know about your symptoms or your test result
- if you can, let people who you have been in close contact with know about your positive test result so that they can follow this guidance
Many people will no longer be infectious to others after 5 days. You may choose to take an LFD test from 5 days after your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you did not have symptoms) followed by another LFD test the next day. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, the risk that you are still infectious is much lower and you can safely return to your normal routine.
What to do if you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19
People who live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 are at the highest risk of becoming infected because they are most likely to have prolonged close contact. People who stayed overnight in the household of someone with COVID-19 while they were infectious are also at high risk.
If you live with, or have stayed overnight in the household of, someone who has COVID-19, you are advised to:
- minimise contact with the person who has COVID-19
- work from home if you are able to do so
- avoid contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk of becoming severely unwell if they are infected with COVID-19, especially those with a severely weakened immune system
- limit close contact with other people outside your household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
- wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and where you are in close contact with other people
- pay close attention to the main symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop any of these symptoms, order a PCR test. You are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people while you are waiting for your test result
Follow this advice for 10 days after the day the person you live or stayed with symptoms started (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms).
Children and young people who usually attend an education or childcare setting and who live with someone who has COVID-19 should continue to attend the setting as normal.
If you are a contact of someone with COVID-19 but do not live with them or did not stay in their household overnight, you are at lower risk of becoming infected. Carefully follow the guidance on Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.
- Face Coverings
Face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in classrooms or communal areas. Staff and pupils should follow wider advice on face coverings outside of school, including on transport to and from school.
- Risk Assessment
You must comply with health and safety law and put in place proportionate control
You must regularly review and update your risk assessments – treating them as ‘living
documents’- as the circumstances in your school and the public health advice changes.
This includes having active arrangements in place to monitor whether the controls are
effective and working as planned.
- School Workforce
School leaders are best placed to determine the workforce required to meet the needs of their pupils.
Following expert clinical advice and the successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine programme, people previously considered to be particularly vulnerable, clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), and high or higher-risk are not being advised to shield again. If staff were previously identified as being in one of these groups, they are advised to continue to follow Guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. Staff with a weakened immune system should follow Guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk from COVID-19.
In some circumstances, staff may have received personal advice from their specialist or clinician on additional precautions to take and they should continue to follow that advice. Whilst individual risk assessments are not required, employers are expected to discuss any concerns that people previously considered CEV may have.
Employers will need to follow this specific guidance for pregnant employees. COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding contains further advice on vaccination. Your workplace risk assessment should already consider any risks to female employees of childbearing age and, in particular, risks to new and expectant mothers. You should also consider the needs of pregnant pupils.
General Coronavirus Guidance for Schools Collection
Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19)