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COVID-19 Schools' Bulletin - 21 October 2021

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Updated 21 October 2021

Important contact details


From Ming Zhang
Service Director of Education, Participation and Skills

Dear colleagues,

On Tuesday, I visited Yealmpstone Farm Primary School and took part in an exciting event there. The newly federated LA maintained nurseries in Plymouth were having their first workshop to develop the vision for an Early Years Centre of Excellence. The session was attended by partners including Livewell, Children's Centres, Early Years leaders, universities, PTSA and the LA. It was an event with passion and commitment and I cannot help sharing my excitement about this development, which is what we need in a rapidly changing education landscape. I would like to thank Heidi and her team for moving this forward steadily. We all know that any soft or hard federation in education settings is a hard work itself, let alone realising the ambition of turning it into a Centre of Excellence for Early Years. It is particularly encouraging that the progress is being made in the current challenging COVID situation.

COVID situation

At this week's DfE catch up yesterday, I once again raised the issues of the pressure that school leaders are under amid the rapid increase in COVID infection rate in SW, staff illness, supply teacher shortage and financial challenge. I asked the DfE to consider some form of extra financial support for schools and the DfE will consider my feedback.

I hope that half-term will serve as a circuit breaker of the current increase in COVID cases and that you will all manage to have some well-deserved break.

Regards.

Ming

Message from Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health, setting out measures also highlighted by DfE this week

SW Regional Consensus Schools Statement - refreshed 21/10/21

All South West local authority areas are in areas of rapidly rising infection and therefore triggering thresholds for additional action.  To ensure consistency, South West Directors of Public Health have jointly agreed the additional advice and action set out below in order that their schools can implement additional COVID response measures as proportionate or necessary. This sits alongside the SW risk assessment tool (outbreak management planning tool) to support consistency in both applying thresholds for action; working within the parameters set out within the educational Contingency Framework.

Aims:

  1. To protect population health and prevent widespread transmission of COVID 19
  2. To support schools and early years settings to stay open and to maximise children's access to education, learning and mental and emotional health
  3. To strengthen awareness of the identification of symptoms and key messages relating to testing
  4. To continue to promote and publicise the effectiveness of vaccination as the best protection for everyone
  5. To provide advice and consistency of approach across the region that helps schools take decisions when thresholds have been met on a case by case basis
  • Situation summary
  • The South West is experiencing the impact of national rising case rates and the impact of increased transmission arising from false negative PCR results
  • SW Case rates have increased sharply against the national average and are expected to continue to rise
  • The majority of cases are in school age groups.  There is evidence of this translating into adults of parent age
  • Over 60 rates are rising steadily.  Hospital Admissions for COVID have increased

 Risk assessment

  • The greater prevalence is being seen in school age children and their families
  • All local authority areas are in areas of rapidly rising infection and therefore triggering thresholds that warrant additional action 
  • Enhanced mitigation measures are required to prevent transmission, prevent school closures and to maintain appropriate levels of education

Mitigations

Given the evidence of spread of infection in pupils and the impact on staffing across South West educational settings since term began, we are advising all settings to review their contingency plans within the national contingency framework to implement where possible and appropriate those protective measures listed where threshold levels have been reached. This will help to minimise the spread of infection and maintain good quality face to face education.

Where local rates are high, and schools are experiencing  challenges from widespread transmission, or where there is a clear risk of widespread transmission South West Directors of Public Health recommend schools invoke a precautionary and sensible set of measures; maintaining these for 14 days post half term (whilst we review) to limit the impact of social mixing at half term.  

Particular measures for consideration on a case by case basis include:

  • Continued good infection prevention control (ventilation, touch point cleaning), including in areas where staff gather
  • Promote and publicise the effectiveness of vaccination as the best protection for all eligible cohorts including staff and students
  • Continued efforts on testing. Examples are included in the DfE participation toolkit, including:
    • Household siblings (secondary school age) of confirmed cases are advised to take daily LFD while awaiting their PCR test results and to continue to attend school (unless test is positive).  This is also advised for primary school aged children but is at the discretion of the parent/guardian
    • Given high prevalence it is appropriate to recommend daily LFD testing for all close contacts identified by NHS Test and Trace whilst individuals await their PCR results
    • Promotion of twice weekly asymptomatic testing
    • During an outbreak and following a risk assessment with the Local Authority Public Health team or the UK Health Security Agency Health Protection Team, to extend daily LFD testing for close or household contacts (identified by NHS Test and Trace) while awaiting PCR results to a minimum of 5 days, increasing to 7 days as necessary to ensure the final test is taken on a school day
    • If unwell stay at home until symptom free. If negative for COVID individuals should still exclude themselves from school until symptoms have resolved (follow disease specific guidance).  Colds and other non-COVID symptoms are circulating but in the first instance cardinal symptoms should be treated as possible COVID and trigger isolation and testing. This is the case even if others in the setting /group have tested negative for similar symptoms
  • The introduction of face coverings in communal areas such as corridors when movement occurs between lessons (for secondary school and college settings)
  • Reduced mixing between groups of students as much as possible including consideration of pausing 'whole school' assemblies for the time being and any other 'large gatherings'.

 Next steps for schools

After reviewing your risk assessments please do consult with your Director of Public Health if you need further support ( COVID19@plymouth.gov.uk )

Finally,

My team that have been supporting schools and early years settings continue to report what an incredible job staff at schools are doing under very challenging and unique circumstances. We thank you for all that you are doing to minimise transmission of COVID-19 in the school or early years setting and balancing this with the need for children to be in education.

I hope you have a safe half term and manage to get some rest

Ruth Harrell - Director of Public Health Plymouth

 

NB:

(1)  Updated Flowchart (V17) attached this week

(2)    The email with this Bulletin includes attachments also sent last week including the latest outbreak management planning too and supporting letter templates that can be used.

Vaccination - reporting of security incidents (secondary settings) see attached document - Education Plymouth S BAR Incident Reporting standard template (2.0)

Please find attached the updated S BAR reporting form. Please use this form to report all security incidents going forward.

Key changes from the previous form are:

  • Separate sections to help security leads identify the date and location of the incident vs the date and location of the report.
  • A request for the details of each individual incident (even when multiple occurrences of the same event are being raised in a single report) to help security leads better track incident numbers/density.

Please continue to report any and all security incidents, to ensure we can provide timely and useful advice, guidance, and support.

School Health Related Behaviour Survey 2021/22 (Secondary Age Years 8 and 10):  Please note information for Primary School settings will follow after half term.

Information regarding the survey should either be with you or about to be sent to you. This will explain how to undertake the survey at your setting. As a city we have maintained excellent engagement with this survey over the years with all secondary schools taking part and participation from pupils very high. This academic year's survey is probably the most significant we have ever undertaken given the impact of COVID. Being able to compare pre-COVID findings (last survey 2018) with where we are over this academic year should provide a rich source of insight into our young people's behaviours and needs and support planning and responses at a school and city wide level. We would like your survey to be completed by 30 June at the latest. This survey is funded by Plymouth Public Health (PCC). If you have any queries over regarding this please contact your local organisers who are Dave Schwartz and Carol Harman (Plymouth City Council - Public Health Team) 01752 398606 odph@plymouth.gov.uk

 

Education updates

Plymouth Maintained Schools Early Years (PMSEY) Forum

The next network meeting for Early Years leaders from all LA maintained primary, infant and nursery schools will be held virtually on Thursday 18 November 4-5.30pm

Please book on by emailing eduTrain@plymouth.gov.uk

Please come prepared to share the changes that your school or setting have made or are making in light of the EYFS reforms. The Early Years Improvement team would also like to hear from Early Years colleagues in the maintained sector about how your school supports children's transition into the Reception class.

If there is any other topic you would like to discuss then please get in touch via email to: susanne.james@plymouth.gov.uk

Funding for Youth-Led Projects that Improve Access to Natural Spaces

The Linnean Society is offering grants of up to £1,000 for schools in the UK to increase youth engagement with nature and improve access to local natural spaces. The aim is to support projects that will affect change and empower young people and their surrounding communities to actively engage with natural spaces, whilst engendering a deeper appreciation and understanding of nature. Priority will be given to projects that are innovative and developed alongside or led by young people.

Individuals and organisations who are linked to a school or community group that works directly with young people aged 16 or under in the UK are welcome to apply. This includes school staff, student groups, home education groups, community groups, and small charities.

Eligible project ideas might include: running a school nature festival; building or restoring a community garden; creating a nature walk; etc. Awardees will be selected by an online youth panel made up of 16-18-year-olds from across the UK. Successful proposals should aim to take place within 2022.

The deadline for applications is 1 November 2021. To find out more visit: https://www.linnean.org/the-society/medals-awards-prizes-grants/our-local-nature-grants

 

Health, Wellbeing and Safety in education

Behaviour Hubs Lead school application window open until 31 October

Funded by the DfE, the Behaviour Hubs programme will pair schools and multi-academy trusts with exemplary behaviour practices, known as Lead Schools/MATs, with partner schools/MATs who want and need to improve pupil behaviour.

The programme is looking for 'good' and 'outstanding' schools that demonstrate excellent behaviour culture with an emphasis on schools that work in challenging contexts. Your support in recommending schools within your local authority is particularly appreciated.

If you would like to recommend a school to become a Lead school in the Behaviour Hubs programme, please contact the team by emailing behaviourhubs@educationdevelopmenttrust.com.

The deadline for the current Lead school and MAT application period is midnight on 31 October 2021. You can find more information about the role and responsibilities of Lead schools and MATs in the Behaviour Hubs brochure.

Happy Half Term - wellbeing offer for all school staff

Local business Space To Move are aware of how hard everyone in schools has been working, not only to educate children, but also to keep them safe and happy, and would like to offer a 10% discount off all classes over the half term week as a token of gratitude and respect to all staff in Plymouth schools. 

Space to Move offer a range of yoga, dance and meditation classes which all support wellbeing and health. Please share the attached flier showing details of what is available over the half term with your staff.

To book simply  click on the class you would like to attend at www.spacetomove.co/timetable and then at the checkout page just type "TEACHHALF10" into the coupon box and click the arrow. Your 10% discount will be applied to the amount due, and then you can pay as normal. Discount code will be valid between 22.10.21 and 31.10.21 so you can enjoy our variety of classes to support your health and wellbeing over half term.

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