Like an Olympic diver on the 10m board, COVID-19 cases seem to be taking a significant dive. Freedom Day (19th July) has come and gone. The possibility of 100,000 cases or more a day remain just that, a possibility. The news reports are of declining numbers day on day.
So, considering all this and August 16th (other parts of the UK will vary) being on the horizon should we, or should we not relax the COVID-19 measures in Early Years.
Let’s take the Action for Early Years document last updated on 19 July 2021
- You must put in place proportionate control measures.
- You must regularly review and update your risk assessments – treating them as ‘living documents’, as the circumstances in your setting and the public health advice changes.
- This includes having active arrangements in place to monitor whether the controls are effective and working as planned.
- It is no longer recommended to keep groups apart as much as possible.
- You should make sure your outbreak management plans cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce keeping groups apart for a temporary period.
- Close contacts will now be identified via NHS Test and Trace and education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing.
- From 16 August 2021, children under the age of 18 will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case.
- Instead, children will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test. We would encourage all individuals to take a PCR test if advised to do so.
From 16th August 2021, adults who are double vaccinated will not need to self isolate if they are identified as close contacts of a positive case unless they are symptomatic. If the adult lives in the same house as the positive case they will be encouraged to get a PCR test. 18-year olds will be treated in the same way as children until 4 months after their 18th birthday to allow them the opportunity to get fully vaccinated. At which point, they will be subject to the same rules as adults. So if they choose not to get vaccinated, they will need to self-isolate if identified as a close contact.
What hasn’t particularly changed
Settings will continue to have a role in working with health protection teams in the case of a local outbreak. If there is an outbreak in a setting or if central government offers the area an enhanced response package, a director of public health might advise a setting to temporarily reintroduce some control measures.
There seems to be much confusion between the DFE and Public Health when it comes to whether a setting manages the close contacts or waits for NHS to do so.
Since Freedom Day face coverings are no longer being recommended for staff and visitors in corridors or communal areas.
- Ensure good hygiene for everyone.
- Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes, using standard products such as detergents.
- Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.
- Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Roughly 70% of the adult population has been double jabbed. The schools are closed which means children are not mixing as much and parents don’t congregate at the school gates.
Summer is the time when the virus appears to be at its weakest. Therefore we need to be looking at case numbers some 3 to 4 weeks after Freedom Day before we can decide if it is time to relax.
We believe that managing the pandemic will be around for the rest of 2021. If you need any assistance with managing any aspect of employing staff during the pandemic, please call us on 01527 909436.