Our thanks to our colleagues at NASS for sharing their latest update.
At the House of Commons on Wednesday, 19th January 2022, the Prime Minister announced the removal of Plan B restrictions. This will mean:
- The removal of the recommendation to wear face coverings in classrooms from 20th January 2022
- From 27th January face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, students, staff and visitors in communal areas.
- From 27th January, staff and pupils should follow wider advice on face coverings outside of school, including on transport to and from school or college. The government has said that once the existing regulations expire on the 26th January, they will no longer mandate the wearing of face masks anywhere, however it is still recommended that people use them in enclosed or crowded areas, especially when meeting strangers.
- Changes to the isolation expectations in a residential setting
- Removal of mandatory certification from 27 January
- From 27 January government is no longer advising people to work from home if they can
- Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of infection within settings. Staff, secondary school pupils and students should continue to test twice weekly at home, with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits, 3-4 days apart. Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged
Both the relevant guidance documents were updated on the afternoon of the 19th January to reflect these changes.
Special schools and other specialist settings: coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Suggestions were made that the government wishes to end self-isolation rules for people with coronavirus in the coming weeks. The legal requirement would lapse when the regulations expire on 24th March. This date could be brought forward, but nothing confirmed yet although a speculative date of January 26th has been widely reported by the press.
As we move out of plan B, we are aware that this is a concerning time for schools -especially as cases of the Omicron variant are high within schools, in particular primaries. You should still have contingency plans (sometimes called outbreak management plans) outlining what you would do if children, young people or staff test positive for COVID-19, or how you would operate if you were advised to take extra measures to help break chains of transmission. This has not changed. However, as we do start to emerge from the restrictions, we will raise any concerns with DfE to ensure that your views are heard and considered.
If you do wish to raise any issues or concerns, please feel free to contact Mari via firstname.lastname@example.org
With Kind regards
Claire, Mari, Karen and Jenny