Managing Covid Outbreaks in Northumberland Schools and Setting As expected, cases of COVID-19 have increased in nursery and school age children since the beginning of the term. The potential outbreak thresholds described within the DfE Contingency Framework are relatively low and a number of schools have reached these already.
In response, please continue to contact the NCC Public Health Team for advice and reporting all positive test results, via the webform. We will respond as soon as possible where required. Given the current number of cases there may not be an immediate response, however every case will be actioned as swiftly as we can. Before and during this process it is recommended that schools with potential outbreaks review their outbreak control plan and the checklist below to review current arrangements and additional measures that could be implemented.
1) Standard measures that are routinely in place
• Follow and promote national guidance on testing, self-isolation and management of COVID-19 cases in school
• Give clear messages about signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and have measures in place to support prompt isolation of suspected cases
• Maintain appropriate cleaning, ventilation and use of PPE
• Encourage vaccination uptake in eligible students and staff
• Send inform and advise letter when the first case is reported in a class or year group
2) Additional measures to consider when outbreak thresholds are reached:
• Undertake a one-off enhanced clean, paying attention to touch points and shared equipment.
• Review and reinforce hand and respiratory hygiene measures (i.e. catch it, bin it, kill it)
• Should a further letter be sent to an identified group (eg class or year group)? This will depend on timing of previous communication, number and spread of current cases.
• Encourage twice weekly lateral flow testing by staff and secondary age pupils
• Can any activities be moved outdoors? (e.g. assemblies, exercise or classes), giving priority to activities involving larger groups or children who do not usually mix.
• Can ventilation be improved?
• Promote vaccination uptake in eligible staff and students.
3) Additional measures that may be recommended by Northumberland County Council Public Health Team
These are more likely to be advised if there is evidence of ongoing spread of COVID within the school
• Promote social distancing, reduce crowding and minimise pinch points in the day (e.g. assemblies, lunch time)
• Review classroom set-up (eg forward facing rows)
• Introduce measures to reduce mixing between groups e.g. separate break times, seating plans in classes and on school transport
• Reduce mixing of staff (e.g. hold meetings remotely)
• Temporarily reinstate face coverings for staff and secondary school students in communal areas and/or classrooms
• Limit residential visits, taster days, transition days, parental attendance, sporting events etc
• A single PCR test for pupils / staff in a defined cohort who may have had close contact (NCC public health team will advise)
The Public Health Team monitors the numbers of confirmed cases schools report by webforms. We will contact schools with high numbers of positive cases to offer support but will prioritise enquiry webforms from schools that have specifically requested advice or support.