Coronavirus Update: 11th March 2020
The coronavirus is a source of concern for all of us as individuals, as parents, as children of older parents and as educators.
It seems that the information about the coronavirus outbreak today is only relevant for the day on which it is published as the situation is changing constantly and rapidly.
There are many rumours running around about various aspect of the outspread, but as an educational setting we only base our decisions on official government and local authority information and instructions.
Below are the current government instructions in force (last updated 28 Feb 2020) for us to follow on various coronavirus related circumstance. Please read these so that you are all aware of the steps we will take in each of these eventualities.
We will share with you any new guidelines when these become available.
What to do if children or staff become unwell and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 (either through travel to a specified country or area or contact with a confirmed case).
Call NHS 111, or 999 in an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk), and if appropriate, explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days. You can do this on their behalf if this is easier. People who become unwell should be advised not to go to their GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
Whilst you wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, try to find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a shut door, such as a staff office or meeting room. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the bin. If no bin is available, put the tissue in a bag or pocket for disposing in a bin later. If you don’t have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow. The room will need to be cleaned once they leave.
If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available.
Make sure that children and young people know to tell a member of staff if they feel unwell.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (Child or staff) is suspected in your childcare setting.
If anyone has been in contact with a suspected case in a childcare or educational setting, no restrictions or special control measures are required while laboratory test results for COVID-19 are awaited. There is no need to close the setting or send other learners or staff home. As a precautionary measure, the NHS is currently testing a very large number of people who have travelled back from affected countries, the vast majority of whom test negative. Therefore, until the outcome of test results is known there is no action that staff members need to take apart from cleaning specific areas (section 13) and disposing of waste (section 14).
Once the results arrive, those who test negative for COVID-19 will be advised individually about a return to education.
What to do if a case of COVID-19 (Child or staff) is confirmed in your childcare setting.
The childcare or educational setting will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. An assessment of each childcare or education setting will be undertaken by the Health Protection Team with relevant staff. Advice on the management of children and staff will be based on this assessment.
The Health Protection Team will also be in contact with the patient directly to advise on isolation and identifying other contacts, and will be in touch with any contacts of the patient to provide them with appropriate advice. Advice on the cleaning of communal areas such as classrooms, changing rooms and toilets will be given by the Health Protection Team and is outlined later in this document.
If there is a confirmed case, a risk assessment will be undertaken by the educational establishment with advice from the local Health Protection Team. In most cases, closure of the childcare setting will be unnecessary but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and children mixing.
What to do if a child or staff in your childcare setting are contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 who was symptomatic while attending your childcare.
The definition of a contact includes:
- any child or staff member in close face-to-face or touching contact including those undertaking small group work (within 2 metres of the case for more than 15 minutes)
- talking with or being coughed on for any length of time while the individual is symptomatic
- anyone who has cleaned up any bodily fluids of the individual
- close friendship groups
- any child or staff member living in the same household as a confirmed case, or equivalent setting.
Contacts are not considered cases and if they are well, they are very unlikely to have spread the infection to others, however:
- they will be asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact with the confirmed case and follow the home isolation advice sheet
- they will be actively followed up by the Health Protection Team
- if they develop any symptoms within their 14-day observation period they should call NHS 111 for assessment
- if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be tested for COVID-19
- if they require emergency medical attention, call 999 and tell the call handler or ambulance control that the person has a history of potential contact with COVID-19
- if they are unwell at any time within their 14-day observation period and they test positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated for the infection
Family and friends who have not had close contact (as listed above) with the original confirmed case do not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities such as attending childcare settings or work, unless they become unwell. If they become unwell, they should call NHS 111 and explain their symptoms and discuss any known contact with the case to consider if they need further assessment.
If a confirmed case occurs in the childcare setting the local Health Protection Team will provide you with advice and will work with the head teacher, principal and or management team of that setting. Outside those that are defined as close contacts, the rest of the school does not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities attending educational establishments or work as usual, unless they become unwell. If they become unwell, they will be assessed as a suspected case depending on their symptoms. This advice applies to teaching staff and children in the rest of the class who are not in a close friendship group or children undertaking small group work. The decision as to whether children and staff fall into this contact group or the closer contact group will be made between the Health Protection Team, the educational setting and the child’s parents. Advice should be given as follows:
- if they become unwell with cough, fever or shortness of breath they will be asked to self-isolate and should seek medical advice from NHS 111
- if they are unwell at any time within the 14 days of contact and they are tested and are positive for COVID-19 they will become a confirmed case and will be treated as such.
What to do if a child or staff in your childcare setting have travelled from any Category 1 (specified area) in the past 14 days.
If an individual fall into this category, contact NHS 111 for further advice:
- if they are currently well, they should self-isolate for 14 days and you should follow the advice as above for contacts of confirmed cases in the educational setting
- if they become unwell please call NHS 111 immediately for them to be assessed by an appropriate specialist. You should follow the advice as above for contacts of confirmed cases in the educational establishment.
- If they require emergency medical attention, call 999 and tell the call handler or ambulance control that the person has a history of recent travel to risk areas for COVID-19.
What to do if a child or staff member has travelled from a Category 2 (specified area) in the last 14 days.
If they are currently well:
- they are advised to self-isolate only if they develop symptoms
- they can continue to attend work or education
- they do not need to avoid contact with other people
- their family do not need to take any precautions or make any changes to their own activities
- testing people with no symptoms for COVID-19 is currently not recommended
- it is useful to always take a mobile phone with them when they go out so that they can contact others if they do become unwell
If they become unwell:
- they should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as they would with other flu viruses (see this home isolation advice sheet).
- they (or a family member, colleague or member of staff) should call NHS 111 immediately for them to be assessed by an appropriate specialist, as quickly as possible
- they should stay at home and should not attend work or education
- they should not go directly to their GP or other healthcare environment
- if they require emergency medical attention, call 999 and tell the call handler or ambulance control that the person has a history of recent travel to risk areas for COVID-19
- see further information and the Public Health England Blog
What to do if children or staff return from travel anywhere else in the world within the last 14 days.
Currently there are less cases outside the risk areas and therefore the likelihood of an individual coming into contact with a confirmed case is low.
There is no need to advise any of these pupils, student or staff to avoid normal activities or educational settings unless they have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
If individuals are aware that they have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they should contact NHS 111 for further advice.
For the latest country specific information please visit NaTHNac Travel Pro.
How to clean educational establishments where there were children, students or staff with suspected cases of COVID-19
Coronavirus symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness and include cough, fever, or shortness of breath. Once symptomatic, all surfaces that the suspected case has come into contact with must be cleaned using disposable cloths and household detergents, according to current recommended workplace legislation and practice.
- all surfaces and objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids do not need to be specially cleaned and disinfected. If a person becomes ill in a shared space, these should be cleaned as detailed above.
What to do with rubbish in the educational establishment, including tissues, if children or staff become unwell with suspected COVID-19
All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, and masks if used, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a safe place and marked for storage until the result is available. If the individual tests negative, this can be put in the normal waste.
Should the individual test positive, you will be instructed what to do with the waste.
This concludes all current instructions for nursery settings.
We will continue to update you on any new information that is made available to us.
All the kindest regards,
Assaf Ben Ezra