16 July 2021

Department for Education update on Close Contact Tracing from 16th July 2021  

 

We were informed today of the Department for Education's guidance regarding close contact tracing as of the end of the school term. As of Monday 19th July 2021, NHS Test & Trace will take responsibility for close contact tracing. This role has been undertaken by the school since September 2020, but school responsibility now ends. NHS Test and Trace will contact the family of any student who tests positive via PCR from this point on and will work with any affected family to identify close contacts. 

 

Letter to Parents & Carers from the Department for Education Regarding Close Contacts

Dear Parents & Carers
Re: Changes to contact tracing in education and childcare settings

As you know, the Prime Minister announced on 12 July that Step 4 of the roadmap would go ahead on 19 July.

One of the key changes that will take place from 19 July is that education and childcare settings will no longer be asked to conduct routine contact tracing. As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with either the positive case – or in the case of children – the parents, carers or guardian of the positive case to identify close contacts.

Key Point: This will no longer be the responsibility of schools and childcare settings.

NHS Test and Trace already manages the contact tracing process for the rest of society – including children who have recorded a positive PCR test – and has expertise in supporting people to identify close contacts.
Key Point: From this point on NHS Test and Trace will contact families directly after they are informed of a positive case. 

This letter sets out in more detail below how that process will work and what you need to do if your child tests positive for COVID-19.

Self-isolating and taking a test

  1. If your child has symptoms, they and other members of the household should self-isolate – and you should inform their education or childcare setting. You should immediately order a PCR test for them. If the PCR result is negative, they and other members of their household can stop self-isolating (unless instructed to self-isolate for other reasons). If the PCR result is positive, they, other members of their household and any close contacts identified by NHS Track and Trace must self-isolate until 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
    Key Point: This is exactly the same as the current system. If your child is symptomatic they should stay at home and you should book a test. They should not come to school and you should inform the school of their absence.
  2. If your child has a positive result from a lateral flow device (LFD) test, they and other members of the household should self-isolate – and you should inform their education or childcare setting. You should immediately order a confirmatory PCR test. If the confirmatory test is taken within two days and the result is negative, they and other members of their household can stop self-isolating (unless instructed to self-isolate for other reasons). If the confirmatory PCR test is positive (or is taken more than two days after the LFD), other members of their household and any close contacts identified by NHS Track and Trace must self-isolate until 10 days after the LFD test.
    Key Point: The school will no longer need you to identify close contacts. Track and trace will inform parents and carers about next steps and appropriate actions. The school no longer needs to carry out this Public Health action. 
  3. PCR tests can be booked online through the NHS Test & Trace website or by calling 119.
  4. PCR test results will be recorded with NHS Test and Trace automatically, but you should also communicate the result to the education or childcare setting during term time or summer provision.
    Key Point: The school still needs to be informed/provided with evidence of the PCR test result and your child needs to isolate until a negative result is returned or until their period of self-isolation comes to an end.

    Contact tracing
  5. If your child gets a positive PCR test result, NHS Test and Trace will contact you, using the details you registered when ordering the PCR test. You and/or your child will be asked a series of specific questions designed to identify who your child has been in close contact with. Being in an education or childcare setting with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not necessarily mean a person is identified as a close contact.
    Key Point: As of 19th July, the definition of a close contact in school has now changed. NHS Test and Trace will discuss close contacts with you if you register a positive test result.
     
  6. You will be asked to provide the contact details, if you know them, of any of the individuals – or their parents or guardians – who have been identified as close contacts. NHS Test and Trace will then get in touch with these close contacts and provide appropriate instructions or advice (see below).
    Key Point: As of 19th July, the definition of a close contact in school has now changed. NHS Test and Trace will discuss close contacts with you if you register a positive test result.

    Self-isolation and/or testing of close contacts
     
  7. At present, anyone identified as a close contact is legally required to self-isolate and must not attend their education or childcare setting (the only exception is if they are participating in a daily contact testing trial). Anyone identified as a  non-household close contact by NHS Track and Trace must self-isolate until 10 days after the date of their most recent contact with that person. If they live in the same household, they must self-isolate until 10 days after the date of that person developing symptoms (see point 1 above) or, if that person was asymptomatic, the date of their test (see point 2 above). NHS Test and Trace will notify you of the day on which the self-isolation period ends.
  8. Close contacts are also advised to take a PCR test. If the test result is negative, they must still complete the full self-isolation period, as the test will not detect all positive cases. If the result is positive, they will need to self-isolate for a further 10 days – and NHS Test and Trace will contact them to identify any close contacts.
     
  9. From 16 August, if the close contact is under 18, they will not have to self-isolate (in line with the policy for fully vaccinated adults) but will be asked to take an PCR test immediately, other than for very young children identified as non-household contacts, and they will not need to self-isolate while awaiting the results of the test. If the PCR test is positive, they will be required to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test. NHS Test and Trace will then get in touch to identify close contacts (see points 5 and 6 above). Further guidance on these changes to self-isolation will be provided shortly.
    Key Point: As of 16th August, children who are close contacts will take a PCR test and will not have to self-isolate, unless the test is positive.

 

We recognise how difficult the past 18 months have been and the sacrifices that all families, education and childcare settings have had to make. This has been an enormously challenging time for everyone and we would like to take the opportunity to thank you for everything you have done.

On behalf of the Education Secretary. Key points are from the school and are intended to offer additional clarification for parents and carers