Changes to measures and guidance for managing COVID-19 in education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April
On Tuesday 29 March, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, set out the next steps for living with COVID-19 in England from Friday 1 April. Free COVID-19 tests will continue to be available for specific groups, including eligible patients and NHS staff, once the universal testing offer ends on Friday 1 April. Updated guidance will advise:
- Adults with the symptoms of a respiratory infection, and who have a high temperature or feel unwell, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.
- Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
- Adults with a positive COVID-19 test result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious. For children and young people aged 18 and under, the advice will be 3 days.
The population now has much stronger protection against COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic. This means we can begin to manage the virus like other respiratory infections, thanks to the success of the vaccination programme and access to antivirals, alongside natural immunity and increased scientific and public understanding about how to manage risk.
For education and childcare settings from Friday 1 April:
- Regular asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended in any education or childcare setting, including in SEND, alternative provision and children’s social care settings. Therefore, settings will no longer be able to order test kits
- Residential SEND settings may be advised by their local health protection team to re-introduce some time-limited asymptomatic testing. This would be an exceptional measure, for targeted groups of staff and pupils or students (secondary age or above) in the event of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. These settings are scheduled to receive an automatic delivery of contingency supply test kits during the week commencing Monday 28 March
- The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) will publish new guidance. Most of the specific COVID-19 guidance for education and childcare settings will be withdrawn from GOV.UK on Friday 1 April. The operational guidance on the testing in education settings document sharing platform will also be removed on the same day.
Reminder for education and childcare settings on distributing existing stocks of self-test kits
Now that regular asymptomatic testing in mainstream education and childcare settings is no longer advised, you may have surplus stock of self-test kits that are no longer required.
UKHSA will issue further communications in due course about how to manage any excess stock of test kits from Friday 1 April. Please do not hand out any test kits to staff, pupils, or students unless advised by your local health protection team, local authority or director of public health. Expired stock is classified as municipal waste and may be disposed of with other waste.