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COVID guidance changes for schools and nurseries

Changes in COVID-19 testing has now come into effect as Scotland moves to a different level of the pandemic.

Parents, carers and young people are being advised of a number of changes to testing, contact tracing and isolation, that have now come into effect across Scotland.

Latest advice on the way COVID-19 is being managed by Public Health means that from Sunday, May 1, a “stay at home” message replaced self-isolation for people who have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID.

Orkney Islands Council has issued advice on these changes for schools and nurseries.

Those who have symptoms of COVID-19 and who have a fever or are too unwell to carry out normal activities will be asked to stay at home while they are unwell or have a fever. They will no longer be advised to take a PCR test.

These changes will also see testing for the general population and most contact tracing end.

What this means in practice is that children and young people (those aged 18 and under) with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough — but who are otherwise well — do not need to stay at home and can continue to attend education settings.

They should only stay at home if they are unwell and have a high temperature. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a fever, and they feel well enough to attend.

This guidance differs slightly to that for adults and reflects the fact that children and young people generally have a higher likelihood than adults of regular instances of respiratory symptoms from non-COVID illnesses.

All children and young people with respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.

It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for COVID-19 unless directed to by a health professional.

If a child or young person has a positive COVID-19 test result they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for three days after the day they took the test or from symptom on set (whichever was earliest), if they can.

After three days, if they feel well and do not have a high temperature, the risk of passing the infection on to others is much lower. This is because children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.

Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive COVID-19 test result should continue to attend as normal.

Corporate director of education, leisure and housing, James Wylie, said: “The latest guidance is to provide support to schools, early learning and childcare settings, and the Education Directorate which will assist us in continuing with the delivery of childcare and education as safely as is possible.

“We will continue to follow the guidance as we have done all along to reduce the risks within our settings for all who attend.

A small number of routine protective measures will remain in place and this not just good practice but also important to provide protection and reassurance to children, young people and staff who may be on the highest risk list.

“These include encouraging vaccination, continued risk assessment within settings, good hand hygiene, regular surface cleaning, good ventilation, encouraging the wearing of face coverings in communal areas among senior students and staff and maintaining a safe distance when appropriate.

“It’s also encouraging that there is no longer the need for twice-weekly lateral flow testing among senior students or staff and a number of areas have reopened such as allowing school trips, day visits and assemblies. While we have not returned to a pre-pandemic situation, the changes are to be welcomed.”

Further information can be found on the NHS Inform website.