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News Article CONTACT THE BSA
Coronavirus Guidance as at 17.08.2020
17th August 2020

Dear members,

This week’s COVID-19 communication covers:

  1. New update as of 17.08.20
  2. Links to previous advice.

As ever the update is issued by BSA in conjunction with our partners BAISIS and ISC. BSA reminds all schools that it is not a medical, statutory or legal authority and any advice is given on that basis.

 

After 28 updates over seven months, most of the time weekly, this is the final regular BSA COVID-19 update. With pupils in most countries “back-to-school” from early September, future COVID-19 advice will be issued in the regular weekly newsletter, published every Thursday from August 27, 2020. However, with yesterday having yet again produced the greatest number of worldwide cases on record, back-to-school certainly does not mean back-to-normal and urgent updates may well continue to be necessary for quite some time yet. This bulletin will hopefully contain most of the links required, but a reminder that all COVID-19 advice and guidance is available on the bespoke BSA webpage.

A.1: What has changed

On the date of our first bulletin in January there had been no cases in the UK, and no country outside China had more than five reported cases. There were 2,798 cases in total. Seven months on there are 21.3 million reported cases, which will include many people reading this bulletin. World deaths reported stand at over three-quarters of a million and despite progress, a viable programme of vaccination seems some way off yet. As BSA has highlighted from the start, therefore, flexibility will be the key to success for schools in the coming months, as there is no way of predicting how matters will develop. Planning for cases in school, for accommodating pupils unexpectedly when they can’t get home, for pupils having difficulty with travel back to school and accounting for local lockdowns which affect the school will hopefully be part of everyone’s plans. It would be advisable to begin contingency planning for northern hemisphere autumn breaks; for Christmas, and (for those schools which run on a calendar year cycle) for the challenges of the “new school year” in your part of the world. 

The list of countries most badly affected remains relatively constant, but recent days have seen flare-ups in countries which had seemed to deal particularly well with the first wave, including South Korea, Australia and even New Zealand, which had gone over 100 days without any community transmission. According to the WHO, the only countries of any size reporting fewer than 100 cases in the last seven days include New Zealand, Mongolia, Thailand, Iceland, Uruguay, Jamaica, the Baltic States, Israel, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, some countries in South-East Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa. The Americas now account for 55% of the total deaths. The USA, Mexico, several countries in South America, South Africa, Iran, India, the Philippines and Italy all reported more than 100 new deaths. In all parts of the world, 27 different countries reported over 1,000 new cases yesterday, including five in Europe (Russia, Turkey, France, Romania, Ukraine). A further 21 European countries had over 100 cases, with over 600 in Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Italy. As is shown by the removal of Malta from the UK list of countries exempted from self-isolation on arrival, many smaller countries have similarly high rates of transmission. Also, some countries do not report at the weekend, and Spain also has high numbers of cases. It seems inevitable, therefore, that further countries will be removed from that list in the future, and that travel restrictions will continue to apply worldwide for quite some time. The UK seems temporarily to have stopped reporting figures to WHO, but the daily figure has climbed back over 1,000 on average. In better news, in the last bulletin only two weeks ago, the UK was averaging 65 deaths a day, and this figure is now regularly in single figures, although there was a change to the calculation methodology between those times.

A.2: Useful resources – generic

A.3: Useful resources – UK

A.4: Guidance on the return to school in England

BSA has been advised as recently as Friday (14/8) by DfE that the long-promised self-isolation advice for boarding schools is still awaiting sign-off from other departments. DfE is aware of the urgency, and BSA can only currently advise to use the existing generic guidance for the time being:

For schools inspected by Ofsted, updated guidance on social care inspections of boarding has been published today (17/8):

BSA is pleased to pass on the following message from ISC relating to exam results: 

The ISC is collecting A-level results to support trends analysis and inform the sector of the situation. This is a voluntary process and we are grateful to all schools who choose to share their data. We do not intend to publish the findings publicly but will share them with associations. This information is enormously helpful in drawing an accurate picture of the calculated grades scenario. Alongside associations, the ISC remains committed to supporting schools at this challenging time.

BSA has been grateful for the co-operation and support of all ISC associations over the past challenging months. 

A.5: Guidance on the return to school in Scotland

Scottish schools were able to reopen from August 11:

BSA has been grateful for the close co-operation with SCIS throughout the pandemic. SCIS also issued the following update last week on school trips and visits:

School day trips can now resume from the autumn term. This advice sets out some key COVID-19 infection mitigation measures that must be followed. Schools must also undertake full and thorough risk assessments in relation to all educational visits to ensure they can be done safely.

Commissioned by the Scottish Government, additional advice for the safe reopening of outdoor education centres for day trips has also been published by the Scottish Advisory Panel on Outdoor Education (SAPOE), in partnership with local authorities and representatives of outdoor education centres. This can be found on the following webpage: https://www.goingoutthere.co.uk/appendix/coronavirus-covid-19-reopening-and-operation-of-outdoor-education-centres-and-reintroducing-visits-by-schools/.

Domestic and overseas residential visits, where learners spend at least one night away from their homes, are still advised against, due to the increased risk of creating chains of transmission.

This advice covers the autumn term. It will be kept under review, with a view to providing an update for the spring term, if not before. 

We have also received the following guidance from SCIS today (17/8) regarding pupils returning from non-exempt countries:

Scotland's Directors of Public Health alerted us on Friday (14/8) to a number of cases of children being in school after recently returning from countries not exempt from self-isolation (“quarantine”) rules. This has also been raised by members of the Education Recovery Group. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 require all those returning‎ to Scotland from non-exempt countries to self-isolate at home or another appropriate location for 14 days. Those self-isolating should not go out to work or school or visit public areas. This point is covered prominently in the sector advice card (attached) which should be displayed in all schools. As you will know, the list of exempt countries has been changed in recent days, with the removal of some countries, including France and the Netherlands, where people in Scotland commonly spend their holidays.

We would be grateful if you would communicate these requirements immediately to all headteachers and heads of early learning and childcare settings in your area asking them to take urgent action, including ensuring appropriate safeguarding measures are in place. This includes engaging with children, young people and their families to ensure adherence to the legal requirements. 

We attach a link to the relevant guidance and to the list of exempt countries. Directors of Public Health and local health protection teams are available to offer further support where there are concerns.

A.6: Guidance on the return to school in Wales

The Operational Guidance and Guidance on Learning remain as previously published.

BSA and WISC have worked very closely in recent months. Both have seen draft guidance for boarding schools in Wales, but the final version is still awaiting ministerial approval. This was shared with members in Wales at the Forum on August 12. Any school wishing to know more should contact Emma Verrier at WISC in the first instance.

A.7: Guidance on the return to school in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland schools will reopen for Primary 7 and Years 12 and 14 on August 24. All Northern Ireland advice is collated on the COVID-19 site for education. This includes the letter from the Minister of Education of August 13.

A.8: BSA COVID-19 supplier list

BSA has a list of suppliers of vital equipment on our website, and the list continues to grow. BSA does not officially endorse any of the products listed. Schools are urged to perform their own due diligence checks on any company they plan to approach:

For more detail on each of the suppliers, please visit the BSA COVID supplier page here.

A.9: #BSAheroes

Please continue to send good news stories to us at bsa@boarding.org.uk. Please nominate anyone worthy of a special mention by using the hashtag #BSAheroes.

B. Links to previous BSA advice

If you would like further advice from the BSA, please email bsa@boarding.org.uk.

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