Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Information and Updates

Updates on council services, latest news and information relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Back to School Information

Information on return to school

All West Lothian schools will return in August,  and parents, carers and pupils are being urged to make sure they are familiar with the guidance in place to keep everyone one safe.

What arrangements will remain in place when school starts in August?

Most arrangements to reduce the risk of Covid-19 will remain in place with no modification or only minor modification when schools start in August.  These will include:

  • Enhanced Cleaning
  • Enhanced Hand and Respiratory Hygiene
  • Physical Distancing
  • Use of Face Coverings in Communal Areas
  • Use of Face Coverings in Secondary School Classrooms
  • Asymptomatic Testing 
  • One-way Systems
  • Changes to Drop-off and Pick-up Arrangements
  • Staggered Start and Finish Times / Break and Lunch Times
  • Restrictions on Assemblies

What arrangements will change when schools start in August?

Some changes will be made, including new advice on:

  • Vaccination
  • Self-Isolation, Contact Tracing and Testing
  • Groupings and Bubbles
  • School Transport
  • Drama, Music, PE and Dance
  • Ventilation
  • People in The Highest Risk Group (Previously Those On The Shielding List)

Further details are given in answer to the following questions.

What is the advice on vaccination?

All schools will encourage staff to seek vaccination.

The Scottish Government has announced that children and young people with certain conditions are to be offered vaccination, in line with the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), before the majority of schools return on the 16 of August.  Children and young people affected, or their parents/carers, will be contacted directly by their local Health Boards or by their regular healthcare professional starting from the week of 2 August onwards.

The children and young people to be offered vaccination are:

  • around 4000 children and young people affected by severe neuro-disabilities, Down's syndrome, underlying conditions resulting in immunosuppression, and those who have a diagnosis of Learning/Intellectual disability,
  • young people aged 16 to 17 years of age who are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19,
  • children and young people aged 12-17 who are household contacts of adults or children who are immunosuppressed. A household contact is defined as someone living in the same house, or anyone the adult or child comes in to contact with face-to-face on most days of the week - such as a carer.

On 4 August 2021, the Scottish Government issued a further update to its plans to vaccinate young people.  The NHS will offer vaccination to all young people in Scotland aged 16 to 17 years. 

In line with the latest advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), they will be offered a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  

From Friday 6 August, young people aged 16 and 17 were invited to register their interest through the online portal at NHS Inform, and will then be sent an appointment via SMS or email.  In addition drop-in clinics will be available for 16 to 17-years-olds.  

Anyone who doesn't register an interest or attend a drop-in clinic, once open, will be sent an appointment invitation through the post. It is expected that everyone in this age group will have been offered a vaccination appointment by the end of September.

All information regarding vaccination including consent forms will be circulated by the NHS.

What should I do if I develop symptoms or test positive?

Staff, children and young people who develop symptoms or test positive must still self-isolate immediately.  Staff, children and young people will be strongly encouraged to inform their school of any positive test when reporting absences.

What should I do if I am identified as a "Close Contact"?

The advice for adults (18+) who are fully vaccinated and for children and young people (0-17), if they are identified as close contacts has changed, as follows.

  1. Book a PCR test and self-isolate until you receive the result. 
  2. If the test result is positive you must continue to self-isolate. 
  3. If the result is negative, and the close contact remains without symptoms, you can end self-isolation, and resume daily life including return to school, even if you have ongoing contact with the close contact. 
  4. Adults and young people in secondary school should continue to test twice weekly using LFDs available from their school.  Parents may also wish to encourage primary pupils to test twice weekly using the universal testing program.
  5. If you have had a positive PCR test in the last 90 days, close contacts do not need another PCR test to be exempt from self-isolation, provided you remain asymptomatic. 

People aged between 18 and 18 years and 4 months, who are not fully vaccinated should follow the advice for fully vaccinated adults.

Children aged under 5 who are identified as close contacts will be encouraged but not required to take a PCR test before they resume daily life including return to ELC and school.

Which "Close Contacts" will Test and Protect contact?

Only those close contacts aged under 18 who are at the highest risk of being exposed to infection will be contacted directly by Test and Protect. 

This group will include household contacts, overnight (sleepover) contact, or other clear, prolonged close contact.

Will whole classes still be required to isolate?

The approach of requiring whole classes or groupings of pupils to self-isolate as close contacts will no longer be followed in normal circumstances. 

Schools will send 'warn and inform' letters to staff, parents/carers and young people when they are made aware of positive cases, in order to ensure vigilance for symptoms and close following of mitigations and to encourage testing.

Will pupils still be kept in groupings or bubbles?

The revised approach to contact tracing means that maintaining pupils in groupings or bubbles is no longer required.  Schools will continue to avoid assemblies and other large gatherings.

Is physical distancing still required?

Physical distancing of at least 1m is required between adults, and between adults and pupils.  

The Guidance states that it is expected that most schools will wish to retain their current 2m distancing arrangements for logistical reasons and this will be the case in West Lothian schools.  

Maintaining distance between secondary pupils continues to be encouraged where possible.

Are visitors allowed in schools?

Visitors that are necessary to support children and young people or the running of the school (including supply staff, visiting teachers, psychologists, nurses, social workers, youth workers, outdoor learning specialists, Higher Education Institution tutors and those providing therapeutic support) can move between schools. 

Can parents/carers go into schools with their children?

Parents/carers may accompany children onto school premises where this is agreed with the school and strictly necessary to support children and young people.

What are arrangements for school transport?

Face coverings will be required by young people of 12 and over only. 

Physical distancing between passengers is not required, but pupils will be encouraged to maintain distance from other people where possible. 

1m distancing between drivers and children and young people should continue where possible.  Existing arrangements for cleaning, hygiene and ventilation will continue.

Are there any restrictions on drama, music, PE and dance?

Children and young people can now engage in all drama, music, PE and dance activity in schools, indoors and outdoors, although safety mitigations including good ventilation and enhanced hygiene should continue.

What are the rules on ventilation?

Existing practice on ventilation, including opening windows, will continue. 

Strengthened guidance on CO2 monitoring will be followed. 

All schools will have access to CO2 monitoring. 

Remedial action will be taken in any building that does not meet requirements following assessment. 

Is there any change to testing?

Staff and secondary pupils have been asked to take a test one or two days prior to their return to school. 

Schools will continue to promote actively twice weekly at home LFD testing to staff and secondary pupils, and encourage participants to record their results. 

Schools will be provided with improved communication materials, and a new type of LFD test kit involving a nasal only swab when current supplies run out.

What is the advice for people in the highest risk group (previously those on the shielding list)?

The Chief Medical Officer's advice to everyone on the list, at Level 0 and Beyond Level 0, is to follow the same advice as the rest of the population.  

Everyone on the highest risk list is encouraged to ask members of their household over 12 to use at-home LFD testing.

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