COVID-19: Schools Update - 1 May

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schools update

Latest update for all schools - 1 May

dan barton

Dear All,

I will start my introduction to you all this week, as ever, with my thanks, on behalf of all of Cumbrian pupils, parents and keyworkers for everything that you are doing.

There is a lot to read today, and I am conscious of not wanting to overload colleagues with additional content. However, there are a couple of important general messages.

Firstly, I wanted to reassure everyone that, as things stand, there are no plans in train for opening schools up again either now, or after half term. The ‘national conversation’ is largely centred around this, but there has been no confirmation thus far. We convened a recovery group some weeks ago, as you know, and are beginning to do the thinking about what a return to ‘normal’ will look like, and how it will work. Suffice to say that there are and will be a large number of currently unanswered questions about this. It’s worth remembering that our whole country is responding to a situation, and no one really knows what to do! I’ll echo my earlier communication this week by reiterating that the strength of the Cumbrian response to Covid-19 has been the way that we have worked together, and done our thinking early. We’ll keep you all in the loop.

Secondly, in a normal year, colleagues would not be far away from thinking about half term and the much needed break that this would afford. We will clearly still need a break this year too, and colleagues will want a steer about how the break is likely to work this year. Clearly, as part of normal ‘holiday’ time, my sense is that central government will want to approach things in the same way as they did the Easter Holiday. There may be demand for the key worker child care places which were a feature in many schools during Easter in the lead up to the peak of the epidemic in the UK. However, as you know, a feature of our environment at the moment is the speed with which things change. We will aim to interpret what guidance comes out in relation to this and to communicate with you about it as soon as possible.

Take care this weekend,

Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills
Cumbria County Council

Laptop coordination

As previously advised the LA has established a project group to manage the co-ordination of digital devices allocated to the LA by the DfE – those eligible for these are Disadvantaged Yr 10 pupils at LA maintained schools and all care leavers and children & young people aged 0 to 19 with a social worker. 

We are currently undertaking a rapid exercise to establish the needs of children and young people across these cohorts to enable us to compare this with the LA’s allocation and also to determine which types of device would be most suitable for whom – thank you for your support with this. 

We are also conscious of the potential overlap between the eligible cohorts and are obviously keen to work with you to manage this. Our efforts are all designed to ensure the most effective utilisation of Cumbria’s allocation. Once this initial work is complete we will start to work with schools on the logistics of providing devices to those school aged children and young people.

Coronavirus testing for schools based staff

Swab testing for coronavirus is now available for essential workers (and members of their households) who work in Schools. The test, is a voluntary diagnostic test and will let employees who have symptoms or a member of their household who has symptoms, know if they actually have the virus at a particular point in time.

Head Teachers will need to familiarise themselves with the process and encourage those staff with symptoms to have test. Please note this is voluntary test and Schools are not able to enforce testing.

Further details can be found on:

  1. Who can access the testing
  2. How to access the testing
  3. Testing site locations
  4. What happens at the test
  5. What to do about the results
  6. When can employees return to work

Who can access the testing

The government have announced a list of eligible key workers who can now be tested they include:

  • All social care staff
  • Essential public services staff, including:
    • workers delivering critical frontline services
    • fire and rescue service employees (including support staff),
  • Transport workers, including:
    • those who keep the road and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus response
    • those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass
  • Education and childcare workers, including:
    • support and teaching staff
    • social workers
    • specialist education professionals
  • Critical personnel in the production and distribution of food, drink and essential goods, including:
    • those involved in food production, processing, distribution and delivery
    • those critical to the provision of other essential goods, such as medical supply chain and distribution workers, including veterinary medicine
    • workers critical to the continuity of essential movement of goods
  • Local and national government staff critical to the effective delivery of the coronavirus response, or delivering essential public services
  • Frontline local authority staff, including those working with vulnerable children and adults, with victims of domestic abuse, and with the homeless and rough sleepers
  • Utilities, communication and financial services staff, including:
    • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the coronavirus response

In addition people with symptoms or members of their household can be tested where they are:

  • Over 65 (announced 29 April 2020)
  • People who cannot work from home and have to attend a work location whether they are classed as a key worker or not (announced 29 April 2020).

A full list can be found here.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever and persistent new cough or a combination of symptoms including shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste/smell.

Testing is available for a worker (as detailed above) who has symptoms of COVID-19 and are following government guidelines on self-isolating;


A member of the employee’s household (over 18) who has symptoms of COVID-19, and the employee is following government guidelines and self-isolating.

Anyone who has had symptoms and been self-isolating for more than five days is not eligible for testing. Testing must take place 1-5 days from the onset of symptoms to be reliable.

How do employees organise a test?

Self referral

Ideally all employees should organise a test themselves using the government website:

It is a simple process but staff will need a personal mobile number and email. They can choose to attend either a drive through appointment or receive a home testing kit. However, the home testing kits are limited and where possible, drive through appointments should be used.

Once registered they will be sent a text or email containing a code, which will link to the appointment site. They will then follow the link into the website and book their appointment at the location of their choosing. They will then receive an email or text containing a QR code. They will have to take, either a printout of the email or download the test confirmation and QR code onto their smart phone; this will be scanned on arrival at the testing site. Photo ID such as passport or driving licence will also be required. They will also need their staff ID.

Please note no more than four members of the household can attend the drive through appointment in one car and all need to have a separate appointment. Also note that the testing is not available for those under 18 at some sites, although this is being reviewed.

Management referral

Alternatively, employers can register and refer eligible staff via the Government portal. The Local Authority expects school to register and refer their staff where necessary. It may be preferable for schools to encourage employees to self-register for testing. If the school refers an employee through the government portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves. 

Where are the Test sites?

Further information on test sites can be found here

Please note these are government testing sites:


Penrith Rugby Club, Winters Park, Penrith, CA11 8RQ


Westmorland General Hospital, Burton Road, Kendal LA9 7RG


Ikea car park, Metro Park West, Pinetree Way, Swalwell, Gateshead NE11 9XS


Preston College Car park, St Vincents Rd, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 8UR

 What happens at the test?

Staff should only arrive at a test centre in a car, there is no option for public transport, walking or taxis. They will need to arrive in the vehicle registered on their application and each person who requires testing must be seated adjacent to an opening window.

The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted). The person may experience some mild discomfort and may feel a gagging sensation, but it should not hurt. The sample is then sent to the lab for testing.

The test results should be available within 48 hours of a swab being taken, or within 72 hours for a home test. Staff will receive the result via, phone, text or email.

Managers won’t be told the appointment date and time of an individual’s appointment.

What to do about the results?

Staff - are asked to inform their Head teacher/Manager of their results whether positive or negative and their Head teacher/manager will advise on the next steps.

Once you have your results you should contact your line manager. Please let your manager know the date/ type of test / result. They will then ensure that the results are recorded. This will help with business continuity planning in the future. 

Schools should ensure that test results are recorded for reference and reporting purposes.  It is recommended that the following information should be recorded for each employee test:

  • Employee Name
  • Test type
  • Test Date
  • Test Result

The government has issued a privacy notice which covers the data and testing information collated through the government portal. 

When can employees return to work?

Please see the attached flowchart for guidance on when an employee can return to work depending upon how they are feeling and their test result.

Social distancing in education and childcare settings

The implementation of social distancing measures within a school environment is required to help ensure that the risk of virus spread for both staff and children is as low as possible, in education and childcare settings that remain open.

It is recognised that the practicalities of this can be very difficult, particularly for those settings with Early Years and Primary age children. However mitigating the spread of coronavirus has to continue to be a top priority. The Government released the guidance document implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings which provides advice to support staff working in schools and other childcare settings with measures that can be implemented to help limit the risk of the virus entering and spreading within the setting.

It is understandable that social distancing measures within education and childcare settings will be hard to maintain and therefore staff are reminded to implement the measures as far as they are able, whilst ensuring they and the children remain safe within their settings.

In order to continue to manage and reduce the risks it is important to consider what additional measures could be taken and these should be identified and your existing risk assessment reviewed and amended accordingly. If you require any additional support whilst reviewing your risk assessments, please feel free to contact the Health and Safety team for advice.

Internet safety guidance for parents

In light of the current situation it is safe to say that schools and other sectors alike are not running at full capacity however please note that the Cumbria Prevent team, alongside our colleagues in Counter Terrorism North West are working very much business as usual.

We are here to support your school should you have a Prevent concern or query.

With many students having to stay at home and in doors we appreciate the possibility of increased internet and social media use. To raise awareness and provide advice for parents, our Prevent colleagues have been working with the Department of Education to create a leaflet around online safety.

Please feel free to disseminate this to your parents or add to online platforms.

If this information is passed onto parents, please can you notify

School transport applications deadline

The deadline is fast approaching for new home to school transport applications for pupils starting in September.  Please could you place a reminder on your website or social media outlet the deadline for the new home to school transport applications is the 31 May.  Applications can be made here.

Any queries please email

A reminder to complete our data collection form

Please complete and submit the survey each day before 11am. Please only complete this survey if you are open and providing provision. If you are working as part of a schools hub, the lead hub should complete the survey and report all children that attend. Do not submit a survey if you are closed, or the children from your school now attend another Childcare and Learning Hub.

Due to a steady increase in demand and context of those attending, we appreciate that the hub and stand-alone structures will change. This does place some challenge in updating the survey. If you cannot find your details in a drop down menu or feel that the drop down does not include your correct details, please use the standalone section to submit your return and use the comments to clarify. Please be assured, these are read each day and LIS General Advisers will follow up with you. We ask for your patience if the form is not accurately showing the context of your own hub/school immediately after your return.

Please continue to complete the DfE data return alongside our own form. We are  not providing data to the DfE. This is something of a duplication, I know, but necessary. The DfE site will be feeding us information which is 24 hours out of date, and will not allow us to support and co-ordinate support for hubs in real time.