Please see the revised Covid guidance for adult and older people’s care homes and changes to the testing programme for social care. Please note that these documents contain links to other relevant and associated information.
New schools and ELC guidance has been published – Routine Covid Protection Measures in Schools and Routine Covid Protection Measures in early learning and childcare, school age childcare and childminding settings
All updated guidance will come into force at the same time as the asymptomatic testing programme comes to a close – i.e. from 18th April. In some local authority areas, this will mean after schools return from their April break if they are not open on the 18th. Should there be any changes to infection rates in specific areas there will still be capacity for local public health interventions and localised measures. This means that school and ELC guidance will be in line with measures for other workplaces.
School Support Statistics
Some useful statistics on selected categories of school support staff have been published – it outlines numbers for pupil support assistants, home-school link workers, behaviour support staff, educational psychologists, school nurses and library staff.
The Ventilation in Schools guidance was recently updated and you can find the updated version here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-ventilation-guidance/
The First Minister this week announced a new staged approach to easing protective measures and recovering from the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In her statement, she confirmed the details of the updated Strategic Framework to manage COVID-19 primarily through public health advice, vaccination, and treatment rather than legal restrictions and set out an indicative timescale for remaining legal protections to be lifted.
Key points are:
- Vaccine certification will no longer be legally required from Monday 28 February, although the app will remain available so any business that wishes to continue certification on a voluntary basis to reassure customers will be able to do so.
- Current legal requirements on the use of face coverings, the collection of customer details for contact tracing purposes, and for businesses, service providers and places of worship to have regard to guidance on Covid and to take reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance are expected to be lifted on 21 March, subject to the state of the pandemic.
- Access to lateral flow and PCR tests will continue to be free of charge, ahead of a detailed transition plan being published on the future of Scotland’s test and protect programme in March.
- People who test positive for COVID-19 will continue to be asked to self-isolate to reduce the risk of infecting other people. Any changes to the recommended period of self-isolation will be considered on an ongoing basis.
Full details of the announcement are here: https://www.gov.scot/news/living-safely-with-covid/ And a copy of the updated Strategic Framework is here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-scotlands-strategic-framework-update-february-2022/
The Workforce Issues Group will be discussing this at its next meeting on Friday 4th March so if you have any views or comments that you would like us to feed into that please drop me a line.
Covid 19 – Second boosters for at-risk groups
The arrangements for second boosters to be delivered to at-risk groups has been announced – details here: https://www.gov.scot/news/second-boosters-for-at-risk-groups/
The Scottish Government has published the responses to the National Care Service consultation. You can read them here: https://www.gov.scot/news/national-care-service-consultation-responses-published/
The Distance Aware initiative was formally launched in Scotland on Wednesday 26 January. Additional information on the launch is provided below, along with a stakeholder pack. The Scottish Government requests support in promoting and raising awareness of the scheme.
The Scottish Government has worked with the Bevan Commission to adopt the Distance Aware scheme and adapt it for Scotland. The initiative is designed to support people in adapting to live with the Covid virus in ways that are less restrictive and can help overcome anxiety and help to build confidence about returning to public settings as and when they re-open.
The initiative enables individuals (and organisations if they wish) to politely prompt ongoing distancing and respect of individual social space. The scheme is symbolised by a shield with arrows indicating the desired space. The shield icon is worn as a badge or lanyard to allow individuals to indicate that they would like to have space around them.
User research carried out by the Scottish Government last summer showed that nearly a quarter (24%) of the people on the Highest Risk List surveyed said they had not met people outdoors who were not part of their household; 50% said they had not met others indoors; and that 73% of those who were expecting to return to work felt uncomfortable about the prospect.
The scheme is completely voluntary and is available to anyone who needs it for any reason, to make sure everyone benefits as restrictions are eased and we return to a more normal way of life. This will be a big step or change for some for many reasons, and it is hoped that this will make more people confident and comfortable in public places and work. It also provides an opportunity to discuss with staff, customers or members what living with the virus and returning to a more normal way of life means for everyone, and how we can do this in consideration of those who find it harder to adapt.
To ensure success of the scheme the Scottish Government is asking businesses and representative organisations to help raise awareness of the Distance Aware symbol with staff, customers and members.
The attached stakeholder pack provides information on Distance Aware, and includes suggestions on ways in which business and organisations can participate in the scheme, and offers resources to support them with this.
Please note that the Chief Medical Officer has written to everyone on the highest risk list to provide an update following the recent easing of protective measures, and to highlight the Distance Aware scheme.
The CMO letter also provides information on priority access to PCR tests, updated information around lateral flow tests, sources of mental health support, and advice for those who may be considering a change in employment.
Covid Office Guidance inc Hybrid Working
The Covid guidance on office working has been revised and updated with guidance on hybrid working. You can read the revised guidance here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-offices/
Covid – Advice for people at highest risk
The Covid guidance for those at highest risk has been updated – the updated document can be accessed here:
State of the epidemic
The current ‘state of the epidemic’ document outlining the progress of the virus can be found here:
Life after lockdown: how do we best recover from the pandemic?
An interesting article on the impact of and how we best recover from the pandemic:https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/jan/16/life-after-lockdown-how-do-we-best-recover-from-the-pandemic?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other
The Scottish Government has updated the self-isolation exemption guidance for health and social care staff. The revised guidance can be found here: https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/details.asp?PublicationID=7514 We understand that an accompanying flowchart and FAQ document are to following the coming days.
The guidance removes the need for fully vaccinated staff, identified as contacts to PCR test prior to returning to work. They should take an LFD test instead. If the LFD test is negative and provided they don’t have a fever or other symptoms staff can continue to work following a risk assessment by their line manager. They should also continue to take an LFD test every day for a 10 day period.
The guidance also clarifies that staff that test positive should pause their workplace LFD testing for 28 days (from day 1 of symptom onset or asymptomatic test date). If they are also required to PCR test weekly, they should also pause this for a period of 90 days. Please also note that the guidance highlights that the likelihood of a positive LFD test in the absence of a high temperature after 10 days is low, so further testing is not advised, unless they have renewed symptoms.