Coronavirus Information 16th December 2020

16th December 2020

This is your daily email to keep you updated on the government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for schools and colleges from January: operational guidance and training materials

Yesterday we announced that, from January, teachers and pupils will have access to rapid testing to help keep schools and colleges open throughout the spring term. A handbook to help schools and colleges prepare for rapid testing from January is now available. Additional guidance and training products will also be published later today and tomorrow.

On Friday 18 December between 13:00 to 14:00 there will be a live event to provide more information on testing, which will include an opportunity to ask questions. Following the event, a copy of the questions asked will be made available, together with the responses.

Remote education information template

Today we have published an optional template that has been designed to support schools in setting out information about their remote education provision on their websites by 25 January. Publishing this information will help pupils and their parents know what to expect from their school if they need to self-isolate or if restrictions require them to remain at home.

Schools and teachers have been working incredibly hard to make sure pupils’ education can continue uninterrupted, where they are unable to be in the classroom due to self-isolation. Setting out the details of this work on schools’ websites, as many are doing already, will make sure parents have key information about the plans for ensuring pupils receive high quality remote education.

We appreciate that the end of term is approaching and are clear that there is no expectation that teachers will engage with this optional resource during the school holidays. We have decided to publish the template now so that schools have sufficient notice prior to 25 January.

Actions for Further Education (FE) colleges and providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

We have updated the remote education section in the FE operational guidance.The update includes information on publishing your remote education offer so that students (and parents of students aged 19 and below) know what to expect of their FE provider if they need to self-isolate or if restrictions require them to remain at home. You should publish your remote education offer on your website by 25 January with the information outlined in the guidance. This update also includes the change to the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days.

COVID-19 Workforce fund guidance for schools and FE colleges

We have published guidance for schools and colleges setting out the eligibility criteria and claims process for the COVID-19 Workforce Fund, announced on 27 November. The fund helps schools and colleges with high staff absences and significant financial pressures due to coronavirus (COVID-19) to meet the cost of absences experienced during the period from 1 November until the end of this term.

PHE Advice Line opening hours

The PHE advice line, accessed by calling the DfE Coronavirus helpline on 0800 046 8687, will be closed from 25-28 December and on 1 January. If you have an urgent public health issue that you need advice on, please use locally agreed support arrangements or contact your local PHE Health Protection Team.

The information below has not changed since our last update

Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline – holiday hours

The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) will be available over the holidays to answer any questions you have about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education settings and children’s social care. These helplines will close on the bank holidays and have shortened opening hours on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Opening hours:

24 December – 8am to 4pm
25 to 28 December – Closed
29 to 30 December – 8am to 6pm
31 December – 9am to 4pm
1 January – Closed
2 to 3 January – 10am to 6pm

Until 24 December, the helpline opening hours are:

Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm

Please listen carefully to all of the available options before selecting the most appropriate option for your nursery, school, college or university.

Please select option 1 or 2 if you require specific advice on the action to take to respond to a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your setting. This option will take you through to a dedicated team of NHS Business Services Authority advisors who will work through a risk assessment with you to identify close contacts and will inform you what action is needed based on the latest public health advice.

Please select option 3 or 4 for any other questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education settings and children’s social care.

Look up your unique organisation number (UON)

If you have not received your unique organisation number (UON) for ordering new coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits you can look it up using your unique reference number (URN) or your UK provider reference number (UKPRN) or by calling the Test and Trace helpdesk on 119.

Department for Education guidance

Our guidance to support education providers, local authorities and parents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be accessed using the links below: