This is your daily email to keep you updated on the government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Mass coronavirus (COVID-19) testing pilots
On 16 October, the Prime Minister provided early details of small-scale pilots of new testing technologies that will begin this week.
- repeat asymptomatic testing of certain groups to identify those most at risk of spreading the virus and break chains of transmission
- lateral flow tests which are swab antigen tests that do not require a laboratory for processing. The results can be provided within an hour, and at the location where the test was taken
- saliva test that detects the virus from saliva samples, which are easy to collect and simple for the person to provide
The programme looks at technologies that will significantly increase the number of people who are able to be tested each day and reduce the time it takes to receive a test result.
The pilots will take place across the UK and in some of the worst affected regions, including the North West, North East and Yorkshire. They will include some students who are 16 and over (including Y12 and Y13 students in school) and staff at schools, colleges and universities, as well as some NHS hospitals and adult social care settings. The pilots will see individuals tested regularly, with confirmed results sent directly into the NHS Test and Trace system.
This is an early pilot, therefore if your school, college or university has not been contacted to take part in the pilot, no further action is required.
These pilots will not impact the work of NHS Test and Trace, which will continue as normal. If you have symptoms, you should continue to self-isolate and book a test via the usual routes. Anyone who tests positive, and their contacts, will still need to self-isolate in accordance with current rules.
These tests are not a substitute for measures the government is already asking people to take, such as washing your hands, covering your face, and practising social distancing.
Face coverings in education
We have updated our guidance on face coverings in education to reflect the Local COVID Alert Levels.
When an area moves to Local COVID Alert Level: high or very high, in settings where pupils in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.
Extraordinary regulatory framework: general qualifications, COVID-19 conditions and requirements
Ofqual has set out its regulatory requirements for awarding organisations offering general qualifications during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
On 16 October 2020, Ofqual published a notice to ensure non-exam assessment for the summer 2021 series can take place in all relevant GCSE, AS and A level subjects (which would otherwise be prohibited by Condition GQCov2). Additionally, awarding organisations can, but do not have to, offer assessment opportunities for advanced extension awards and extended project qualifications as part of the autumn 2020 series.
Transitional and saving provisions are in place and ensure all appeals arising from the summer 2020 series will continue to be governed by the relevant parts of the General Qualification Extraordinary Regulatory Framework (GQ ERF). The normal requirements for appeals (specified in the relevant Qualification Level Conditions) will apply to assessments taken in autumn 2020.
The information below hasn’t changed since our last update
Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline opening hours
The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline is available to answer questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education settings and children’s social care.
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.
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm
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 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: