New Covid rules: what you need to know

All the new Covid guidelines and latest announcements for the start of the Spring term and what it means for private candidates…

Ahead of the start of the Spring term in England this week, the government has announced new guidance and a raft of measures to tackle the Omicron variant of Covid.

Here’s everything you need to know:

  1. The seven-day isolation period has been confirmed 

As first reported by Tes, the changes to the isolation period required for Covid cases does apply. The 10-day self-isolation period for those who record a positive PCR test result for Covid-19 has been reduced to seven days in most circumstances. Individuals may now take rapid lateral flow tests on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period. If those test results are negative they no longer have to complete 10 full days of self-isolation.

  1. The definition of a ‘vulnerable’ child has been expanded

The definition of a vulnerable child to date has been:

  • those with a social worker
  • those with an Education, Health and Care Plan
  • a group of children considered locally, including by settings and local authorities, to be ‘otherwise vulnerable’

The DfE said this has now been expanded to:

  • children known to children’s social care services in the past
  • children whose home circumstances might be particularly challenging because of domestic abuse, parental offending, adult mental health issues, and drug and alcohol addiction
  1. Any planned examinations will go ahead in January

The government says all planned January examinations should go ahead, and that schools/exam centres should contact the Awarding Organisation for any adaptations to the processes deemed necessary.

  1. Isolation rules for close contacts re-iterated

As before, those who are fully vaccinated, or pupils and young people aged between 5 and 18 and a half, who have been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid, should take a lateral flow test every day for seven days and, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time, they should continue to attend their setting as normal.

Children under the age of 5 should not do a daily test or self-isolate and should attend their provision unless they receive a positive PCR test result.

Here is our Covid Protocol notice as a reminder of what we are doing to keep us all safe whilst working in conjunction with government guidelines

  • We recommend you take a lateral flow test on the morning of your exam.  If you get a positive result, call your centre immediately(024 6722 1008 – Select Centre Option)
  • You must not attend your exam if you or a family member has tested positive for Covid within 7 days of your examination date.
  • You must arrive at the centre by the following times for your exam:

08:45 am for morning examinations

12:45 pm for afternoon examinations

(This is to allow us sufficient time for us to check you in)

  • Only our staff and candidates may enter examination areas. Anyone accompanying you to the exam, will not be admitted.
  • You must use the hand sanitising station upon arrival at the exam centre.
  • You must observe social distancing. We ask you to remain at least two metres apart (wherever possible).
  • We request you wear PPE (face mask etc).  Current legislationrequires you to wear your mask in all communal areas of the building. You will beable to remove it once you are seated in the exam room.  If you do not have a face mask, we can provide one for a charge of £2.50.
  • If you feel comfortable, we request you wear your mask for the entirety of the exam.
  • While your ID is being checked, do not pass it to us.
  • You will need to pull down any face covering and hold up your ID to show the member of staff for identification purposes.  We will ask to see the inside of your mask.
  • AllTutors & Exams staff will be in PPE for your safety and theirs (do not be alarmed).
  • All desks, door handles, and chairs will be sanitised before and after each exam.  A log of sanitations carried out by Tutors & Exams staff will be located in each exam room for your reference.
  • All our centres/exam rooms have air sanitising (fogging) machines which destroy 99.99% of harmful airborne bacteria and infectious organisms and can be used on all surfaces including soft furnishings.  Each centre/exam room is fogged at the end of each examination day.
  • There are no waiting areas in any of our centres.  As you arrive, you will be immediately escorted to the exam room and will be under exam conditions.
  • Exam tables will be positioned with additional spacein between them, where possible, exceeding the mandatory 1.25m spacing requirement of Awarding Organisations
  • Bags are not permitted in examination rooms. Please refer to your joining instructionssent previously.
  • Before entering the building, phones need to be switched off and watches removed. Neither are permitted in the examination room.  If any phones/watchesneed to be handed over, they will be placed in individual bags at the front of the room with the invigilator, at your own risk.
  • If you require tissues, these will be provided along with a bag to dispose of them safely.  You cannot use centre bins.
  • If required, we request you use a toilet before entering the exam centre. However, if youdo need to use our toilet facilities during your visit, you will need to clean it down after use (wipes will be provided).
  • Ensure you bring all the equipment you require for your exam and take it home with you.
  • If you do not bring allyour equipment, you canpurchase a full stationery kit from us on the day for £24.
  • Bring as few personal items as possible to the exam centre.
  • Dress appropriatelyfor the weather conditions.  We suggest you wear layers.
  • You will be asked to leave the exam room and building in an orderly fashion.  Please wait until you are asked to leave.

You must follow the instructions of all centre staff.  Failure to do so may result in your refusal to the exam room.

Thank you for your consideration and understanding