Created on: 09 Dec 2021 | Last modified: 09 Dec 2021
Members will be aware of recent developments around the new Omicron Covid variation. Whilst it seems clear that the variant is more transmissible, it is not yet determined whether it is more virulent (and therefore liable to lead to more severe illness) or whether there is immune escape i.e. vaccines offer less protection.
Omicron case numbers in Scotland are low but clearly increasing rapidly. No significant changes have taken place in relation to societal mitigations, but the situation is being monitored closely by the Scottish Government.
The potential implications for schools have been discussed at CERG and some contingency planning is being undertaken with regard to next term, if the evidence around the two issues above necessitates changes to mitigations. At this stage we simply don’t know if changes will be required but as the EIS survey will make clear, teachers are exhausted and we have stated clearly the welfare of school staff has to be central to future contingencies.
One operational change from Public Health Scotland which has been enacted is to treat identified Omicron cases more rigorously under Test and Trace, which effectively means that any identified close contacts, including pupils and staff, will be required to self-isolate for 10 days irrespective of vaccine status. Delta cases will continue to be dealt with by vaccinated individuals being required to self-isolate until clear PCR test is obtained.
A letter has been issued to schools and Councils setting out the procedure.
Clearly this is a worrying period. Immediate advice over the next few weeks is to ensure maximum adherence to the existing guidance on areas such as physical distancing, mask wearing, cleaning, hygiene, and ventilation. Members are encouraged, also, to take full advantage of the LFT offer in their schools and those eligible for booster vaccinations should seek this added protection.
Further bulletins will be issued if there are new developments. In the meantime, please continue to do all that you can within the existing guidance to keep yourself and others safe. Current EIS guidance on Covid safety can be accessed here.
Over 16,000 members responded to the survey – thank you for finding the time.
We plan to release the findings in three separate reports: Covid issues; Health and Wellbeing; and workload – with the first being published next week.