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18th Sept 2020

School and college responsibility for autumn exams

We have published guidance on public health arrangements for autumn exams, to enable schools, colleges and other exam centres to deliver exams in October and November in a COVID-secure way. The guidance is for school and college senior leaders, heads of exam centres, staff involved in exam delivery, multi-academy trusts and local authorities and applies to all types of exam centre. It covers guidance on preparing for autumn exams, including wearing of face coverings in exams, set up of the exam room, cleaning and arrival and departure of candidates.

The guidance should be read alongside the DfE’s guidance on schools and colleges’ responsibilities for the autumn exams and is supplementary to the public health advice in the guidance for schools, further education providers and special schools.

New process for reporting positive confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your setting

The new dedicated advice service for nurseries, schools and colleges was launched yesterday. The service is for those needing support on the action they should take when they have been informed of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their setting (i.e. a pupil or staff member testing positive).

This new service has been introduced by Public Health England (PHE) and is delivered by the NHS Business Services Authority, working to agreed PHE and DfE guidance. It can be reached by calling the DfE’s existing coronavirus helpline number on 0800 046 8687, and selecting option 1. This option will take you through to the dedicated team of advisors who will inform you what action is needed based on the latest public health advice. They will work through a risk assessment with you to identify close contacts. Advisors will be responsible for referring more complex cases, as necessary, following a triaging of your circumstances during the call.

This new advice service has been introduced following a significant increase in calls to PHE’s Health Protection Teams since the start of the new school term. The new service, working together with Health Protection Teams, aims to ensure calls are handled promptly.

We want to ensure education settings have access to the advice they need to make decisions. This dedicated advice service is designed to expand the options available for that support. This approach will free up capacity of PHE’s Local Health Protection Teams to deal with more complex cases, for example special schools and universities, or outbreaks. Depending on your local arrangements, you may also want to inform your local authority of a positive case in your setting. Where more detailed local arrangements are in place with your local authority, and are working, you can continue to receive support through that route to take action in response to a positive case.

The advice service will be open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The DfE helpline also remains available for all other queries about coronavirus on 0800 046 8687, including for advice on those displaying symptoms. Please listen carefully to the available options and select the one most appropriate to your setting’s current situation.

To reflect this change, we’ve updated: