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DfE Covid-19 update 23.03.21

Please speak to Tracey or any member of Playgroup staff if you have any queries. Thankyou! xx

Department for Education

This is your daily email to keep you updated on the government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you have colleagues who would like to receive this email directly, please ask them to use this subscription form.

Testing at home throughout the Easter holidays for schools and colleges

Following the success of the asymptomatic testing programme on the return to school and college, it is vital to keep testing at home throughout the Easter holidays and into the summer term. Please pass on this message to all of your staff, students and parents:

test twice a week at home from now on (all those who are able to)

report results online as positive, negative or void. This information is critical in helping us to understand the prevalence of the virus across the country

continue to test twice weekly over the Easter holidays

test before returning to school or college for the summer term, either the night before, or morning of, the first day back, to find and isolate any positive cases

Families and households can also access home test kits for adults.

Test kits for pupils, students and staff should be accessed via the education testing programme

Further deliveries of self-test kits for secondary schools and further education (FE) colleges will arrive this week, which should include enough kits to last over the Easter holiday.

Some schools and FE colleges have been registering on the National Workplace Testing website to order test kits or have been directing staff or students to local testing sites to collect test kits.

Schools, nurseries and FE colleges are covered under the education testing programme and will continue to be provided with test kits through this programme. Any registrations by schools, nurseries or FE colleges to National Workplace Testing will be deleted and you will not receive kits via this route.

If you need a replenishment of lateral flow device (LFD) test kits or want to report any issues with a delivery, you can do this by using the dedicated routes detailed below:

primary schools, attached nurseries and maintained nursery schools should use this contact us form

private, voluntary and independent nurseries (PVIs) should use this contact us form. Please note that you will receive further test kit deliveries between 24 to 26 March, which will accommodate testing until early May

secondary schools and FE colleges should use this contact us form to re-order asymptomatic test site (ATS) test kits. Further deliveries of self-test kits are being made this week. You can view the delivery schedule here. This should give you enough supplies to last over the Easter holiday

further details on future replenishment arrangements for self-test kits will be provided in due course

All orders are processed on a weekly basis. Unless specified otherwise, you need to submit your request by 5pm on Wednesday for a delivery during the following week.

If you feel you have missed a delivery of test kits, before contacting us to report a missed delivery using the relevant contact us forms (above), please do the following:

check with your facilities team and catering department in case they have received the delivery

if a delivery has not arrived, please wait until the day after the scheduled delivery date before reporting it as a missed delivery

PVI nurseries are advised to check for a “Sorry we missed you” card, which provides further information on how to arrange a re-delivery or pick up

When and how to report testing related incidents

All schools, colleges, and nurseries should continue to escalate specific self-testing related incidents to the DfE helpline, for example, reports from staff or students of multiple voids (all voids in one pack or sudden overall increase in void reports), breakages, and other issues with testing kits.

Schools, nurseries and FE colleges should remind staff and students who are testing at home to call 119 to report issues such as damaged, missing or difficult to use items in the kit, or where they are unable to log their results.

If an incident led to, or has potential for, harm (for example, swab breaks in the mouth, bleeding, allergic reaction on using the kit), as well as seeking support from the helplines above, the individual testing at home should report this on the coronavirus (COVID-19) yellow card reporting site.

Free school meals claims process for schools

All children should be able to access a nutritious meal at school and these meals are free to those that are eligible. Where pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals are required to stay at home, you should work with your catering team or food provider to offer good quality lunch parcels.

You can claim for additional costs incurred when providing locally sourced vouchers to pupils eligible for benefits-related free school meals during the period in which schools were closed to most pupils, up to Friday 5 March. You can also claim for lunch parcels provided during this period and up until the start of the Easter holidays. The claims window for these costs will open in early April and will remain open for at least three weeks. Schools will be able to claim directly, or local authorities and academy trusts can claim on their schools’ behalf. Further details will be shared via the weekly Wednesday newsletter from ESFA.

Claims need to be based on eligible pupils, with support provided over the specified timeframe and to the values specified in the guidance. There are no other criteria that claims will be subject to. All claims made will also be cross-referenced with orders made using the national voucher scheme. Claims should not be made in relation to support provided via the Edenred national voucher scheme, as all those costs have already been met centrally.

Schools do not need to provide lunch parcels or vouchers during the Easter holidays. The government provides support with food and other essentials through the COVID Winter Grant Scheme. This scheme, run by local authorities, has operated successfully since November including over the Christmas and February half term holidays. The scheme ensures that individuals, families and children who require it, including those eligible for free school meals, can receive the support they need.

Further information on the provision of free school meals and the COVID Winter Grant Scheme can be found in our guidance on providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Updated guidance for children’s social care services

We have updated our guidance for children’s social care services to reflect the extension of the asymptomatic testing programme to foster carers and staff of open residential children’s homes.

The information below has not changed since our last update

Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) is available to answer any questions you have 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 6pm  

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

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.

Private, voluntary and independent nurseries do not need a UON.

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:    

guidance for early years and childcare providers

guidance for schools

guidance for special schools and other specialist settings

guidance for further and higher education providers

guidance for local authority children’s services 


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