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From Friday 27 August additional support will be deployed to some local authorities in the South West of England including Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local authority areas in response to a rise in COVID-19 cases locally.

Targeted additional support will be provided in response to the growth of COVID-19 cases in the region, while NHS pressures and the number of cases and deaths will be carefully monitored.

The package includes:

logistical support to maximise vaccine and testing uptake

further help for local public health campaigns

temporary use of face coverings in communal areas outside classrooms in secondary schools and colleges

increased surveillance using multiple methods to monitor the situation, methods will include genotype assay testing, genome sequencing and wastewater sampling.

This additional support will be in place for 5 weeks from Friday 27 August to allow for targeted local action. Pupils will return to school from next week as planned.

There are no additional restrictions other than to re-emphasise the national guidance, including to get vaccinated, wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport, meet outdoors where possible, let fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces, and consider minimising the number, proximity and duration of social interactions.

Public Health England data shows that the vaccination programme has substantially weakened the link between cases, hospitalisations and deaths. Vaccinated people are far less likely to get COVID-19 with symptoms and even more unlikely to get serious COVID-19, to be admitted to hospital, or to die from the virus.

UNISON continues to publish all the latest Covid19 advice on the national unison website https://www.unison.org.uk/coronavirus-rights-work/

Lots of you will have been involved in mass testing over the last few days and Plymouth in UNISON has asked that schools take a similarly pro-active approach to testing where there are outbreaks although ultimately it will be test and trace rather than the schools that will decide what pupils need to isolate and for how long

All schools should have Outbreak strategies based on a DfE framework

The key principles set out in the contingency framework are:

  • maximise the number of children in face-to-face education or childcare and minimise any disruption in a way that best manages the COVID-19 risk
  • managing transmission should be weighed against any educational drawbacks
  • measures should affect the minimum number of children for the shortest time
  • attendance restrictions should be considered as a last resort where all other risk mitigations have not broken chains of in-school transmission

The DfE has now defined ‘thresholds’ to indicate that transmission may be occurring within a setting and additional control measures may be needed.

  • 5 cases / 10% of pupils/staff, who are likely to have mixed closely[1], test positive within a 10-day period (mainstream schools);
  • 2 cases who are likely to have mixed closely test positive within a 10-day period (SEND/residential schools or settings with <20);
  • There are any admissions to hospital for COVID-19.

If you are concerned that your school is not taking the measures it should then please inform the Branch

Similarly vulnerable individuals should still be getting individual risk assessments and we may be able to support members who are not happy with or have not had these.


If you are worried about yourself or a colleague, then many employers offer wellbeing programs and if you are not too fed up with everything being online these days you can get useful advice on personal resilience at such places as https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing           and https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/