The chair (Jamie Hepburn - Minister for HE, FE, Youth Employment and Training) welcomed all to the meeting.
All agreed the minutes for the previous meeting are accurate and to be published on the Scottish Government website.
- Public Health Context (update): Eileen Scott, Education Recovery and COVID-19 Vaccination Surveillance, Public Health Scotland.
- COVID-19 modelling and projections (update): Mel Giarchi, Deputy Head, SG COVID-19 Analysis Division.
Taken together, the presentations provided a high level summary on ‘modelling the epidemic’ and an update on the ‘public health context’. In discussion, the following points were covered:
- to consider broadening our data reporting in line with the Schools Group, where, e.g., outbreak, attendance, and local authority data is considered
- reflecting on current plans to double vaccinate all 18-29 year olds by end of September (if uptake is 100%)
- to consider the impact of forthcoming JCVI advice on vaccination for under 18 year olds
- to consider virus transmission between young people and adults working in youth work activity setting, and engaging in research work on this
- how to utilise data to improve our levels of confidence that young people are registering for the vaccine
- how to provide more certainty of the length of time the uptick in cases will last, vaccination uptake and levels of testing
- PHS to consider including data on Lateral Flow Tests and disaggregated data on vaccination rates for 18-29 year olds for the next meeting
Report on task & finish groups – Craig Robertson, SG deputy director
A summary of progress on the preparation of the guidance and an outline of next steps for this work included:
- setting the context for these discussions and reminding the group that Beyond Level Zero is not how things were pre-COVID-19
- highlighting the focus of discussion, for example where draft guidance has evolved to include something specific to ventilation
- recognition that CRG -Task and Finish groups are instrumental in the preparation of workable guidance, and emphasising the collaborative nature of this work
- that draft guidance will evolve further to ensure a balance is reached on operational and suitable public health measures
- to note that guidance preparation is also driven to give certainty to the sector for the start of the new academic year if we are Beyond Level 0
In discussion, the following points were covered:
- that messaging on lifting restrictions as the direction of travel and our desire to work through the pandemic, in the context of rising cases, can be challenging for guidance
- the issue of a potential staggered return of students to in-person learning when some of the younger student population haven’t been vaccinated
- the view that a delay to the start of term may be detrimental to current planning for institutions, and possible negative impacts on learning and mental health
- the view that guidance is mindful of the crossover between college and school environments
- the idea that whilst guidance should be broad and consistent, there is a clear underpinning that allows local mechanisms to operate
- that preparation of guidance promotes a collegiate sectoral approach, and the need to continue to work together in this way for its implementation
- reinforcement of the view that having the right mitigations helps prevent the spread of the virus, and not solely relying on vaccination when we know that the virus can change
- the Chair emphasised the need to work quickly on the preparation of guidance and the benefits of the joint working arrangements for doing this
- the Scottish Government will consider all comments provided to date and redrafted guidance will then be circulated to CRG members before going to Ministers for clearance
Next steps – linked to EAG sub group, Craig Robertson, SG deputy director
we will shortly circulate an addendum to the Expert Advisory Groups advice on ‘Beyond Level 0’ and new draft advice for the blended learning model currently in place for levels 0-2
AOB and end of meeting
The Chair brought the meeting to a close.
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