The chair Jamie Hepburn - Minister for Higher Education (HE), Further Education (FE), Youth Employment and Training - welcomed all to the meeting.
All agreed the minutes for the previous meeting (14 July 2021) are accurate.
Action: previous minutes to be published on the SG 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:
- the absence of an internationally agreed clinical definition of long Covid, as research and ongoing measurement provides an emerging picture of symptoms and how different these are for people
- to consider the particular circumstances of young people and apparent low vaccination rates and reasons for this, for example, access, timing and delay resulting from high rates of associated positive cases
- the work of health boards trying to improve vaccination rates, for example, through drop in clinics, and options for colleges and universities to support this, including the role of the NUS
- whether data exists to show differences in the levels of vaccination take-up for students and the general population within this age cohort
- to consider how self-isolation exemptions for FE and HE can help minimise disruption across these sectors
Action: Eileen agreed to share her slides.
Update on Level 0 Guidance – Will Quinn, ALS Covid Recovery
Guidance format will be short and concise, and will reflect ongoing changes and expert advice.
Next Steps – linked to the Expert Advisory Sub-Group - Craig Robertson, SG Deputy-Director
No written advice at this stage but discussions around self-isolation for close contacts is likely to change.
EAG advice on students not fully protected from the vaccine supports the idea that maintaining the option of institutions offering a mix of learning would be helpful.
Going forward, the immediate priority for the CRG will be on guidance delivery, which covers outbreak management, implementation, compliance, testing and vaccination.
In discussion the following points were made:
- a blended learning approach needs to consider any additional workload pressures for staff, and reduced capacity when colleagues are self-isolating
- the next EAG advice will likely take the form of a verbal report
AOB and end of meeting
The chair brought the meeting to a close.
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