Clinically vulnerable staff and pupils (including individuals on the shielding list)
Following consideration by clinicians of the increased risks of transmission of the new strain of coronavirus, new guidance for individuals on the shielding list has been issued for the duration of the lockdown period. This now makes clear that:
- staff at the highest clinical risk (individuals on the shielding list) should work from home, and if they cannot do so, they should not work. A CMO notification issued to affected individuals in week commencing 4 January 2021. This acts as a fit note for as long as these additional measures are in place – initially until the end of January, to be reviewed after two weeks. The CMO letter means that a GP fit note is not required.
- children and young people at the highest clinical risk (individuals on the shielding list) should not attend school in person. Arrangements for learning from home will be put in place for children and young people who cannot attend school or college in person due to shielding requirements. The local education service will provide advice on the support available for children who are being asked not to attend school, college or childcare under additional protective measures
This lockdown advice does not change the existing Level 4 advice, which may replace this exceptional advice following any return to school after lockdown ends.
The arrangements for all other clinically vulnerable school staff and pupils as set out in the reducing risks in schools guidance should be followed. This includes the baseline advice (which applies as standard throughout all levels) and the enhanced protections at Levels 3 and 4. This guidance makes clear that individual risk assessments should be in place for clinically vulnerable staff. Local authorities should ensure that clinical advice is taken fully into account when updating these individual risk assessments and agreeing appropriate mitigations with employees. Updated guidance for pregnant employees is now available and should be followed (note that staff who are both pregnant and on the shielding list should follow the guidance for staff at the highest clinical risk above).
Information on shielding, including who would be considered within the highest risk group, is available in COVID-19: shielding advice and support. Where concerns exist, guidance for people with underlying health conditions has been prepared and will continue to be updated. School staff who have underlying health conditions will wish to be aware of this advice in order to inform discussions with their employer, trade union and/or healthcare team in line with the current guidance on reducing risks in schools.