Coronavirus Update – 22nd September 2020

New coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions announced by the Prime Minister

Today, the Prime Minister has announced a series of new coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions that will begin to come into force from Thursday onwards. It is vital that children and young people continue to receive an education, therefore, schools, colleges and universities will remain open.


New advice service for nurseries, schools and colleges to respond to a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last week, Public Health England (PHE) introduced a new dedicated advice service, delivered by NHS Business Services Authority, for nurseries, schools and colleges. The service is for those needing support on the action they should take when they have been informed of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their setting (i.e. a pupil or staff member testing positive).

It can be reached by calling the Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline on 0800 046 8687 and selecting option 1. This option will take you through to a dedicated team of NHS Business Services Authority advisors who will work through a risk assessment with you to identify close contacts, and will inform you what action is needed based on the latest public health advice. Advisors will be responsible for referring more complex cases to the PHE regional health protection team, as necessary, following a triaging of your circumstances during the call.

This new advice service has been introduced following a significant increase in calls to PHE’s regional health protection teams since the start of the new school term. We want to ensure nurseries, schools and colleges have access to the advice they need to make decisions. This dedicated advice service is designed to expand the options available for that support, and we would expect that most education settings would contact this service in the first instance. This approach will free up capacity of PHE’s regional health protection teams to deal with more complex cases, for example special schools and universities, or outbreaks. You should continue to inform your local authority of a positive case in your setting.

We recognise that some local authorities have put more detailed local arrangements in place for education settings with their local authority health protection team. Where those local arrangements are available and working, you can continue to receive support through that route to take action in response to a positive case.

Phone: 0800 046 8687 – option 1

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm


Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline weekend opening hours

The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline remains available to answer questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education and children’s social care. Please listen carefully to the available options and select the most appropriate to your nursery, school, or college’s current situation.

To support the transition back to education, we have extended our opening hours and are now available 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline by calling:

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm


Please keep your GIAS contacts up to date

Please take this opportunity to review all of your contact information in Get Information About Schools (GIAS). Keeping your details up to date will ensure that you continue to receive the most up to date information from the Department for Education and from the Department of Health and Social Care who are providing schools and colleges with coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits.

For academy trusts, this will also ensure compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook.

To update your record, please go to the GIAS home page, “Sign in” using your “DfE Sign-in” credentials and select GIAS from your available services.