How the latest Covid-19 restrictions may affect your family
As the UK continues to relax Covid-19 restrictions, we have gathered some of the Government guidance relevant to families with a child with complex needs. Below are some key points from the current restrictions in England, followed by any differences in guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We also have a separate page with information about vaccines, available here>>
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) people
- NHS run services across the UK are functioning and you should seek support for your child’s existing health conditions as you normally would.
- The Government is no longer officially advising CEV people to shield. This means that the same restrictions apply to everyone regardless of whether they are CEV.
- Much of the Government support for CEV people, including priority deliver slots from supermarkets, has stopped.
- In a few rare cases, some children may have been advised to continue shielding by a clinician.
- Although shielding advice is no longer in place, CEV people are encouraged to “consider the risks of close contact with others”, especially in crowded spaces and when Covid-19 disease levels are high in your area.
- All children should have returned to in-person education. This includes most children who were previously shielding.
- A very small number of children will not be able to return to in-person education if they have been specifically advised by their clinician not to.
- Face coverings are no longer requirement for pupils in schools in England. Pupils are advised to wear masks when on buses or other public transport to and from school.
- A range of other infection control measures have been introduced in schools, including rapid testing. All pupils and staff are encouraged to take coronavirus lateral flow tests regularly to help identify anyone who has the virus but is not showing symptoms. Asymptomatic testing at school is voluntary, but taking regular test should help to keep infection rates low.
- Schools have been given advice from DFE on how to help children with SEND carry out lateral flow tests. You should contact your school directly if you have any questions or concerns about testing.
- The advice asking people to work from home where they can is no longer in place.
- The Government stresses that employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees from risks to their health and safety and that “your employer should be able to explain to you the measures they have in place to keep you safe at work”. Read more advice about work for CEV people and their families on the Government website here >>
Latest update – from 19 July:
- As England moves to “step 4” of it’s roadmap out of lockdown, all legal limits on on social contact, the number of people who can meet, and laws requiring people to wear masks and social distance have been dropped.
- Although there is no legal requirement for people to stay two metres apart or wear a mask inside, there are some places where people will be asked to wear a mask, like on public transport in London or in health settings. Some companies may also ask people to wear masks on their premises.
- Whilst legal requirements have been relaxed, the government is still advising people to limit social contact where they can.
The full Government guidance on what people can and cannot do can be found on their website here >>
Differences in Scotland
All regions of Scotland have now moved to Level 0.
The rules at Level 0 in Scotland are stricter than those in England, and include the following:
- up to 8 people from 4 households can meet in your home or theirs.
- up to 10 people from 4 households can meet in an indoor public place like a café, pub or restaurant.
- up to 15 people from 15 households can meet outdoors.
- under 12s do not count towards the total number of people meeting outside or indoors.
- you need to maintain at least 1m distance from other households in all indoor public settings
- face coverings are still mandatory on public transport and in public indoor venues, like shops.
Differences in Wales
Wales moved to alert level 1 restrictions on 17th July. These restrictions are stricter than those in place in England, and include the following:
- You must wear a face covering in all indoor public spaces and on public transport.
- You can form an extended household with two other households, but the households you choose should not change.
- Up to 6 people from different households can meet in indoor public spaces. Your extended household and an additional 5 people from different households can meet indoors in someone’s home.
- You should work from home if you can.
- You should observe social distancing with people outside your household.
The Welsh Government are planning to relax most of these restrictions from 7 August.
For more information about what you can and cannot do, visit the Government website here >>
Differences in Northern Ireland
The Government in Northern Ireland is planning to relax some of its Covid restrictions on 26 July. This means that stricter restrictions remain in place in Northern Ireland in comparison with the rest of the UK. Restrictions include:
- Up to 6 people from 2 households can meet indoors.
- Up to 15 people (including children of all ages) from a maximum of 3 households can meet in a private garden. Up to 30 people can meet in an outdoor public space.
- You can form a bubble with another household. The bubble can be of any size, but indoor meetings between households in a bubble together are limited to a maximum of 10 people.
Support available to families
- You can request volunteer support from NHS Volunteer Responders via an app or by telephone here >>
- NHS Volunteer Responders can provide support by collecting prescriptions, providing transport to appointments, and more.
Children who require aerosol generating procedures (AGP) at school
After campaigning by parents, professionals, WellChild and many other organisations, the Department For Education (DFE) updated and expanded their guidance for children who require AGP in schools. Read the guidance in full here >>
The Department For Education has stated: “It is vital that all children [and] young people […] with complex or additional health needs, are supported to continue their education and care in their education or children’s social care setting, where it is safe to do so.” They say they have adapted the guidance to meet the specific needs of the settings, children and young people involved. They also stress the need for a collaborative approach between “education and children’s social care settings, families and local agencies” to find solutions.
Some key points from the updated guidance:
- Clarification on the procedures classed as AGP. The following procedures are NOT considered AGP:
- oral or nasal suction
- the administration of nebulised saline, medication or drugs
- chest compressions or defibrillation
- chest physiotherapy
- the administration of oxygen therapy
- suctioning as part of a closed system circuit
- nasogastric tube insertion and feeding
- The list of procedures still classed as AGP include:
- non-invasive ventilation (NIV)
- tracheal intubation and extubation
- bi-level positive airway pressure ventilation (BiPAP)
- continuous positive airway pressure ventilation (CPAP)
- respiratory tract suctioning beyond the oro-pharynx
- Read the full list here>>
- Regarding suctioning, a footnote in the guidance states: “only open suctioning beyond the oro-pharynx is currently considered an AGP i.e. oral/pharyngeal suctioning is not an AGP. The evidence on respiratory tract suctioning is currently being reviewed by the AGP Panel […] to review new or further evidence for consideration.”
- Whilst the guidance states that “ideally” children should still be taken to a separate room for AGP, schools that do not have a suitable separate room can now allow AGP to take place in the classroom, providing anyone not involved with the procedure is 2 meters away and there is a window open for ventilation.
- Further information for schools on how to source the PPE their staff need to carry out AGP is available here >>
- The DFE have said “We expect children, young people and learners with complex health needs will be able to return to their education or social care setting without settings needing to make significant changes to their ways of work beyond required adherence to the system of controls”. This further suggests that it is the DFE position that children should no longer be denied access to school because they require AGP.
- Further information on the full list of AGP in all settings can be found here >>
Sources and further reading
The full Government guidance for clinically extremely vulnerable people in England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19
Government guidance for the full opening of special schools: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/send-and-specialist-settings-additional-operational-guidance-coronavirus-covid-19
Department For Education guidance on face coverings in education: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/976213/Face_coverings_in_education_April_2021.pdf
Guidance for rapid testing in Mainstream secondary schools: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-asymptomatic-testing-in-schools-and-colleges/coronavirus-covid-19-asymptomatic-testing-in-schools-and-colleges and SEND schools: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-full-opening-special-schools-and-other-specialist-settings/send-and-specialist-settings-additional-operational-guidance-coronavirus-covid-19
The UK Government’s roadmap out of lockdown: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-response-spring-2021/covid-19-response-spring-2021-summary
Scotland’s restrictions under protection level 3: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-protection-levels/pages/protection-level-3/
The Welsh Government’s Coronavirus guidance: https://gov.wales/current-restrictions-summary
Northern Ireland restrictions: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-what-restrictions-mean-you
If you would like to connect with others facing similar challenges during this time, you can find out more and join the WellChild Family Tree for mutual support and advice here >>
The information on this page is reviewed weekly. Last reviewed 19/07/21
Callum Campbell, WellChild Family Information Officer