Covid-19 Briefing (17 December 2021)

Last Edited: Friday, 17 December, 2021 08:01 PM

Information is correct at date of publication:
Due to the developing situation nationally with the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the information included in this briefing can be subject to rapid change. We will continue to provide the most up-to-date information possible to pupils, parents and carers as we get it.

Stay Vigilant

We ask that all pupils, parents and carers continue to keep a high level of vigilance for COVID-19 symptoms and respond quickly to concerns.

With a few days of term left before the holidays, it is a critical time to make sure that anyone with recent COVID-19 symptoms or receiving a positive LFD test isolate immediately and seek a PCR test by calling 01851 601151 or by e-mailing wi.covid19queries@nhs.scot.

Please follow all the latest public health advice 

  • Get vaccinated or seek your booster (if eligible)
  • Wear a face covering wherever it’s required
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Cover nose and mouth if coughing/sneezing
  • Open windows when meeting people indoors
  • Follow national advice about limiting the size of gatherings
  • If you have symptoms, act quickly. Isolate and seek a test.

School Holiday Contact Tracing

Schools and nurseries will close for the holidays on Tuesday 21st December and are expected to re-open on Thursday 6th January 2022.

Our staff teams will continue to work with the NHS Health Protection Team to support the completion of Test & Protect contact tracing during the holidays. This will involve checking on the contacts of positive cases where their infectious period includes time at school before the end of term. Parents and families may be contacted by NHS or education staff if high-risk close contacts are identified in this process.

Updated National Guidance

Today, the Scottish Government published updated guidance on reducing risks in schools and it makes a number of changes to the safe operation of schools, including the following:

  • Reintroduction of pupil bubbles
  • Avoidance of large gatherings of pupils
  • Increased restrictions on visitors to schools
  • Further guidance on ventilation and air quality
  • Promotion of LFD Testing
  • Updated contact-tracing advice in relation to household isolation.

Schools will be updating their COVID-19 risk assessments to take account of this updated advice ahead of next week.

Check Online Access

Schools and nurseries expect to open fully on 6th January but schools are also preparing for the possibility of different degrees of disruption that may happen at the start of the new term.

Schools are currently working to make sure that pupils from P4 upwards can access their Glow accounts and that all other digital and online resources that schools use are accessible by all.

The majority of primary schools now use SeeSaw as a communication and information-sharing tool with parents, carers and families. If your school uses Seesaw and you are experiencing any difficulty with access, please contact your school office.

Household Isolation Rules

Please note that, from 11th December 2021, the rules about self-isolation changed. From this date, all household contacts of a positive case of COVID-19 are required to self-isolate for 10 days irrespective of vaccination status or negative PCR test results.

Children in households where there is a positive case of COVID-19 identified since 11th December must self-isolate and cannot attend school. We ask for the full co-operation of parents and carers in following this important public health advice.

LFD Testing Before Return to School

We ask that all secondary pupils enrolled in the LFD testing scheme begin to take tests again in the week before schools are due to return on 6th January.

  • Please take at least two tests several days apart before returning.
  • One of the tests should be on the evening before or the morning of return to school.
  • Record your results on the online portal (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)
  • Continue to take regular LFD tests throughout the term, at least twice a week.
  • If you receive a positive test result, report it online and you will be contacted by the NHS Test & Protect team.

We strongly encourage the use of LFD testing for all pupils where parents and carers feel it’s appropriate to use them. You can get LFD test kits from your local chemist or online (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) 

Thank You & Season's Greetings

As 2021 draws to a close and we reflect on another challenging and difficult year for our community, we would like to express our thanks to all children, parents, carers and families across the Western Isles for your support and understanding as we all worked to keep schools operating as safely as possible. We are mindful of the impact COVID-19 has had on many of our children and families this year, with local cases this term being higher than at any other time in the pandemic.

Finally, on behalf of all our school staff and the whole team at the Education, Skills and Children’s Services Department, we would like to wish you all a restful holiday and provide our very best wishes for the festive season and the new year ahead.

Schools are expected to re-open for all pupils on Thursday 6th January 2022.