Official guidance on the NHS test and trace system can be found on the Government NHS test and trace: how it works web page.
The system is based on individuals self-isolating for at least ten days when they have a positive test result. Members of their household also need to self-isolate for ten days or longer if they develop symptoms or test positive themselves.
Individuals with symptoms should call 119 to organise a test or book one through the gov.uk website or via the NHS app. Individuals who test positive using a lateral flow device test at home should also obtain a test.
If the test is positive, self-isolation for the individual and their household continues.
Those testing positive will be asked for details of all those with whom they have been in close contact for a 48-hour period prior to the onset of symptoms or the positive test and subsequently.
‘Close contact’ is defined as:
- having face-to-face contact with someone (less than one metre away);
- spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of someone; and
- travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane.
Contact tracers will specifically ask if someone testing positive works in a school and may refer the case to Public Health England (PHE) and/or to local authority public health officials.
Those in close contact with someone who has tested positive will be asked to self-isolate for ten days.
Those self-isolating will be entitled to SSP.
If a school has been following the DfE’s advice and has set up a robust in-school system to minimise the spread of the virus, then the only individuals who might be asked to self-isolate are those within the positive test’s class group.
However, it is important to note the potential for the involvement of public health authorities in the case of those who attend or work in a school. It is likely that this will be to check how well the measures have been enforced in a school and to take appropriate action if not.
Notification to commence self-isolation may also come via the NHS test and trace app. This notification should be followed.
Advice for members
If you are contacted as part of the track and trace arrangements it is important to be as accurate as possible with the information that you provide.
Issues have been raised in the media about whether track and trace is secure and that it could be used by some to obtain personal details about individuals. Members should satisfy themselves that the contact they receive is genuine.
Whilst the Government guidance states the statutory sick pay is available for those who are self-isolating, the NASUWT would not expect teachers to be put on statutory sick pay.
If you are self-isolating and have no symptoms of Covid-19, you should remain on full pay with the expectation that you will work from home. If, however, you are unwell and cannot work from home, the normal sickness absence arrangements would apply.