Urgent update re managing COVID cases over the Christmas period

Email dated 17.12.2020


Dear Colleagues,

Urgent update re managing COVID cases over the Christmas period.

We appreciate how hard everyone has worked this year and how much you and your teams need a proper break over Christmas. We are also aware however, of the continued risk of increasing COVID infections over the break when restrictions are eased for the Christmas period. The essential data that you hold regarding the children and staff attending each day would need to be referenced to enable track and trace should there be a positive case among your children or staff.

The DfE and Public Health England are needing to ask for your continued help to ensure that key contacts are notified should you be informed of a confirmed case in the first few days of your settings Christmas break. We understand that the timing of this communication is not ideal and appreciate your understanding and resilience in these unprecedented times.

The notification from the DfE states:

  • ‘We know that school and further education leaders, teachers and staff, as well as nurseries and childminders, have worked tirelessly over the last term. This has included their important role in contact tracing, to help in the national effort to limit the spread of the virus. We are aware that this has led to additional work over weekends and holidays and we are incredibly grateful for this.
  • ‘We recognise the challenges of this responsibility at the end of term. PHE has agreed a six day window after the final day of teaching in which schools and further education providers (as well as nurseries and childminders) are asked to remain contactable so they can assist with contact tracing where necessary. This will allow enough time for positive coronavirus (Covid-19) cases to be identified and confirmed by a test and for relevant contacts in the education setting to be traced.’
  • ‘This means settings will need to think about what happens if a child or staff member tests positive in the days after they close for the holidays. They may need a way for parents to notify them as well as staff. Someone within the setting will also need to have relevant information to hand, like public health contacts, as well as bubble or group configurations from the days before they closed. People will be hoping for the best over the holiday period but they should be prepared for the possibility of positive cases.’

What does this mean for your setting?

Parents will need to be given an emergency contact number or email address that they can use to notify your setting that their child has had a positive test result. Staff will also need this number in case they need to report a positive test. The contact person in your setting will need to have access to information regarding attendance of both children and staff and the contact details so that relevant groups can be notified and advised to isolate for 10 days.

The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline and PHE advice service are available to support with any queries you have about positive cases in your setting. Department for Education (DfE) advice line – 0800 046 8687.

If you are notified of a positive case during the Christmas period you will need to:

  • Notify close contacts, both staff and children and advise them to isolate for 10 days
  • Complete the attached form and send to  ph.healthprotection@bristol.gov.uk  The Public Health duty desk will be available to support you everyday during the holidays, including bank holidays. Please request a call back, if needed,  to access further direct support from Public Health.

Term time only settings

For the first 6 days after the end of term (up until Thursday 24th December), settings are asked to monitor the emergency contact but there is no need to be on-call at all times. The critical period is the first 48 hours after your setting closes and the likelihood of parents/staff contacting you will decrease as you progress through these 6 days. The member of staff responsible for contact tracing may wish to identify and share with parents, a limited period in the day to receive notification of positive cases and advise close contacts to self-isolate (this can be done by text or email).

All Year Round Settings

Normal procedures will continue throughout this period, to include:

  • providing a contact route for staff and parents/carers
  • undertaking contact tracing and seeking advice from the DfE, if needed
  • completion of the attached reporting from to be returned to ph.healthprotection@bristol.gov.uk 

All settings:

Children and staff returning after the break:

Unfortunately due to the relaxation of restrictions over Christmas it is very possible that we will see an increase in COVID infections in Bristol and it will be important to make sure your families are aware of the expectations when their child returns to your setting.

It is important that children do not start back at your setting if they:

  • Have any symptoms of COVID – new cough, temperature or loss of taste or smell (until 10 days after symptoms have started)
  • Live with someone who has COVID symptoms ( until 10 days self-isolation has been completed)
  • Have been told to self-isolate by National Test and Trace (until the date they say self-isolation ends and they can return)


We thank you for your support and acknowledge the critical role that settings are playing in helping to limit the spread of the virus.

Best wishes and take care,

The Early Years Team


Deborah Brown - (General Enquries)
Dawn Butler - (General Enquiries)
Nicola Theobald - (General and Nursery School Enquiries)