Public Health update: reporting confirmed cases in schools - December 2020

We want to take this opportunity to thank all educational settings for their prompt communication with the Waltham Forest Public Health team. The information you provide is vital for the local authority to monitor the number of children and staff affected by COVID19 and the wider impact on the school community due to self-isolation.

By way of a reminder, when you are notified about a positive COVID19 result among a staff member or pupil, please take the following steps:

1. Many schools have managed multiple cases of COVID19 now and are familiar with the guidance. Where you feel confident in implementing the guidance yourself, follow the steps set out in the Public Health England London Coronavirus Response Centre (PHE LCRC) school resource pack.

2. If you need advice on implementing the above, please contact the Department for Education (DfE) helpline on 0800 046 8687. The DfE helpline is open 8am-6pm M-F and 10am-6pm at the weekend. Please note, that there is no requirement for you to contact or notify DfE.

3. Please always notify the Waltham Forest Public Health by emailing As well as collating the information for the borough, the Waltham Forest Public Health team is here to provide further support and to offer assurance around the steps being taken in response to a confirmed case. This email address is monitored 7 days a week.

For each confirmed case that you are notifying to the Waltham Forest Public Health team, please provide the information in the notification form.

We may then contact you with a follow up email or telephone call to confirm the below, to discuss the broader situation at the school if you have had other cases in the previous 14 days, and to respond to any specific queries you may have.

Guidance to schools and settings on calculating periods of infectiousness and self-isolation

The Waltham Forest Public Health team is aware that there has been some confusion as to the method for calculating the periods of infectiousness and self-isolation. We want to take this opportunity to confirm the guidance. This has been verified by Public Health England LCRC. 

1. Calculating the period of infectiousness

The start of the period of infectiousness (i.e. the time from which a person with confirmed coronavirus is considered to be able to pass the infection to others) is 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms / or 48 hours prior to the COVID19 test if they did not have symptoms. You may previously have been advised that this should be calculated as the exact 48 hours prior to symptoms starting / time of the test.  The guidance we have received from Public Health England is that for simplicity, this will now be moving to 2 full days prior to the onset of symptoms / test, rather than the precise 48 hours. Guide to calculate self isolating period. 

2. Calculating the period of self-isolation

Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus must self-isolate for 10 days from the start of their symptoms / or from their test date if they had no symptoms. The day that the individual developed symptoms / had a test if asymptomatic and the first day of the self-isolation period is day one of the 10 days.

Anyone who is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus in a school setting must self-isolate for 14 days from the point of their last contact. The day that the individual last had contact with the confirmed case and the first day of the self-isolation period is day one of the 14 days. (Please see table in this document).

The PHE LCRC resource pack is being updated to reflect this and we will recirculate it to you as soon as we receive it.