NHS Test and Trace App

A small number of schools have told staff to turn the NHS app off the whole time when they are in schools. This is wrong – Department for Education guidance is clear: pausing contact tracing in schools is only recommended in 3 situations:

  • when an individual is not able to have their phone with them, for example because it is stored in a locker or communal area – this is to avoid the app picking up contacts when the individual is not with their phone
  • when an individual is working behind a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, fully protected from other colleagues and members of the public, as the individual is considered to be adequately protected from contracting coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • in a health or care setting where staff are wearing medical grade PPE (for example, a surgical mask) as these individuals are also considered to be adequately protected

Where mobile phones are allowed to be on and with the student at all times, it is recommended that contact tracing is left on by students, to be consistent with general guidance on the use of the app.

There are still likely to be times when students and staff are not near their phones, such as during physical education or in some work placements in FE.

In these situations, contact tracing should be switched off, and settings might want to issue reminders to pause contact tracing for these sessions and turn it back on afterwards.

Where mobile phones are required to be left in lockers or bags in communal areas at all times. It is recommended that settings advise or require students to pause contact tracing whilst on the premises under these circumstances, to avoid the app misidentifying close contacts. When someone switches it off, the app will give the user the option to set a reminder for 4, 8 or 12 hours, after which they will receive a notification to remind them to switch contact tracing back.

We will issue further updates but please do check the NEU website www.neu.org.uk/coronavirus and contact us if you have any concerns about any aspect of this situation.