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Back to school information for parents and carers

We are supporting schools, pupils and parents to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Coronavirus symptoms and what to do if you feel unwell

Do not leave your home if you have coronavirus symptoms. These are:

  • a high temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms

If you have any symptoms, get a test as soon as possible. To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home and start self-isolating. Do not have any visitors until you get your result. Anyone you live with must also stay at home until you get your result.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Booking a test

You can book a test online or tel: 119 and you'll be directed to your nearest drive-through or walk-through testing centre.

When not to send your child to school

If your child or someone in your household has one or more symptoms you should not send them to school, nursery or college and they should begin self-isolating for seven days. This includes people within your support bubble if you have one.

Symptoms are a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or a loss or change in sense of smell or taste. Let school, college or nursery know the reason they are off.

You should book a test for the person with symptoms as soon as possible. They should not leave the house, unless to get a test, or have any visitors until you have the results.

If your child or the person with symptoms tests negative, your child or young person can return to school, college or nursery if they feel well enough and have been free of a fever for 48 hours. Coughs and loss of smell or taste may last several weeks if the child had another virus, such as a cold or flu.

If your child or the person with symptoms tests positive they should not leave the house and should self-isolate for at least seven days from when symptoms started, or from the day of the test result if they didn't have symptoms. Your child or young person should not attend school, college or nursery.

If your child tested positive they can return to school, college or nursery when they have completed seven days of self-isolation and if they feel better and have been free of a fever for 48 hours. They can return after seven days even if they have a cough or loss of sense of smell and taste as these symptoms can last for several weeks once the infection is gone.

If the person who tested positive is another member of your household then your child or young person should continue to self-isolate for 10 days - even if they test negative - and should only return to school, college or nursery after this time.

If you or your child live with or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, then you will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • you're fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
  • you're under 18 years and 6 months old
  • you're taking part or have taken part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • you're not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Even if you do not have symptoms, you’re strongly advised to do daily lateral flow tests for seven days and consider limiting contact with people who are at higher risk.

You can find the latest advice on when to self-isolate on the NHS website.

Testing positive for coronavirus

If you child has tested positive for coronavirus you and everyone in your household should isolate, and this means not attending school or work. NHS Test and Trace will notify the school, however if you can also tell the school, this will ensure that they can take any necessary action quickly as there may be a need for rest of the children or young people in the bubble to go home and self-isolate. Your child must continue to self-isolate for the remainder of their seven days isolation. 

If other people in the household are fully vaccinated and it has been 14 days since their second dose, are under 18years and 6 months old, have taken part or are taking part in an approved vaccine trial, or you’re not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons, then you do not need to self-isolate. It’s recommended that you complete daily lateral flow tests for seven days and consider avoiding those who may be more at risk. 

Testing negative for coronavirus

If your child has received a negative test for coronavirus and they feel well, they can return to school.

Symptoms while at school

If your child begins to display coronavirus symptoms at school your school will contact you immediately. Following the schools guidelines for pick-up arrangements, you should collect your child as quickly as possible.

If you have children at other schools let them know so that staff can get them ready to be collected too.

Once you have collected your child or children you should go straight home and follow all the guidelines on self-isolating. It is important that you pick your children up as soon as possible to lower the risk of spread to others and also allows the school time to carry out extra hygiene measures as quickly as possible.

When you get home, you should arrange to have them tested as soon as possible.