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Back to school information for parents and carers

It is understandable that you may be anxious about your child returning to school. We are supporting schools, pupils and parents as they adjust to the 'new normal' way of life in a bid to minimise the spread of coronavirus.

Your school will keep you informed of measures it is taking to keep pupils, staff and families safe and it is important that you follow these.

There are things you can do to help minimise the risk – such as not congregating at the school gates at the beginning and end of the day and keeping your distance from others.

You can also help your school by making sure your contact details are up to date so they can keep in touch with you easily. If you're worried or unsure of what to do if you, your child or a family member falls ill here is some helpful information.

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 10 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 and the rest of the household should self-isolate for 10 days. You 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 10 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 10 days of self-isolation and if they feel better and have been free of a fever for 48 hours. They can return after 10 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.

This information is summarised in the 'COVID-19 (coronavirus) absence: A quick guide for parents and carers' document attached to this page.

Face coverings

Secondary school pupils will have to wear face coverings in school corridors and communal areas if the area they live in is put into local lockdown.

Headteachers will be able to introduce masks in their school if social distancing is difficult to maintain.

Find out more about the government's guidance on face coverings in education.

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 10 days isolation. Anyone else in the household must complete their 10 days of self-isolation.

Testing negative for coronavirus

If your child has received a negative test for coronavirus and they feel well, they can return to school and the rest of the individuals in your household no longer need to self-isolate.

Bubbles at school

A 'bubble' is a way that schools and settings will group students together to help to minimise the contact between students and help to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 within that setting.

If another child in a different bubble to your child has tested positive your child should continue to go to school.

When a positive case is identified, Public Health England Test and Trace will have completed a risk assessment of any close contacts of that positive case and will have advised schools and settings what to do. School will notify you if your child should not go to school.

Outbreaks at school

Schools will be grouping children in bubbles and reinforcing good hygiene measures that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, because COVID-19 is spread around easily, it’s likely that some schools will have more than one child or member of staff that catch the virus at the same time. If more than 2 pupils or staff that have been in close contact and test positive, this is what is called an 'outbreak'. Schools will tell you if this has happened and what you may need to do. Schools are likely to stay open if an 'outbreak' occurs and they will receive support and advice from public health services.

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.