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COVID-19 - Information for Parents

COVID-19: Safety at schools, special schools and colleges

All children and students returned to school and college on the 8 March. After this date, all secondary school pupils and college students have been offered symptom-free testing and those who consent to testing will be given non symptomatic tests to do at home. Students are asked to test every 3-4 days and to test the night before they return to school/college. 

Please see the COVID-19 - Testing for secondary school and college students page for further details about the testing programme for secondary school and college pupils. 

 

What schools are doing to keep your child safe

Schools will continue to use protective bubbles to help manage risk. A bubble is a group of pupils who spend their day together, often with the same small group of staff. Children in the bubble will share breaks and lunchtimes.

As well as bubbles, schools will use a range of measures:

  • Social distancing wherever possible
  • Lateral flow device testing
  • Face coverings inside, unless exempt (younger children attending nurseries, childminders and primary schools do not need to wear a face covering).
  • Staggered start and finish times help with the flow of pupils
  • Management of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the setting, in line with current public health guidance, and minimise contact with anyone who is required to self-isolate
  • Strict adherence to good hand hygiene throughout the day: ensuring that everyone washes their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and running water or hand sanitiser more often than usual including when they arrive, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating
  • Encouraging the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, to ensure good respiratory hygiene
  • Enhanced cleaning and ventilation, including opening windows and cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often.

You must make sure your child attends school unless they have tested positive, are showing symptoms or are shielding. Schools will record attendance and follow up on absences.

Face coverings in schools

Secondary schools and colleges 

  • Face coverings should continue to be worn by adults and pupils inside secondary schools and colleges after Easter. This may be reviewed in step 3 of the government’s roadmap.
  • Secondary school pupils and college students will be required to wear a face covering (unless they are exempt) in classrooms and during most activities, unless it is possible to socially distance. They should also wear one when they are moving around inside school buildings, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult. 
  • This will not apply if a face covering makes it difficult to take part in exercise, for example PE lessons. Face coverings do not need to be worn when outdoors on the premises. 

Primary schools, nurseries and childminders 

  • Younger children attending nurseries, childminders and primary schools do not need to wear a face covering. 
  • Adults (including staff and visitors) should wear face coverings in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible. Schools will ask visitors to wear face coverings before coming on site. 
  • Face coverings must be worn correctly. Schools and colleges will let you and your child know their process for making sure face coverings are put on, removed, stored and disposed of properly. 

Read more from the Department of Education on face coverings in education settings

Transport and travelling to school

Getting to school

There could be heavy traffic on the way to schools and outside school gates. We’re asking parents and pupils to think about the ways they travel. You can try alternatives to driving, such as cycling or walking, that help reduce traffic and can be good for your health.

If you do need to drive, then you should park a short distance away from the school. This will help you to avoid the worst traffic and reduce congestion around the school.

Sharing school journeys

You should avoid car sharing with anyone outside your household or support bubble, in line with government guidance

Travelling to school on public transport

Where possible, children and young people are being encouraged to walk or cycle to school. This remains the safest way to get to school. It may also be possible for some families to drive their children to and from school in their own cars, but we would ask you to park safely with consideration for the school community and local residents.

Where it is not possible for your child to use any of these ways to travel to school, many schools will have staggered their start and finish times so that the build-up of pupils on public transport during peak times can be reduced. Your child’s school will let you know of any relevant changes.

Face coverings are required at all times on public transport except for children under the age of 11.

Read the government’s (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Travelling to school on dedicated school transport

Local authorities, schools and transport providers will do all that is reasonably possible to maximise social distancing where possible and minimise the risk of transmission. The schools will be in direct communication regarding transport arrangements with those affected. 

Who to speak to

If you have concerns about your child attending school or any other education setting, you should speak to your school directly.

Keeping safe at school ― general information 

We know some parents may be feeling anxious about their children being at school or college during COVID-19. If you have concerns about your child attending school or college, you should discuss these with the school or college. They will be able to explain to you the specific measures in place to reduce risks. A number of safety measures are also outlined above.

To find out more, read the government guidance for parents and carers, students and university students, teachers and educational setting leaders