The government's Schools Covid-19 Operational Guidance (September 2021) states that schools should, "deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all pupils. The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health."
There are significant changes to the guidance that schools now operate under, so it is important to read the information below.
IF YOUR CHILD HAS SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
If your child shows any signs of Covid-19 (new, continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change of smell or taste) they should not attend school and you should arrange for a PCR test. Lateral Flow Tests are not designed to be used on children. Your child should remain off school until the test result is known.
If your child tests positive, NHS Test and Trace will work with parents to identify close contacts. Contacts from a school setting will only be traced by NHS Test and Trace where the positive case and/or their parent specifically identifies the individual as being a close contact. This is likely to be a small number of individuals who would be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of the close contact.
Schools will not now be asked to provide contacts to help with identifying close contacts, as currently happens in managing other infectious diseases. Schools are no longer required to operate in bubbles, so there will be no requirement for whole classes or groups of children to self isolate if a child or member of staff is positive.
IF YOU LIVE WITH SOMEONE WHO HAS TESTED POSITIVE
Individuals are NOT required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
- they are fully vaccinated
- they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
- they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons
Close contacts of someone who has tested positive (including family members), will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test. We would encourage all individuals to take a PCR test if advised to do so.
Staff who do not need to isolate, and children and young people aged under 18 years 6 months who usually attend school, and have been identified as a close contact, should continue to attend school as normal. They do not need to wear a face covering within the school.
Schools will continue to have a role in working with health protection teams in the case of a local outbreak. If there is a substantial increase in the number of positive cases in a setting, or if central government offers the area an enhanced response package, a director of public health might advise a setting to temporarily reintroduce some control measures. This is set out in the Covid-19 Outbreak Management Plan.
Follow this advice if your child does not have coronavirus symptoms or they had a test and it was negative (they do not have coronavirus). This information is taken from the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/is-my-child-too-ill-for-school/
Coughs and colds
Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues and to wash their hands regularly.
If your child has a high temperature, keep them off school until it goes away.
If your child has chickenpox, keep them off school until all the spots have crusted over.
This is usually about 5 days after the spots first appeared.
There's no need to keep your child off school if they have a cold sore.
Encourage them not to touch the blister or kiss anyone while they have the cold sore, or to share things like cups and towels.
You don't need to keep your child away from school if they have conjunctivitis.
Do get advice from your pharmacist. Encourage your child not to rub their eyes and to wash their hands regularly.
If your child has an ear infection and a high temperature or severe earache, keep them off school until they're feeling better or their high temperature goes away.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
If your child has hand, foot and mouth disease but seems well enough to go to school, there's no need to keep them off.
Encourage your child to throw away any used tissues straight away and to wash their hands regularly.
Head lice and nits
There's no need to keep your child off school if they have head lice.
You can treat head lice and nits without seeing a GP.
If your child has impetigo, they'll need treatment from a GP, often with antibiotics.
Keep them off school until all the sores have crusted over and healed, or for 48 hours after they start antibiotic treatment.
Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly and not to share things like towels and cups with other children at school.
If your child has ringworm, see your pharmacist unless it's on their scalp, in which case you should see a GP.
It's fine for your child to go to school once they have started treatment.
If your child has scarlet fever, they'll need treatment with antibiotics from a GP. Otherwise they'll be infectious for 2 to 3 weeks.
Your child can go back to school 24 hours after starting antibiotics.
Slapped cheek syndrome (fifth disease)
You don't need to keep your child off school if they have slapped cheek syndrome, because once the rash appears, they're no longer infectious.
If you suspect your child has slapped cheek syndrome, take them to see a GP and let their school know if they're diagnosed with it.
You can still send your child to school if they have a sore throat. But if they also have a high temperature, they should stay at home until it goes away.
A sore throat and a high temperature can be symptoms of tonsillitis.
You don't need to keep your child off school if they have threadworms.
Speak to your pharmacist, who can recommend a treatment.
Vomiting and diarrhoea
Children with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from school for 2 days after their symptoms have gone. This is 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.