Guidance and advice
This government guidance is for parents and carers of children at Primary School
The text below is an extract from the DFE guidance entitled 'What parents and carers need to know about early years provides, schools and colleges in the autumn term. The guidance was reissued on 31/7/20 with some information updated. It is possible that the guidance will be updated again before pupils return to school on 2nd September 2020. Please use the following link to visit the guidance in full: DFE Guidance to Parents
Welcoming children and young people back to school and college
It is the government’s plan that all children and young people, in all year groups, will return to school and college full time from the beginning of the autumn term.
The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased since schools and colleges restricted their opening to most pupils in March, the NHS Test and Trace system is up and running and we understand more about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools. As a result, the government has asked schools and colleges to plan for all children and young people to return from the start of the new academic year.
The scientific evidence shows that coronavirus (COVID-19) presents a much lower risk to children than adults of becoming severely ill, and there is no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults. Of course, there will still be risks while coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in the community, and that is why schools and colleges will be asked to put in place a range of protective measures.
In order to effectively manage the risks that remain, things will be a bit different when children and young people return to school and college for the new academic year. This guidance sets out some of the changes and protective measures the government is asking schools and colleges to put in place and what parents, carers, children and young people will need to do to help ensure schools and colleges are as safe as possible for everyone.
Your child’s school or college will be able to give you more information about the specific measures they have put in place.
School and college attendance
It is vital that children and young people return to school and college - for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development. School and college attendance will again be mandatory from the beginning of the new academic year. For parents and carers of children of compulsory school age, this means that the legal duty on you as a parent to send your child to school regularly will apply.
Where children are not able to attend school as parents are following clinical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.
If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college, because you consider they may have other risk factors, you should discuss with your school or college the measures they are putting in place to reduce risks in line with government guidance.
Many families will want to take a holiday over the summer period, which may involve travelling abroad. As ever, parents should plan their holidays within school and college holidays and avoid seeking permission to take their children out of school during term time.
Ultimately, local authorities and schools have a range of legal powers to enforce attendance if a child or young person misses school without a valid reason.
How everyone can help make schools and colleges as safe as possible
Each school or college will do their own health and safety risk assessment as part of their planning for the autumn term and the return of all pupils.
As part of this, there are certain approaches that the government has asked schools and colleges to implement which are essential to reduce health risks. Parents and carers can support this by:
- ensuring that anyone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or has someone in their household who does, does not attend school or college - this means if your child, or someone in your household, has symptoms you should not send them to school or college
- engaging with the NHS Test and Trace process so that cases can be identified and action taken - this means if your child develops symptoms, you should arrange for them to get a test and you should inform your school or college of the results of that test
Alongside this, the government is asking schools and colleges to ensure they are:
- managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the school or college, in line with current public health guidance - this means your child may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days by their school or college (based on advice from their local health protection teams) if they have been in close, face-to-face contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus
- ensuring everyone at the school or college cleans their hands more often than usual, including when they arrive at school or college, when they return from breaks, and before and after eating - this can be done with soap and running water or hand sanitiser
- ensuring good respiratory hygiene, by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
- enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often
- minimising contact and maintaining distance, as far as possible - schools and colleges will decide how best to do this, as it will be different for each setting, but in broad terms, it will involve asking children to stay within specified separate groups (or bubbles), and through maintaining distance between individuals. The government’s guidance to schools recognises that younger children may not be able to maintain social distancing so it is likely that for younger children the emphasis will be on separating groups, and for older children, it will be on distancing.
It will be really important that parents help schools and colleges to implement these approaches by following the advice set out here and wider public health advice and guidance.
Arriving and leaving school or college
Guidance can be found on 'The School Day' in the right hand menu about arriving and leaving times and procedures.
Where possible, children and young people are encouraged to avoid public transport, particularly at peak times, and to walk or cycle to school or college.
Where your child relies on public transport to get to school or college, and cannot walk or cycle, the safer travel guidance for passengers will apply.
Where your child uses dedicated school or college transport (that is transport that does not cater for the general public), the guidance for public transport will not apply. Your child may be asked to use a regular seating plan on this transport (to reflect where possible the bubbles that are used within school), and measures will be put in place to ensure vehicles are cleaned regularly and boarding is managed.
Face coverings are required at all times on public transport (for children over the age of 11). Where necessary, they may also be appropriate on dedicated school or college transport too (for example, if children are likely to come into very close contact with others outside their year group or who they do not normally meet). If your child has been wearing a face covering before arriving at school or college, it will be important that they understand how to remove it. The government has asked schools to have a process for ensuring face coverings are removed when pupils and staff who use them arrive at school and this should be clearly communicated.
Children and young people must wash their hands immediately on arrival at school or college, dispose of any temporary face coverings they may have been wearing in a covered bin, or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them, and then wash their hands again before heading to their classroom.
Public Health England does not recommend the use of face coverings in schools. They are not required in schools as pupils and staff are mixing in consistent groups, and because misuse may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission.
Curriculum, exams and inspection
The government has set out clear expectations on what schools are expected to teach when pupils return in September. Schools will continue to provide an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects.
There may need to be changes to some subjects - such as PE and music - to ensure they can be delivered as safely as possible.
Schools and colleges will also make plans for the provision of remote education where needed, to ensure that the small number of children and young people that need to be educated at home, for example, due to shielding or self-isolation, are given the support they need to continue learning.
The government has also confirmed that in the autumn term, Ofsted inspectors will visit a sample of schools to discuss how they are supporting pupils back into school. These visits will not result in a graded judgement for the school.
It is intended that routine Ofsted inspections will restart from January 2021, so that parents can have the information and assurances they need and rely on, with the exact timing being kept under review.
Process in the event of outbreaks
If a school or college experiences an outbreak, either because they have 2 or more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) among pupils or staff in their setting within 14 days, or they see an increase in pupil or staff absence rates due to suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), they will need to contact their local health protection team. This team will advise if additional action is required, though the closure of the whole school or college will generally not be necessary.
Where an outbreak in a school is confirmed, a mobile testing unit may be dispatched to test others who may have been in contact with the person who has tested positive. Testing will first focus on the person’s class, followed by their year group, then the whole school, if necessary.
If your local area sees a spike in infection rates that is resulting in localised community spread, decisions will be made on what measures to implement to help contain the spread. The government will be involved in decisions and will support individual schools and colleges to follow the health advice.
In all cases, where groups of pupils need to self-isolate or where a larger restriction of attendance at school or college is needed, your child’s school or college should seek to ensure children and young people’s education can continue remotely