Schools (COVID-19 information)

Updated 30.03.21 @ 13:20

National restrictions apply. More information.

Attendance at school, colleges and clubs

From the 8th March 2021, all children and students should return to school and college. All primary school pupils should attend school from this date. All secondary school pupils and college students will be offered testing from 8th March 2021 and those who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. This means there may be a phased return process at the majority of secondary schools and colleges. Please see the Schools Testing section for further details about the testing programme for secondary school and college pupils.

If you or your child (if they are aged over 18) do not consent, they will not be stopped from going back and will return in line with their school or college’s arrangements. Testing is voluntary and your child will not be tested unless they (if they are aged over 18) or you (or another parent/carer) have given informed consent. We strongly encourage you and your child to take part, to help us break chains of transmission and manage the virus.

We know some parents may be feeling anxious about their children returning to school or college. If you have concerns about your child attending school or college, you should discuss these with your school or college. They should be able to explain ways they are changing things to reduce risks.

Further information on the Government’s plans is available here.

Attendance at clubs

From 8th March 2021, out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers will be able to offer indoor and outdoor provision to all children. However, parents and carers will only be able to access settings for certain essential purposes. These are:

  • vulnerable children and young people
  • other children, where the provision is:
    • reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need, or attend a support group
    • being used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education
    • for the purposes of obtaining a regulated qualification, meeting the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments

From the 29th March 2021, out-of-school settings and wraparound providers will be able to offer:

  • outdoor provision to all children, without restrictions on the purpose for which they may attend
  • indoor provision to:
    • vulnerable children and young people
    • children on free school meals, where they are attending as part of the Department for Education’s holiday activities and food programme
    • other children, where the provision is:
      • reasonably necessary to enable their parents and carers to work, search for work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need
      • being used by electively home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education
      • for the purposes of obtaining a regulated qualification, meeting the entry requirements for an education institution, or to undertake exams and assessments

From 12th April 2021, out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers will be able offer provision to all children as normal. However, this is subject to confirmation by the government.

Please try to follow the following guidance when sending your child to an out-of-school setting or a wraparound childcare provider:

  • ensure the provider has coronavirus (COVID-19) protective measures in place
  • limiting the number of settings your child attends, ideally using one out-of-school setting in addition to school where possible
  • working with providers to ensure your child is grouped with children from their same school day bubble, and where this is not possible ensuring they are grouped with other children from their school or with any siblings from the same household
  • taking practical steps to reduce the risk of your child coming in close contact with someone who has the virus, such as encouraging your child to walk or cycle to the setting, or having them dropped off by a member of your household in your private car rather than taking public transport
  • discouraging your child from mixing with different peer groups outside of the specific activity or group setting

Further information is available here.

Testing and self-isolating

Testing for pupils

All secondary school and college pupils are given home test kits and will be asked to regularly test themselves twice a week at home and report results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as their school or college. The home test kits will include instructions for testing and reporting results. Schools and colleges will retain their own small testing sites so that pupils who are unable to test themselves at home can still participate.

If your child is aged 11 and attending a secondary school, you or another adult should conduct the test. If your child is aged 12 to 17 they will need adult supervision to self-test and report. You or another adult may conduct the test if necessary. Students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed.

The government is not asking for primary school pupils to be tested at this time.

Results

If your child tests positive, they will need to:

  • self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance (if they test positive at school, you should arrange for them to be collected)
  • have a further test (a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test) to confirm the result. You can arrange a test on GOV.UK

Testing is voluntary and your child will not be tested unless they (if they are aged over 18) or you (or another parent/carer) have given informed consent. We strongly encourage you and your child to take part, to help us break chains of transmission and manage the virus. Your child will not be stopped from returning to school or college if you or they choose not to be tested, and will return to face-to-face education in line with their school or college’s arrangements.

Anyone with symptoms, whether they are involved in this programme or not, should book a free NHS PCR test via GOV.UK and follow government self-isolation guidance until the results of their test are known. If you have any questions about the asymptomatic testing programme please speak to your school or college.

Testing for households and bubbles of nursery, school, college pupils and staff

The following people can have access to regular rapid lateral flow testing once nurseries, schools and colleges reopen:

  • Nursery, primary school, secondary school and college staff
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of nursery, primary, secondary and college pupils
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of nursery, primary, secondary and college staff

These tests are designed for people without symptoms. If you have Covid-19 symptoms please book a PCR test here.

Nursery, primary school, secondary school and college staff

Teaching and non-teaching staff of nurseries, primary schools, secondary schools and colleges should take twice-weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their place of work. This includes permanent, temporary and voluntary staff.

Your nursery/school/college will give you further details about this.

Members of households, childcare or support bubbles of nursery, school and college staff and pupils

If you’re a member of a household, childcare bubble or support bubble of staff or a pupil you can get a twice-weekly test:

  • through your employer if they offer testing to employees
  • at a local test site
  • by collecting a home test kit from a test site
  • by ordering a home test kit online

Get a test through your employer

Your workplace may offer rapid lateral flow testing to you. Contact your employer to find out more.

Take a test at a rapid lateral flow test site

You can take a rapid lateral flow test at a local site. Testing at these sites is assisted, which means you will swab yourself under the supervision of a trained operator. You may need to book an appointment.

Find your nearest rapid lateral flow test site.

Collect test kits

You can collect up to 2 home test kits at a local collection point. Each kit contains 7 tests.

Anyone 18 or over can collect. You can check online if the location is busy before you go.

Find your nearest home test kit collection point.

Order home test kits online

If you cannot get tested at your workplace, or are unable to go to a test site or collect test kits, you can order a home test kit online.

Do not order online if you can get a test through other methods. This frees up home delivery for those who need it most.

Order rapid lateral flow home test kits

Results

You will be asked to:

  • take a test twice a week (every 3 or 4 days apart)
  • report every result to NHS Test and Trace on the same day you take the test

Report your test result online or by calling 119.

If anyone tests positive or gets coronavirus symptoms, they should tell the school and:

Please note that lateral flow testing is not required within 90 days of a positive result. Individuals and workplaces who choose to continue lateral flow testing within 90 days of a positive test can still access support from the Council’s Public Health and Outbreak Management teams (BWDCOVID19@blackburn.gov.uk)

Transport

Colleges, primary and secondary schools remain open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until 8th March 2021. For those children still attending schools, the schools will be in touch directly regarding transport arrangements.

From the 8th March 2021 the Government advise the following:

Sharing school journeys

Please try not to share a car with anyone who is outside of your household or social bubble as per government guidance. Further information.

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.

Travelling to school on dedicated school transport

Local authorities, schools and transport providers will do all that is reasonably practicable to maximise social distancing where possible and minimise the risk of transmission. The schools will be in touch directly regarding transport arrangements.

Face coverings

Travelling to school on public transport

Face coverings are required at all times on public transport except for children under the age of 11 or those children with an exemption.

School grounds

Your child’s school will provide further information on arrangements within school grounds.

Face coverings inside school premises

In schools and colleges where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by everyone (unless exempt) when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

In those schools and in colleges, we now also recommend that face coverings should be worn in classrooms and during activities, unless social distancing can be maintained. This won’t apply in situations where a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example PE lessons. The wearing of face coverings in classrooms is being introduced for a limited time until Easter. It will be kept under review and our guidance will be updated at that point. This does not apply to younger children in nurseries, childminders and primary schools.

In colleges, students may also be asked to wear face coverings where:

  • the teaching setting is more similar to, or is, a workplace environment
  • it is a requirement in the workplace or indoor environment and students are likely to come into contact with other members of the public

It is really important that face coverings are 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.

Some pupils, students and adults may be exempt from wearing face coverings. These exemptions will apply in early years, schools and colleges, so any requirement to wear a face covering does not apply to someone who:

  • cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical impairment or disability, illness or mental health difficulties
  • is with a person who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate.

In school

If another child in the same class tests positive for COVID-19

If your child has been in close contact during the previous 48 hours with the child who has tested positive, you will either be informed by your child’s school that your child must stay at home (self-isolate) for 10 days, or you will be contacted by someone from the NHS Test and Trace service who will talk you through any actions you need to take. Find out more information on testing and tracing.

If there are COVID-19 cases at my child’s school

If a school has a confirmed COVID-19 case among pupils or staff or if they see an increase in pupil or staff absence due to suspected COVID-19, they will contact the local health protection team. This team will advise the school if additional action is needed, but it is unlikely that the whole school will need to be closed.

Pupil and family wellbeing

Childcare bubbles

You can form a support bubble with another household if any of the following apply to you:

  • you are the only adult in your household (any other members of the household having been under 18 on 12 June 2020) or are the only adult who does not have a disability that needs continuous care
  • you have a child under 1
  • you live with a child under 5 with a disability that needs continuous care.

You may change your support bubble provided that:

  • your household, or the one you intend to form a new support bubble with, meets at least one of the criteria under ‘Who can make a support bubble’
  • the other household is not already part of a support bubble which they intend to remain a part of

If you decide to change your support bubble, you should treat your previous bubble as a separate household for 10 days before forming a new bubble.

Playdates and parties should not be taking place.

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies, including those living outside of the region.

Someone in our household has COVID-19 symptoms; what should we do?

COVID-19 symptoms include a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss or change of taste or smell. If your child or anyone in their household develops symptoms, it is essential you isolate immediately, get tested and inform the school, so they can take necessary steps. Do not send your child to school or to any out of school setting/club whilst you are waiting for the results. COVID-19 tests are available online or by calling 119. Find out more information on testing and tracing.

Foreign travel

If your child has arrived in the UK from travelling abroad, they may need to quarantine or self-isolate for ten days after their return to the UK. Please check the latest international travel advice before you travel.

Resources

Statement by the Chief Medical Officer regarding return to school

Returning to school in September 2020. A letter to parents.

School transport guidance and guidelines.

Children can carry this letter if they want to show they are exempt from wearing a face covering, either for a medical or personal reason.