Schools (COVID-19 information)

Updated 23.09.20

We have put together a list of answers to common questions for parents, carers and families. Please note that, unless instructed by the Government, decisions on school closures are made by the school head teacher, based on an assessment of risk to pupils and staff.

Please check back to this website for regular updates.

Please contact your child’s school if you have specific questions about their arrangements.

Testing and self-isolating

We have produced a quick guide for parents/carers of school children.

Please see our Get Tested section of the website for further details.

Attendance at school and clubs

School attendance

Full-time school attendance is compulsory for all children since the start of term in September. The Government announced on 29th June 2020 that parents would face fines for their children’s non-attendance in September. If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college, because you consider they may have other risk factors, you should discuss them with the school.

Breakfast clubs and after-school clubs

Please get in touch with your school directly for information on their before and after school clubs. Please note that if your child has been told to self-isolate they should not attend any out of school setting.

Transport

I share school drop-off and pick-up journeys with another household. Can I still do this?

If you live in one of the eight wards in the borough that is subject to targeted interventions then please do not share a car with anyone outside of your household. Further information is available here.

If you live in a ward that is not subject to targeted interventions then please try not to share a car with anyone who is outside of your household or social bubble as per government guidance. Further information is available here.

My child uses dedicated school transport to get to school. Will this be safe?

Schools are working with transport providers to put in place safety measures on dedicated school transport to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Your child’s school will communicate these arrangements to you before the beginning of the autumn term.

Can my child pay with cash for their school transport?

We are working with schools and operators to move towards a cashless payment system on school buses. Please see our school transport information.

My child uses public transport to get to school. Will this be safe?

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. All schools will also have a process for removing face coverings when pupils and staff who use them arrive at school.

Face coverings

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

Will my child have to wear a face covering in school?

Children in secondary schools in Blackburn with Darwen are being advised to wear a face covering in communal areas and corridors where it may be difficult to maintain social distancing. Children should wash their hands or use alcohol gel before and after touching the face covering and store in a plastic bag when not in use. Children will not be required to wear a face covering whilst in the classroom.

Children in primary school are not required to use a face covering.

Children who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability will be exempt.

I don’t want my child to wear a face covering, what should I do?

Please contact your child’s school directly.

My child lives in an area with no additional restrictions but their school is in one of the targeted wards. Do they have to wear a face covering?

We are advising all secondary schools in the borough to introduce face coverings in communal areas and corridors regardless of which area of the borough the school is located in or where pupils live.

Will my child have to wear a face covering on public transport when travelling to school?

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

In school

I am worried about my child being behind in class.

All children will be in the same position as their classmates and their teachers will be able to support them. If you are worried, please speak to the school.

What will happen 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 14 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.

What will happen 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.

Will the full re-opening of schools increase the spread of COVID-19?

We appreciate that you and your child may be anxious about a return to lessons, but we would like to reassure you that all practical steps are being taken to make sure children are safe. Schools have been working extremely hard, both before the end of term and during the summer holidays, to make sure that the learning environment is as safe as it possibly can be when lessons resume.

All schools will be reducing the number of contacts between children and staff during the day. How schools achieve this will differ but is likely to include creating groups (‘bubbles’) and maintaining distance between pupils where possible with pupils outside of the designated bubble. In addition, they will be ensuring more frequent handwashing, additional cleaning and sanitising duties.

Schools have liaised closely with our colleagues in Public Health to put in place systems and measures to contain the spread of coronavirus if a positive case is identified. We will continue to follow the advice of our Public Health officials.

We would ask for your ongoing co-operation in relation to encouraging your family to practise regular hand washing, social distancing, use of face coverings when appropriate, and limiting mixing of households to help minimise the risk of bringing the virus into school. It is clear that keeping the rate of transmission low in the local community will keep schools as safe as possible.

Pupil and family wellbeing

Can family and friends help with childcare such as picking children up from school and looking after them?

The Government have introduced ‘linked childcare households’. Where a household has at least one child aged 13 or under it may link with one other household for informal childcare. Those households cannot be linked with another household for childcare. This means that grandparents/family members can form a childcare link with only one other household for childcare purposes.

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.

My child has been advised to shield. Do they still have to return to school?

Clinically extremely vulnerable children in the eight targeted wards in North East Blackburn who are currently on the Shielded Patient List are advised to continue to stay at home until October 5th 2020.

Those who live in the other wards in Blackburn and Darwen which are not classed as high risk are advised that shielding has been relaxed from September 21st 2020 in these wards. Therefore, children who were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable can return to school from September 21st 2020 provided their school has implemented the system of controls outlined by government guidelines and undertaken all relevant risk assessments.

A member of our household is shielding, does my child still have to return to school?

Full-time school attendance is compulsory for all children from the start of term in September. An exhaustive risk assessment has been carried out by every school, covering as many scenarios as possible and following the guidance from the Department for Education. You can talk through these risk assessments with your child’s school or setting.

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 will need to self-isolate for the first 14 days after their return to the UK unless the country they visited is deemed exempt. Please take the time to check exempt countries.

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.