Parent guidance about schools during COVID-19 pandemic

Information for parents about schools opening wider from 1 June 2020 and what changes are being introduced by schools when they're open.

If you're a parent and a key worker or have a child that is classed as vulnerable and your usual early years childcare setting is not available, please contact the Suffolk Family Information Service
on 0345 608 0033 and they'll help you make alternative childcare arrangements.
School management and staff can find guidance relating to schools here.


Last updated: 13 July 2020 (reviewed daily)

Reopening of schools from 1 June 2020

As part of the government's plans to ease lockdown, schools and early years settings opened to more pupils from 1 June 2020.

Please visit our Parent guidance about schools during COVID-19 pandemic page for comprehensive details and answers to your questions.

We realise that the decision whether to send children and young people back to school at this time will not be an easy one to make. Government guidance has made it clear that it is not compulsory for parents to send their children to school at this time and there will be no penalties for families who choose to keep children at home.

Schools will continue to provide accessible opportunities for children and young people to learn at home and your school will explain to you how they plan to keep in touch with you over the coming weeks. To see which children your school is open for, visit our schools closure page.

As new details are confirmed, we will updated the FAQs below. Check the Department for Education (DfE) website on GOV.UK for latest information on schools, colleges and early years.

Please be aware the government makes a differentiation between those who are clinically vulnerable and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, it is important that you check the guidance to make sure you are following the most appropriate guidance for your vulnerabilities. The current advice from the DfE is that your child can attend school if they live with someone who is clinically vulnerable, including someone who is pregnant.

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you, or your child are considered extremely clinically vulnerable you will have received a letter. Follow the most appropriate guidance for your vulnerabilities.

If you are concerned that you or your child are extremely clinically vulnerable but have not received a letter, please contact your GP.

Current DfE advice is that your child can attend school if stringent social distancing and hygiene measure can be followed. It is also important that your child can understand and follow social distancing: if they are unable to follow/understand social distancing they should stay at home.

We would encourage you to speak to your child’s headteacher about any concerns you have and work with your child’s school to put a risk assessment in place. If you find stringent measures cannot be adhered to the current advice is that your child should not attend school.

Doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you, or your child are considered extremely clinically vulnerable you will have received a letter. Follow the most appropriate guidance for your vulnerabilities.

If you are concerned that you or your child are extremely clinically vulnerable but have not received a letter, please contact your GP.

Current DfE advice is that your child, who lives with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable can attend school if stringent social distancing and hygiene measures can be adhered to. It is also important that your child can understand and follow social distancing: if they are unable to follow/understand social distancing they should stay at home.

We would encourage you to speak to your child’s headteacher about any concerns you have and work with your child’s school to put a risk assessment in place. If you find stringent measures cannot be adhered to the current advice is that your child should not attend school.

Does Suffolk have a plan to manage any local outbreaks?

Children and Young People and Public Health teams have been working together to implement processes to alert us of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 across all of our complex settings.

A letter was sent to all schools and Early Years settings on 3 July detailing the arrangements, along with a link to a flowchart and template for reporting suspected or confirmed cases.

Any suspected cases should be notified by sending the notification template to EducationOfficersResolution@suffolk.gov.uk or if it is necessary to notify a case out of hours please email Covid-19@suffolk.gov.uk.

Who can be tested?

School staff (which includes kitchen staff, cleaners etc) and leadership can be tested if they are symptomatic, this includes family members of staff, who are living in the same household.

When should I be tested?

Individuals working in schools who are symptomatic should be tested between days 1 and 5 of symptoms.

Self-isolation after suspected or confirmed COVID-19 Our regional public health England COVID team have reported some incidents over the past week where pupils or teachers have not self-isolated despite either a household member being COVID-19 positive or symptomatic with suspected COVID-19.

Current guidance states that if a member of a household has symptoms of COVID-19, then all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill. Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Read: stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection published on GOV.UK.

How will I receive my results?

Your test results will be emailed to the email address provided at registration.

Will my manager get the results?

Yes, your manager will also receive notification of your results.

If I test positive what do I need to do?

You should follow the advice from the NHS which will accompany your results.

If you are a parent who is a key worker or has a child that is classed as vulnerable and your usual early years childcare setting is not available, please contact the Family Information Service who will help you to find alternate provision.

Contact the service on 0345 60 800 33 or visit the Family Information Service page for more information.

The DfE is encouraging children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to attend school when they reopen unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions making them extremely clinically vulnerable).

If your child is unable to attend, you should let your child’s school know as usual so they can discuss with you.

Yes, please make sure you have had contact with your school before your child returns.

Schools have been working hard to ensure health and safety measures are in place and children are being taught in smaller groups to enable social distancing.

Your school will need time to plan for your child/children’s return.

Government guidance has made it clear that it is not compulsory for parents to send their children to school at this time and there will be no penalties for families who choose to keep children at home.

Can my child attend school if they live with someone who is vulnerable?

Please be aware the government makes a differentiation between those who are clinically vulnerable and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, it is important that you check the guidance to make sure you are following the most appropriate guidance for your vulnerabilities.

The current advice from the DfE is that your child can attend school if they live with someone who is clinically vulnerable, including someone who is pregnant.


Can my child attend school if they are extremely clinically vulnerable?

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you, or your child are considered extremely clinically vulnerable you will have received a letter, although more information for someone who's clinically vulnerable can be found here.

If you are concerned that you or your child are extremely clinically vulnerable but have not received a letter, please contact your GP.

Current DfE advice is that your child can attend school if stringent social distancing and hygiene measure can be followed. It is also important that your child can understand and follow social distancing: if they are unable to follow/understand social distancing they should stay at home.

We would encourage you to speak to your child’s headteacher about any concerns you have and work with your child’s school to put a risk assessment in place. If you find stringent measures cannot be adhered to the current advice is that your child should not attend school.


Can my child attend school if they live with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable?

Doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you, or your child are considered extremely clinically vulnerable you will have received a letter, although more information for someone who's clinically vulnerable can be found here.

If you are concerned that you or your child are extremely clinically vulnerable but have not received a letter, please contact your GP.

Current DfE advice is that your child, who lives with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable can attend school if stringent social distancing and hygiene measures can be adhered to. It is also important that your child can understand and follow social distancing: if they are unable to follow/understand social distancing they should stay at home.

We would encourage you to speak to your child’s headteacher about any concerns you have and work with your child’s school to put a risk assessment in place. If you find stringent measures cannot be adhered to the current advice is that your child should not attend school.

Your school leaders are working very hard to make sure setting will be safe for children and staff.

This includes ensuring that social distancing measure are in place, and reduced class sizes of no more than 15 pupils per class. Other arrangements could include staggered breaktimes, more outside time (while social distancing) and staggered breaktimes.

Your school leaders are also working hard to ensure social distancing is in place when you drop off and pick up your child, and classes do not mix during the day.

We understand this may be a worrying time for children, and they may be anxious about going back to school.

We would encourage parents to make the school aware of your child’s worries, as it is important they know so they can support your child before they return and also when they are in school. The type of support needed will be different for every child, this is why open communication with your school is so important, so your child can get the right support for them.

Where possible we would encourage families to walk or cycle to school.

If pupils get an SCC school bus they should be able to travel as usual. Social distancing measures will be in place on school buses to ensure the safety of pupils.

More information can be found at www.suffolkonboard.com/FAQs

There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a school. Uniform that cannot be machine washed should be avoided.

Currently the advice being given to schools is that children and staff are not required to wear PPE.

Please also see the question below "What if my child falls ill with symptoms while at school?"

If you child falls ill at school with coronavirus symptoms, they will be taken into a well-ventilated room with a member of staff.

You will be called immediately to collect your child and you will need to follow the NHS guidelines around self-isolating.

We would like you to know that should your child fall poorly with symptoms at school, the member of staff with them will be asked to wear PPE, we know this might be unsettling for you child but it is in place to make sure everyone is safe.

This video has been made by Suffolk County Council to reassure children who may be scared by people in PPE.

If a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms of coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days.

Their fellow household members should also self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

To support children eligible for free school meals, schools will be able to purchase meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops.

The government has also confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

If your child is eligible for free school meals, they will receive a meal or vouchers regardless of whether or not they are attending school.

They might do. But your child’s school will tell you about any changes and that this means for you.

We do not currently anticipate that children and young people will need to repeat a school year as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak.

We continue to look at all options to make sure children and young people get the support they need to continue their education during the coronavirus outbreak and make up for time spent out of school.

Once a child has been admitted to a school it is for the head teacher to decide how best to educate them. This may, on occasion, include deciding that a child should be educated in a year group other than the one indicated by their age.

Such decisions should be based on sound educational reasons and in consultation with parents.However, it remains possible for headteachers to agree this in individual cases if they think it is appropriate

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