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Attending school and college safely

Help and advice for children and families about attending school and college safely.

The government continues to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of children and young people. It remains very important for children and young people to attend their education setting to support their wellbeing and education and to help working parents and guardians. 

Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school.

Childcare or education is one of the exceptions that children, young people and parents and carers can leave their home for.

Why is socialising in the home ‘unsafe’ but going to school or work is safe?

A simple explanation is none of the things we are allowed to do under the national restrictions are ‘safe’ but we can only allow a certain amount of spread before cases rise out of hand again.

As a population we have a limited ‘budget’ for social interactions at the moment and we have to ‘buy’ what it essential, for example education for our children and keeping the economy moving to keep jobs and leave the ‘nice to haves’ out of the trolley for a while.

All education providers have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe.

Read our most frequently asked questions about attending school.

Early years and childcare

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare for the duration of the national restrictions (5 November to 2 December):

  • Early years settings and childminders remain open, and parents can continue to use these settings as normal
  • Parents will be able to access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers
  • Nannies will be able to continue to provide services in the home
  • Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with another household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is 13 or under

Settings should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in guidance. 

Schools

Schools continue to remain open for all children and young people.

The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk from coronavirus and schools can take action to reduce the risks still further.

Face coverings in schools

In primary schools and education settings teaching year 6 and below, it is not mandatory for staff and visitors to wear face coverings. In situations where social distancing between adults in settings is not possible (for example when moving around in corridors and communal areas), settings have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site, for both staff and visitors.

In schools where pupils in year 7 and above are education, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

Further education

Further education colleges will remain open to on site delivery, and should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in the actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak guidance.

Face coverings

In further education colleges, face coverings should be worn by adults and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.

Clinically extremely vulnerable children

More evidence has emerged that show there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from coronavirus, even for children with existing health conditions. Most children originally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow original shielding advice. Parents should be advised to speak to their child’s GP or specialist clinician if they have not already done so, to understand whether their child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

Those children whose doctors have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend education whilst the national restrictions are in place. Schools will need to make appropriate arrangements to enable them to continue their education at home.

Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should still attend education.

For parents/carers of children with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities (SEND) you may find it useful to read the information available on the Family Information Service (FIS) Directory webpages.

In all settings some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings, adults and pupils should be sensitive to those needs.

All of the latest advice and guidance in relation to education children can be found on the GOV.UK website.

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