Can my child go to school if I have Covid? And other post pandemic Coronavirus questions for parents

The guidelines on managing Covid in schools have changed a lot over the last few years and it can be hard for parents to keep up. To try to help, we’ve put together the latest information on some frequently asked questions. 

Are there still any Covid rules schools have to follow? 

There are now no longer specific rules relating to Covid in schools. As Covid presents a low risk to young people and there are high vaccination rates, schools have been advised to treat Covid like other respiratory infections such as flu. Schools should still be encouraging their pupils to get vaccinated and follow basic hygiene precautions. Schools should have details of their Covid guidelines on their websites. 

If I test positive for Covid, can my child go to school?

Yes, they can and should. Government guidance states that: “Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive COVID-19 test result should continue to attend as normal.”

It is only the person who has Covid who is advised to stay at home, not their children or other family members. Adults who have Covid or Covid symptoms are advised to stay home and avoid contact with others for at least five days, children for three.   

Can my child go to school with Covid? 

No, they shouldn’t attend school with Covid or Covid symptoms. Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature or who have tested positive for Covid are advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for three days. The time is less than for adults as children tend to be infectious for a shorter time. The recommended three days starts from the day after they did the test or first showed symptoms. 

After three days if they feel well and don’t have a temperature they can return to school. If they are still unwell they should wait until they feel better and their temperature has returned to normal. 

Most children and young people will recover quickly from Covid and other respiratory illnesses. 

Can my child go to school with cold symptoms?

Children and young people with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend school or nursery. However, if they feel unwell, have a high temperature, or a positive Covid test they shouldn’t attend. 

What happens if my child’s teacher gets Covid?

Teachers are advised to follow the standard guidelines for adults and stay at home and avoid contact for at least five days. Testing for pupils who have been in contact with someone who has Covid is no longer recommended. Schools are no longer required to inform parents of Covid cases. 

Does my child still need to be tested for Covid if they show symptoms? 

No, they don’t. Free tests are now only offered to people at risk of developing serious illness from Covid. This applies to adults and children. It is not recommended that children and young people are tested for Covid unless directed to by a health professional. If your child develops Covid symptoms, they should follow the guidelines even though they haven’t had a test. Covid tests can still be bought from chemists and other suppliers. If you choose to give your child a Covid test and they test positive, they should stay at home for at least three days even if they do not have any symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of Covid in children?

According to the NHS website symptoms of Covid can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

Am I legally required to keep my child off school if they have Covid symptoms?

It is not mandatory to keep your child at home, but it is strongly advised. If you do try and send your child in with symptoms, schools can refuse to admit them. The Department for Education guidance says that: “If you insist on your child attending nursery, school, or college when they have symptoms, they can take the decision to refuse your child if, in their reasonable judgement, it is necessary to protect other pupils and staff from possible infection with Covid-19. Their decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and current public health advice.”

What measures are schools still taking to prevent the spread of Covid? 

The best protection is vaccination and schools should be supporting all eligible pupils to take up vaccination programmes for Covid-19 and flu. Masks are no longer recommended in schools, but the following hygiene measures should still be in place: 

  • encouraging basic hygiene measures such as regular hand washing and cleaning
  • encouraging children to cover their mouths when coughing and sneezing
  • ensuring that spaces are well ventilated and that fresh air is let in regularly

Will my child be offered remote learning if they are off school due to Covid?

Schools are encouraged to provide this where appropriate. Some are, but others are treating it in the same way as they would other illness related absences and encouraging children to rest and recover. You should contact your child’s school directly to find out what provisions are being made. 

Is anything being done to tackle the loss of learning that occurred during the pandemic?

Several schemes have been put in place to attempt to tackle this, including the National Tutoring Programme, which aims to provide 1-1 tutoring for those affected the most. 

If you have concerns about your child’s learning you should contact your child’s school. 

Where can I get more information on Covid policies in England? 

Read more on the latest government guidance on Covid-19 rules in schools.