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Covid-19 school guidance

Covid-19 school guidance

Advice for parents

It can be difficult to determine when your child should or shouldn’t attend school due to Covid-19.

To support you in your decision, we have created a simple and easy tool which provides guidance of what to do, what action to take, and at what point your child should return to school.

View the Quick guide for parents on Covid-19 absences (PDF document).

The most up to date information can be found on the UK Government website, for information about schools reopening for all pupils.

Q: Will my child who attends school in Wokingham Borough have to wear a face mask at school?

  • Following a Government announcement on 25 August, schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances. 
  • Schools will communicate this directly with parents and pupils if it will apply as this will be decided by each school. Face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible.
  • If Wokingham Borough were to become a local lockdown area, where children in Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings would then be required to be worn by adults and pupils when moving around, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. 
  • As in the general approach, it will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
  • Those travelling to school on public transport will have to wear a face mask, as required under law. Those using dedicated school transport services do not have to wear a face mask but it is recommend.
  • Visit the UK Government website for the latest advice on wearing facemasks in an educational setting.


Is it safe to go back to school?

  • Wokingham borough schools are looking forward to welcoming back pupils for the start of the autumn term
  • The council continues to work with all schools and academies in the borough, and will support each governing body or trust to make decisions that are appropriate to their school and school community to ensure the safe return of children, young people and teaching staff
  • This will mean that arrangements may differ between schools across the borough as each school situation, site, building and staffing arrangements are unique
  • As a result the schools individual risk assessments and plans determine what is right and safe for them to do in making provision in line with the Department for Education guidance for September
  • All children should be returning and any parents with concerns should speak to their child’s school about this

 

What’s being done to make schools safe?

      
  • Ensuring those who have Covid-19 symptoms, or live in a household where someone has symptoms, do not attend school
  • Classroom bubbles and staggered start times have been introduced, in line with Public Health England guidance, to ensure it’s as safe as possible and contact is minimised at the school gates for the wider community
  • Some schools may also be phasing the return to school as the term starts, to enable everyone to get to know the new routines and for those pupils joining the school for the first time to become familiar with their new setting
  • Schools will be encouraging regular hand washing throughout the day and will have extra cleaning regimes in place
  • Schools will work with the NHS Test and Trace to ensure anyone in contact with a confirmed case can be followed up, isolated and tested as required
  • Risk assessments will also consider the steps needed to protect children and staff who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus because of medical or complex needs, age or ethnicity

How are students being helped to catch up when they return?

  • The council’s educational psychology service has been supporting schools on how to reintroduce young people to school life, with a curriculum tailored to include this as well as catch up on key curriculum areas
  • Government has provided some catch-up funding (£80 per pupil/£240 per pupil for those special educational needs and/or disabilities, or those in our pupil referral unit) to help make the transition back into school life as smooth as possible

Do children have to social distance?

  • There will not be a requirement for one metre or two metre distancing between children, but secondary schools will encourage this, particularly with older pupils where they can
  • Where space permits, desks might be rearranged to reduce face-to-face contact
  • Schools will plan to keep groups of pupils apart where possible by keeping them separate in ‘bubbles’
  • The size of the bubble will depend on how each school organises its teaching timetable and curriculum
  • Teachers have been advised to keep a two-metre distance from other adults and older pupils, where possible

What time will school start and finish?

  • This will vary at each school depending on classroom bubbles, year group bubbles, travel arrangements and other factors
  • Schools will keep parents informed directly on this

Will my child have to wear a face covering?

  • Children and staff won’t have to wear face coverings at school.
  • Those travelling to and from school on public transport will be required to do so, if they are 11 or older. It’s advised those using home to school transport through the council also wear masks
  • Face coverings can be removed upon arrival at school. Hands should be washed on arrival
  • Staff will have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) if they are dealing with a child with Covid-19 symptoms who cannot socially distance

What if my child gets ill with Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

If your child develops any of the following symptoms:

  • A new, persistent cough
  • High temperature
  • Loss or change to sense of taste or smell


They should stay at home, you should let the school know and get a test arranged immediately.

  • The child must self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms
  • If the test is positive the NHS Test and Trace Service will request details of anyone your child has had close contact with. Please notify your school of the result
  • The whole household should also isolate for 14 days, unless there is a negative test result
  • Children will also need to stay at home for 14 days if another member of your household develops coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms

What if a child falls ill at school?

What if several children are ill at once?

  • If another child or staff member at your school has a confirmed case of coronavirus (i.e. has a positive test), then your child might be asked to isolate at home for up to 14 days if they are considered to be a close contact
  • If two or more cases are found within 14 days, larger groups of young people might have to self-isolate as a precautionary measure
  • In all cases, the local Public Health England team will be providing advice on outbreak management to the school

What if there’s a large outbreak?

  • Closing schools may be necessary if there is a spike in infection rates and a local lockdown

What about before and after school clubs?

  • Check with your child’s school – they will be making their own arrangements

We have just returned from holiday, are we required to quarantine?

  • Details about which countries can be visited without a quarantine on return are constantly being updated, check for the latest position on travel quarantine on the government website.
  • If you already have a holiday arranged and find that your family is required to quarantine on return then your child must isolate at home for the necessary period.
  • You should contact your child’s school and let them know so that homework can be provided.

The UK Government has published leaflets for parents of children returning to school:

Visit our webpage for more information and resources for parents and carers to help them as they prepare young people to return to school.

If they live close enough, children are encouraged to walk or cycle to school, both for their own safety and to relieve pressure on reduced capacity public transport. Visit the My Journey Wokingham website to see suggested walking routes.

We will be promoting walking and cycling through the autumn term.

There are a number of measures parents and their children can take in order to keep school buses safe.

Before the school journey

  • It is now the law that children and young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport. This law does not apply to dedicated school transport. However, we recommend that people aged 11 and over wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary schools
  • Journeys may take a little longer to ensure no crowding when getting on or off the bus, please be patient and wait 15 minutes past the scheduled pick-up time before reporting any non-arrivals
  • When boarding and alighting from the vehicle, do so in a calm and orderly manner maintaining a distance from the passenger in front of you


During the school journey

  • Where a bus pass is required, it must be shown to the driver rather than handing it to them to hold
  • Passengers must fill from the back of the bus until it arrives and then leave from the front, avoiding passing others in the aisle.
  • Where available, passengers must use the hand sanitiser provided when entering and leaving the vehicle
  • Passengers must treat all people at the designated stop, including other passengers and staff, with respect and understand that some may be at higher risk
  • Passengers must not intentionally cough, spit, or invade another passenger’s space or the driver’s space


At the end of the school journey

  • Passengers must take all belongings with them when exiting the vehicle, it will be more difficult to return forgotten items during this time
  • Passengers must check the area outside of the vehicle doors before exiting and adhere to the appropriate and current social distancing legislation, there may be other students or public passing the vehicle


Students and parents can also read the UK Government guidance or the Home to School Transport code of conduct addition (PDF document) if they are unsure of the behaviour expected.

Train travel

If your child gets the train to school, they will need to wear a face mask during their journey to comply with the law in England, if they are aged 11 or older unless they have a valid exemption. For full rules on public transport use visit the UK Government website.

Students in Wokingham Borough are likely to get the train with either GWR or SWR depending on where they are travelling.

You can read the GWR guidance for Covid-19 travel here.

You can read the SWR guidance for Covid-19 travel here.

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