Lifestyle

Coronavirus: Does my child have to return to school?

The prime minister has urged parents to send their children back to school for the autumn term.

So, how will the return to classes work?

Do I have to send my child back?

Schools in Scotland have now reopened, along with some schools in Northern Ireland. England and Wales are set to follow next month.

Children must return for the autumn term, unless they – or a close contact – develop symptoms or test positive for coronavirus.

Head teachers can follow up pupils’ absences and issue sanctions, including possible fines.

Shielding has been paused, but at times some children may shield for longer because of higher local rates of coronavirus.

Separate guidance has been published for England,Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What will schools have to do?

The government has set out a system of controls for schools and said the following four points must happen in all schools, all the time.

  • keep pupils with Covid-19 symptoms, or with family members with symptoms, away from school
  • introduce more frequent hand-washing
  • promote good hygiene around the use of tissues for sneezes and coughs
  • have enhanced cleaning procedures

It also wants schools to minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible.

How will the school day work?

Schools are expected to teach a broad and balanced curriculum when they return, but the school day may look different to previous years.

Schools are also being asked to:

  • stagger start and finish times, without shortening the number of teaching hours each pupil receives
  • minimise the number of contacts each pupil has during the day, by putting classes or whole year groups into “protective bubbles”
  • avoid assemblies or collective worship with more than one group

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