Support for Parents and carers (including schools and early years)

Useful information, guidance and support for Parents and Carers during the period of National Restrictions. From the 8th of March, all children and students will start to return to school and college.

When children start to return to school from the 8th of March, nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will continue to implement the range of protective measures that they were using throughout the autumn term. These measures have been further strengthened to help decrease the disruption the virus causes to education. 

Schools will continue to update parents directly about how the guidance will affect them personally and how schools will be implementing any relevant changes.

Testing

Testing in education settings is now well established, with 600,000 tests done at universities since last year and more than three million rapid COVID-19 tests conducted in schools and colleges in England since 4 January, including tests for those students who have already returned and regular testing for all staff.

Secondary School Testing

All secondary and college students will be offered testing from the 8th of March, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing. Those who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. If you or your child (if they are aged over 18) do not consent, they will not be stopped from going back and will return in line with their school or college’s arrangements. Primary school children will not be regularly tested without symptoms due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.

Family Testing

In addition to this, the government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission. Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.

Tests will be available for adults in these households to collect on 1 March. As with student testing, this is encouraged but not mandatory. 

Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:

  • testing in-person via workplace testing
  • local authority test sites
  • collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
  • a new home ordering service, which launched on 1 March will allow people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home

From the 9th of April everyone in England, including those without symptoms, will be able to take a free rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) test twice a week, you can find out more on how to access these tests via our testing page.

Face Coverings

Where pupils in year 7 and above are educated, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms (such as in corridors) and in the classroom where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have pulled together some key information for parents and carers to help make sure that our schools and childcare settings remain as safe as possible. If you have any specific questions, please contact your school directly.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

One or more of the following are considered a symptom of Coronavirus:

  • New continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if the person usually has a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • Fever (temperature of 37.8°C or higher) – the individual will also feel hot to touch on their chest or back
  • A loss or change to sense of smell or taste – this means the person has noticed they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

How can I tell if my child has Coronavirus or a common cold / other illness?

Parents will know that during this time of year, children are more likely to pick up other illnesses, such as the common cold. Children with symptoms such as a headache, sore throat, runny or sniffly nose, earache or itchy eyes, lethargy or tiredness WITHOUT any of the symptoms mentioned above should NOT BE treated as potential coronavirus cases or advised to take a test.

What should we do if my child has one or more of the coronavirus symptoms?

If a child is unwell with one or more of the recognised coronavirus specific symptoms they should not leave the home, this includes going to nursery, school or college. If they are already at school when symptoms develop, they will be sent home.

If your child has any of the symptoms then it is advised that you get a coronavirus test as soon as possible.

It is important that while waiting for a test / result your entire household self-isolate to help contain any risks of spreading the virus further.

What is happening with testing in schools?

Secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing. Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.

In addition to this, the government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more COVID-19 cases and break chains of transmission. Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders. 

Testing in education settings is now well established, with 600,000 tests done at universities since last year and more than three million rapid COVID-19 tests conducted in schools and colleges in England since 4 January, including tests for those students who have already returned and regular testing for all staff.

With about a third of individuals with coronavirus showing no symptoms and potentially spreading it without knowing, targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases within households are found and prevented from entering schools and colleges, helping to keep educational settings safe. Rapid testing detects cases in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. This can be the difference between children being able to stay in school, or a class being sent home due to an outbreak. It could also be the difference between a workplace having to close for a period, or being able to stay open and running.

All households with primary and secondary school and college age children, and childcare and support bubbles, will be encouraged to start regular twice-weekly testing as schools return. Tests will be available for adults in these households to collect on 1 March. As with student testing, this is encouraged but not mandatory. A secondary PCR test will be required for positive lateral flow tests which are taken at home, either through at home PCR testing or at a local PCR testing site.

Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:

  • testing in-person via workplace testing
  • local authority test sites
  • collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
  • a new home ordering service, which launched on 1 March will allow people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home

Rapid, regular testing for new groups is one of a range of new measures designed to minimise the spread of COVID-19 and support the successful return of more learners to face-to-face education and childcare settings. Testing is an additional tool, working in conjunction with other protective measures that are in place in schools to help protect staff and students including social distancing, handwashing and face covering. Schools and colleges will not be expected to provide the test kits to families or administer the family testing process.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should book a test online or by calling 119.

If my child tests positive, do the rest of the family need to self-isolate as well?

Yes. The child with symptoms and everyone who lives in your household must self-isolate at home until the results of the test are known.

What about our support bubble?

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and your household. Anyone in your support bubble must also self-isolate until the results of the test is known.

What happens if the test is negative?

If the test is negative then the child, your household and support bubble no longer need to self-isolate.

What happens if the test is positive?

If the test is positive, it means coronavirus is confirmed.

Your child must now stay at home for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate for 10 days from when you started self-isolating.

You must also let your child’s school know they have a confirmed case.

How will we find out if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus at my child’s school?

Doncaster Council has worked closely with schools across the borough to agree a process for communicating with parents, carers and young people when positive cases of coronavirus are confirmed within schools.

All relevant information, including the number of cases and the impact this will have on particular bubbles, year groups or the school in general, will come directly from the school via their usual communication networks such as letters home with children, on their website, emails or school social media networks.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus at the school my child attends?

You will hear directly from the school if there has been a case of coronavirus at your child’s school and what the impact, if any, will be on fellow pupils and staff.

What if my child is sent home from school due to a confirmed case in their bubble?

If your child is sent home from school for 10 days due to a confirmed case in their bubble it is important that the child then self isolates for the full 10 day period. This means the child should not be leaving the home, and you should not be having any visitors into your home.

If your child is not showing symptoms, then the rest of the family do NOT need to isolate and your child does NOT require a test.

If my child is told to self-isolate by school do I also need to self-isolate?

No. Parents, siblings or anyone else living in the same home as well as your support bubble, do not need to self-isolate if your child is NOT showing any symptoms If during their 14 day self-isolation period your child does start to show symptoms your entire household should self-isolate immediately and you should book a test for your child.

If a member of your household is told to self-isolate this means they should not leave their home or have any visitors until the self-isolation period is over.

How am I meant to make sure my child is self-isolating if I am at work?

If your child is at an age where they cannot be left alone, you will need to speak to your employer and explain the situation. Employers are being asked to support their employees to do the right thing and they should have contingency plans in place for this situation.

It might be a good idea to speak to your employer in preparation to understand policies should your child be required to self-isolate.

If your child is older and can be left at home alone it is vital that you make sure they are sticking to the self-isolation rules while you may not be around to monitor them. It is against the law to break self-isolation and the Test and Trace team may check to ensure that no breaches are occurring.

What happens to my child’s education while they are self-isolating?

All schools have been working hard to ensure that they are set-up for remote learning in case of bubbles having to be closed. It might be worth speaking to your school to understand what they have set-up in case of children being sent home for prolonged periods of time.

What new measures are my school putting in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Schools across Doncaster have all worked incredibly hard to ensure that they are safe as possible. Doncaster Council and the Department for Education (DfE) continue to offer ongoing support to schools, this includes in regard to cleaning policies, availability of PPE and the best way to manage bubbles.

For students in year 7 and above, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by students (and staff) when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. In addition, we now also recommend that students in year 7 and above should wear face coverings in classrooms and during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact the ability to take part in exercise (for example in PE lessons) or when students are outdoors on the premises.

In primary schools, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering.

We are recommending these additional precautionary measures for a limited time during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the community. These measures will be in place until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep this under review and update guidance at that point.

Transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. There is currently very limited evidence regarding the effectiveness or safety of transparent face coverings, but they may be effective in reducing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Face visors or shields should not be worn as an alternative to face coverings. They may protect against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in preventing aerosol transmission when used without an additional face covering. They should only be used after carrying out a risk assessment for the specific situation and should always be cleaned appropriately.

Those who rely on visual signals for communication, or communicate with or provide support to such individuals, are currently exempt from any requirement to wear face coverings in education settings or in public places.

Can my child attend two different childcare settings?

Parents are encouraged to minimise, as far as possible, the number of education and childcare settings their child attends to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus.

Childminding settings should consider how they can work with parents to agree how best to manage any necessary journeys, for example, pick-ups and drop-offs at schools, to reduce the need for a provider to travel with groups of children. Discuss the risk assessments your childcare provider has in place to manage the risk of pick-ups and drop-offs. Settings and childminders are for planning and implementing the ‘system of controls’, building on the hierarchy of protective safety measures that have been in use throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to enable them to manage wrap around care for children safely.

I have two children one in the early years, and one school-aged. Can both children attend a childminder?

A childminder would be able to provide childcare for the early years child and wrap around care for the school aged child providing they have availability and a robust risk assessment in place to manage drop offs and pick ups.  

How will school drop-off and pick-up work?

When picking up your child from school, please ensure that only one parent or carer goes to collect the child to ensure that social distancing can remain in place. Please make sure that you wear a mask and social distance from other parents and carers whilst you are waiting to collect your child. Once you have collected your child, please do not stay around the school premises as this will likely cause gatherings to form.

Childminder Information:

Parents can use a childminder or other after school provision for their child. Parents should seek assurances from the childminder or other care provider that they have robust risk assessments in place alongside other protective measures. This will help to ensure that any risk is carefully assessed and managed to safeguard the health and well being of all children in their care. The Government guidance says that childminding settings should consider how they can work with parents and carers to agree how best to manage any necessary journeys, for example pick-ups and drop-offs at schools, to reduce the need for a provider to travel with groups of children. If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school, walking is preferable. If this is not practicable, then a private vehicle is preferable to public transport.

If you use a childminder or other childcare provision, you should ensure that the school is aware of these arrangements. This will help the school to manage drop off and pick up times as efficiently as possible, minimising any risk to your child or to others. If you have any further questions, then please contact your child’s school who will be happy to answer any concerns you may have.

My child usually goes to school in the morning and the local nursery in an afternoon where they offer after school care. Can they still go?

The government are asking parents to keep the number of different childcare providers they use to a minimum. Where a child routinely attends more than one setting on a part time basis, for example because they attend a mainstream school and an alternative provision setting, special school or nursery setting, schools and early years providers should work closely together to ensure that, as far as possible, they are keeping children in the same small consistent groups that they are in throughout the day. If that is not possible, children should be kept in small consistent groups from one day to the next wherever possible. Protective measures detailed in a robust risk assessments should be in place to help to ensure that any risk is carefully assessed and managed to safeguard the health and well-being of all children.

Why are primary school children not being tested?

Public Health England have advised there are currently limited public health benefits attached to testing primary pupils with lateral flow devices. Primary age pupils, particularly younger children, may find the LFD testing process unpleasant and are unable to self-swab. Hence why asymptomatic testing is not being performed in Primary School Children.

If your child develops coronavirus symptoms please book a symptomatic test either online https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119 and isolate until you receive the result.

Early Years

Early Years settings (including private nurseries and childminders) remain open. Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities (including wraparound care).School Nurseries are encouraged to open like other Early Years providers but this is at the discretion of the Head teacher. As a minimum, they should be open to vulnerable children and critical worker children in line with the rest of the school.

We know that some Critical Workers with children in the Early Years age range may be struggling to find a childcare place during this time.Families Information service are here to help!

The team are on hand to provide personal support in helping to match parents and children with one of our wonderful and dedicated Ofsted registered Early Years providers. Alternatively you can use the Families Information Service childcare finder to search for an Early Years Provider at https://fis.doncaster.gov.uk/Synergy/

Contact us:

Freephone: 0800 138 4568

Phone: 01302 735237

Email: fis@doncaster.gov.uk  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donfis

Worried about sending your child/children to school?

We know many parents may still be worried about sending their child to school with the ongoing pandemic.

We feel strongly, as do our schools, that school is the best place for our children and we have worked closely as a team with all schools in Doncaster to make them as safe as prepared as possible.

If you're still feeling anxious and would like further support, we would encourage you to contact your child's school or alternatively speak to our Attendance and Pupil Welfare Service who are on-hand to provide dedicated support for your family so that we can ensure our children are going to school in the right way for them, and that you are confident and happy about your child's safety and well being. The Attendance and Pupil Service team are available on 01302 736504 or at APWS@doncaster.gov.uk

Further information and updates

Where can I find out more information?

We will continue to provide updates through the council’s social media channels (below) as regularly as we can, and will be updating these frequently asked questions as we receive more information. Don’t forget to also check your child’s/children’s school website and other communications channels for updates.

TWITTER FACEBOOK 

More information is also available on the Coronavirus Information for Parents and Carers webpage.

Return to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) homepage

Last updated: 13 April 2021 11:04:30