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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) in relation to when children should and should not attend school during the COVID-19 pandemic

National lockdown: Stay at Home (from 5 Jan 2021)

  • Early years settings are open.
  • Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
  • Higher education will learn remotely until mid-February.

The information below has been compiled by Torbay Council to help parents to know what to do about sending children to school under the following situations.

My child tests positive for COVID-19

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school

  • Contact school to inform us
  • Child self-isolates for at least 10 days from when symptoms started (or from day of test if no symptoms)
  • Self-isolate the whole household for 14 days from day when symptoms started (or from day of test if no symptoms) – even if someone else tests negative during those 14 days.
  • Household members only need to get tested if they are symptomatic

…10 days have passed since symptoms began, even if they still have a cough or loss of taste/smell (these symptoms can last for several weeks once the infection is gone)

AND the child feels well

My child is ill with symptoms NOT linked to COVID-19

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school

  • Contact school to inform us
  • Ring on each day of illness

…after 48 hours following the last bout of sickness or diarrhoea

AND the child feels well.

Someone in my household has COVID-19 symptoms

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school

  • Contact school to inform us
  • Self-isolate the whole household
  • Household member to get a test
  • Child does not need a test unless symptomatic
  • Inform school immediately of test result
…the test comes back negative

Someone in my household tests positive for COVID-19

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school

  • Contact school to inform us
  • Self-isolate the whole household
  • Child does not need to get a test unless symptomatic
  • Agree an earliest date for possible return (minimum of 14 days)
…the child has completed 14 days of isolation.

My child tests negative

Action needed Return to school when…
  • Contact school to inform us
  • Email us a photo or screenshot of the negative result.
  • Discuss when your child can come back (same day/next day)
…the test comes back negative

NHS Test & Trace has identified my child as a close contact of somebody with symptoms or confirmed COVID-19

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school

  • Contact school to inform us
  • Agree an earliest date for possible return (minimum of 14 days)
  • Rest of household does not need to self-isolate, unless they are a ‘close contact’ too
  • If your child develops symptoms, inform us as soon as possible and get your child tested. Your whole household will then need to self-isolate.
…the child has completed 14 days of isolation.

NHS Test & Trace has identified a household member (other than my child) as a close contact of somebody with symptoms or confirmed COVID-19

Action needed Return to school when…
  • The household member must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Child can continue to attend school.
…child can continue to attend school.

A sibling attending another school has been sent home to self-isolate due to there being a positive case in their school

Action needed Return to school when…
  • The sent home sibling must self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Our student can continue to attend school.
…child can continue to attend school.

My child has travelled abroad from a country or territory that is NOT on the exempt list of countries

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school

  • If returning from a destination where quarantine is needed:
  • Minimum of 14 days self-isolation for all those that travelled.
  • Contact school to inform us you are back in the country and we will agree an earliest date for possible return to school.
  • Self-isolate the whole household.
  • Use https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for up to date travel information
…the quarantine period of 14 days has been completed.

My child has travelled abroad from a country or territory that IS on the exempt list of countries

Action needed Return to school when…

If returning from a destination where quarantine is NOT needed:

  • Check the current exempt countries and territories list at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to confirm the country you have travelled from or through is on the exempt list.
  • Ring school to inform us you have returned to the UK and agree a return date to school.
…you have informed the office of your return to the UK and you are exempt from self-isolation.

I have travelled from a country that requires us to quarantine (but my child did not travel)

Action needed Return to school when…
  • As long as you do not have/have not had symptoms in the last 14 days, your child can continue to attend school.
  • The person who has travelled MUST NOT leave the house, including to do pick-ups and drop offs.
…child can continue to attend school.

We have received medical advice that my child must resume shielding

Action needed Return to school when…

Do not come to school.

  • Contact school to inform us.
  • Shield until you are informed that restrictions are lifted and shielding is paused again.

…school inform you that restrictions have been lifted and your child can return to school again.


…you receive medical advice that your child may return to school.

My child’s bubble is closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in school

Action needed Return to school when…

Child must not come to school

  • Support your child at home with remote education provided by your school.
  • Your child will need to self-isolate for 14 days, but they can continue to be part of family life in the home, such as meal times etc. Do not have visitors to the home.
  • Other siblings may continue to attend school
…school inform you that the bubble will be reopened.

I am unable to get a test for someone in the household

Action needed Return to school when…
If you are unable to get a test via 119 or https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test in the first 8 days of having symptoms, your child and your household must self-isolate for 14 days. …the child has completed 14 days of self-isolation.

My child has spent time with someone who is not in our household and is now displaying symptoms

Child can come to school, unless:

  • the person receives a positive test result
  • your child or someone in your household develops symptoms.

My child is asked to isolate but gets a negative test result

They must continue isolating.

My bus gets us to school earlier than our designated time, can I drop my child off early?

Please do not arrive to school early

To ensure there is no overlap of year group bubbles, it is paramount that you arrive to school at the designated time.

What happens if there is a confirmed case at school? Will we be informed?

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19, the Senior Leadership Team will contact the Local Health Protection Team and Local Education Team.

The Local Health Protection Team will initiate contact tracing and relevant parties will be informed and provided with the relevant guidance. Understandably, the pupil or staff member’s name will not be shared.

How do you define a close contact?

Close contacts are defined as those who have had the following contact during the infectious period of the index case:

  • face-to-face contact (within one metre) including being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation, or having skin-to-skin physical contact
  • any contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • more than 15 minutes within 2 metres
  • travelled in a small vehicle with a case or in a large vehicle near a case
  • or someone who has been notified that they are a contact of a co-worker confirmed as a COVID-19 case

Please note: the above will depend on the type of education setting, bubble, age of children and nature of lesson.