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FAQs on schools and Covid-19

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Returning to school

Is it safe for my child to go back to school?

Research has shown that children are less likely to become unwell and transmit the virus than adults. Any transmission within schools is more common between adults, rather than transmission between children. A UK study of Covid-19 shows that outbreaks in schools tend to be linked with higher community transmission levels. It is more harmful for children not to be in school, particularly for those with pre-existing challenges.

The following pieces of research may provide you with more reassurance: https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/covid-19-research-evidence-summaries#transmission

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(20)30882-3/fulltext

https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/news-events/news/1500-paediatricians-sign-open-letter-prime-minister-reopening-schools

What new measures are in place for children returning to school?

All of the Covid-19 measures that your child had got used to before Christmas will be in place, with some new measures for secondary schools:

  • In secondary schools all pupils and school staff need to wear face coverings in school, this now includes inside the classroom.
  • 2m distancing will be in place throughout secondary school until the Easter break, except during outdoor learning

When will my child return to school full-time?

Already our nursery children and P1, 2 and 3s are back in school full time. From Monday 15 March all our P4,5,6 and 7s will be back in the classroom full time. All secondary school children will have some time in the classroom between Monday 15 March and the Easter break. At home learning will continue for the time that your child is not in the classroom. Your school will let you know the individual arrangements for this.

Covid-19 testing

Are schools carrying out Covid-19 tests? How do I get a test for myself or a member of my household? 

All secondary school children can collect Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing kits which they can pick up from their own school. They are only for use for people without symptoms. Taking part in the programme is not mandatory but it is encouraged. These tests come with full instructions and should be done at home.

Fife Council and NHS Fife are also carrying out Community Testing for those with no symptoms in a number of areas in Fife. These tests are free for everyone.

If you or a member of your household has Covid-19 symptoms go to www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test to arrange a test.

Tests can also be arranged by calling 0800 028 2816.

What symptoms should I be looking out for? 

Familiarise yourself with the symptoms and make sure you know what to do if you think someone is unwell. The most common symptoms are:

  • new, continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste

Further advice can be found at  coronavirus.nhsfife.org

Self-isolation/Quarantine

Who must isolate if someone in the household is showing symptoms? 

Everyone in the household should self-isolate until the person who is symptomatic receives their test results.

Visit coronavirus.nhsfife.org for information on symptoms, self-isolation and testing.

If your child has had a negative test they can return to school or nursery with a continued cough as long as they are otherwise well enough to attend.

My child has a cold, can they attend school or nursery?

If your child does not have symptoms of Covid-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, they do not need to be tested and they do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school or nursery, if fit to do so.

Please remember if your child has been ill, you must wait until they are better and have been 48 hours free from fever, diarrhoea and vomiting, before sending them back to school or nursery.

We have just come back from a holiday overseas, do we need to quarantine?

For the latest advice on which countries require you to quarantine  on your return visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

What if a parent regularly travels abroad for work and is exempt from quarantine (working in oil and gas industry/road haulage etc), do the children need to quarantine each time the parent returns?

No. If your children have not been abroad, they do not need to quarantine.

We are entitled to Free School Meal Allowance (FSM) but now my child has to self-isolate. How do we access this?

Parents and carers who receive benefits, whose children are entitled to Free School Meals (FSM), will get a payment of £2.30 per day (£11.50 per week) instead of a meal while their child is being asked to self-isolate. This payment may take up to seven days to appear in your bank account.

Is there any help available to us if we have to isolate as a family?

You can apply for Coronavirus Community Assistance online yourself or on behalf of someone else. We will try to process your request within 24 hours or next working day.

We understand that not everyone can get online. If you, or someone you know, is struggling, call the free Fife Covid Community Helpline, open Monday to Friday, 9 to 5pm. Covid Community Helpline - 0800 952 0330

Outbreaks in schools and nurseries

What happens if there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 in a school/educational setting?

If there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 in school or an educational setting, the local public health team will set up an Incident Management Team (IMT) to assess the situation in more detail. The assessment will draw on information gathered by speaking with the case, their contacts, from the school itself and the education service. If your child is identified as a contact of the positive case you will be contacted directly by public health or the school.

Cleaning and disinfection protocols would be enhanced as they are a vital part of prevention and reduction in the spread of infection.

Will the school close if any child or teacher tests positive for Covid-19?

Each case will be looked at individually to assess the risk. If someone in the school or nursery tests positive, the school will continue to follow measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The local Health Protection Team (HPT) will conduct a rapid investigation and undertake a risk assessment. The HPT will advise on the most appropriate actions to take.

Who will contact us to let us know if our child has been directly affected? 

Anyone who is identified as having been a “close contact” with any of those who have tested positive, may be contacted directly by the NHS Fife Test and Protect Team or by the school. Close contacts will be advised to self-isolate at home and they will be given full advice on what that means.

Can schools give out children's details to track and trace investigators? 

Yes.

Hygiene and Cleaning

How often are classrooms/schools/nurseries being cleaned?

All our schools and nurseries are given an enhanced clean every day. Areas that are frequently used are being cleaned regularly during the day.

Is hand sanitiser available in school?

Hand sanitiser is available for children and adults coming in and out of our buildings and when moving from class to class. Children can bring their own hand sanitiser to school if they want.

What measures have you put in place to make sure children are washing their hands regularly?

Teachers and pupils are following new cleaning and hygiene protocols which include regular hand washing. You can help at home too by talking to children about the need to keep themselves and others safe at school by washing their hands.

Do the windows need to be open all day in the classroom?

We need to make sure that our classes are well ventilated to help minimise the risk of infection. This doesn’t mean that windows and doors need to be wide open all the time. We have been working closely with all our schools to look at the individual needs of each school, to create a balance which reduces the chance of infection while keeping indoor temperatures that are suitable for comfort, health and wellbeing, and to promote effective learning and teaching.

Please make sure that your children have an extra layer of clothing that can be worn if needed.

Face coverings and physical distancing

Do primary and nursery school children need to wear face coverings in school?

No. Primary and nursery school children do not have to wear face coverings in school, but they can if they would prefer to. All children and young people should wear face coverings on school transport, unless they are exempt.

Do secondary school children need to wear face coverings in school?

Yes, From Monday 15 March all young people in secondary school need to wear face coverings at all times in the school, even in the classroom. All staff in secondary schools must also wear face coverings at all times in the school, including within the classroom.

There are still exemptions in place for pupils and staff who can’t wear a mask for physical, emotional or behavioural reasons.

Do children in special schools need to wear face coverings in school?

Yes, but not in the classroom. All children in special schools should wear face coverings in the communal areas of the school. This means they should wearing a face covering when moving about the school, when they come in and when they leave, when they go to the toilet and when they are moving between classes. There are still exemptions in place for pupils and staff who can’t wear a mask for physical, emotional or behavioural reasons.

All children and young people should wear face coverings on school transport, unless they are exempt.

Do teachers, or other adults, have to wear face coverings in school?

Teachers and adults must wear face coverings in all areas in secondary and special schools.

Teachers and school staff do not have to wear face coverings in the classroom in primary schools but should wear a face covering in all communal areas of the school and when they cannot avoid being within 2m of someone else.

Parents should make sure they are wearing a face covering at all times in or near school grounds, even when dropping off or picking up children.

Do all children need to wear a face covering on school transport?

Yes, all children aged 5 and over must wear a face covering on all types of school transport.

There are still exemptions in place for pupils and staff who can’t wear a mask for physical, emotional or behavioural reasons.

My child can’t wear a face covering because of physical/behavioural/emotional reasons? 

If a child cannot wear a face covering for specific reasons, they will not have to. Please, contact your school to discuss this.

My child can't wear a face covering, do I need to notify the school?

You should contact your school to discuss why you think your child can't wear a face covering. It may be that an individual risk assessment needs to be carried out.

What reasons will be considered acceptable for a child not to wear a face covering?

There can be many reasons why face coverings are not suitable for certain children. If you feel your child should not be wearing one for health, behavioural or emotional reasons, then please contact your school to discuss this.

No child will be denied education because they are not wearing a mask, but it is in everyone's interest to do what they can to comply, to try our best to keep the whole school community safe.

What will happen in the school if a child refuses to wear a face covering?  

If there is no obvious reason why a child should not wear a face covering, and the school have not been contacted by a parent requesting they be exempt, this matter would be dealt with by the school in line with the behaviour management policy.

Do pupils need to physically distance from each other?

Nursery and primary school children don’t have to physically distance from each other, but they should try to keep their distance from adults. It would be helpful if you could remind them of this and practice physical distancing with them to help them understand how far 2m is.

All adults in nurseries and schools should keep 2m apart from other adults, and in secondary schools also from pupils. They should wear face coverings in all communal areas. In secondary schools 2m distance should be kept at all times, even in the classroom.

From Monday 15 March until the Easter break all secondary school pupils must keep 2m distances from other pupils and adults.

Getting to school

Is school transport (buses, minibuses, taxis) running as normal?

School transport is running as normal however, there are rules that need to be followed:

  • Hand hygiene is really important, so children using school transport must wash their hands before they leave the house.  Hands will also have to be sanitised on arrival at school.
  • Children over the age of 5 travelling on all school transport must wear a face covering unless they are medically exempt.
  • Transport arrangements will be in place to ensure that children returning are able to get to school.
  • Secondary aged pupils must maintain social distancing of 1 metre whilst travelling on dedicated school bus transport.

If it is necessary to alter the transport arrangements for any pupils, parents/carers will be informed by Friday 12 March.

Do all children need to wear a face covering on school transport?

Yes, all children aged 5 and over must wear a face covering on all types of school transport.

I like to drop my child off by car, can I still do this?

Even if your child is entitled to free transport, making more use of active travel options will improve their physical and mental health too. The healthiest and most fun way for children to get to school is by walking, cycling and scooting.

If you are thinking about using a car to get to/from school remember that parking near schools is strongly discouraged for safety reasons. Why not look for alternative drop off points, away from the school, where you and your children can walk the remaining distance?

I usually take my child to school or nursery can I still do this?

Yes, but please remember to stay 2m away from other adults when dropping your children off at school and wear a face covering. Please only one adult from each household if possible, to reduce numbers around the school gates Do not congregate around the school gates. Schools have their own tailored approach to how children should arrive and leave. Speak to your school for more information.

Uniforms and equipment

Do children need to wear school uniform?

Yes, we expect children to wear their school uniform as normal. PE/gym kit can also be brought to and from school as usual.

School meals/milk & winter payment

What's happening with school meals?

School meals will be available in primary schools as usual.

Your own school will advise you of the arrangements they have in place until after the Easter break.

Will my child be able to get lunch at school?

Yes, in primary schools hot and cold school meals are available in all schools as normal and lunches can be booked and paid for through iPay as usual. Individual schools may change their routine or timings slightly.

Secondary schools will have their own arrangements in place. Your own school will advise you what the situation is in your school.

Can my child bring a packed lunch with them?

Yes, packed lunches can be brought in as usual, but children shouldn’t share what’s in them with anyone else.

My child’s at high school and goes to the local shops at lunchtime, can they still do this?

Until the Easter breakpupils are being asked to remain in the school grounds at lunchtime.

Is school milk available?

School milk is available and can be booked and paid for in the usual way.

What about Free School Meals (FSM)?

Those in primary schools who are entitled to free school meals will not receive the direct payment, for the two weeks from 15 March onwards, as meals will be provided in school in the normal way.

Direct payments to parents/carers of secondary pupils entitled to free school meals will continue until a they return to school full time.

We are entitled to FSM but now my child has to self-isolate. How do we access this?

Parents and carers who receive benefits, whose children are entitled to Free School Meals (FSM), will get a payment of £2.30 per day (£11.50 per week) instead of a meal while their child is being asked to self-isolate. This payment may take up to seven days to appear in your bank account.

Can FSM payment be made if I choose not to send my child to school due to concerns about COVID 19? 

A payment can only be made if the child is instructed to self-isolate by the Health Protection Team and the Education Service.

Breakfast and After-School Clubs

Are breakfast and after-school clubs running?

Some school breakfast clubs won’t begin until after the Easter break. Check with your own club if you haven’t already been notified about arrangements. If your child currently uses one of these clubs  or you’d like to register your child for a place, you can contact the team on Childcare.Services@fife.gov.uk

You can also follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FifeChildcareServices

Emotional well being

My child is feeling anxious about being back in school and worried they might catch Covid19. What can I do to reassure them?

It is understandable that some children may feel very anxious about an outbreak of COVID19, being back in the classroom, exam results or starting a new school. There is a lot of good advice for children and parents from the Educational Psychology Team that you’ll find on www.fife.gov.uk/educationalpsychology

All schools will be focusing on emotional wellbeing in the first few weeks, to help our children settle back in and to respond to any anxieties or concerns they may have.

Home learning

If my child is off school because they are ill or isolating will they be given school work to do?

Your child will be given work to do at home if:

  • they are isolating on the advice of a health care professional
  • they are isolating as a member of the household is positive and they are a contact
  • they are themselves positive - in this situation, the school will contact you to see if your child is well enough to receive learning to do at home

Our schools have their own individual systems for communication and sharing learning, so your own school will identify how this learning will be provided and supported.

Support for those isolating

What support is available to us as a family if we need to isolate?

We understand that being asked to self-isolate at short notice can present you with a lot of problems. There are many reasons some people need just a bit more of a helping hand, and we want you to know that in these uncertain times it’s perfectly ok to reach out for that support. We want to make sure that everyone who needs it has access to essential support and help with general wellbeing at this difficult time.

You can apply for Coronavirus Community Assistance online yourself or on behalf of someone else. We will try to process your request within 24 hours or next working day.

We understand that not everyone can get online. If you, or someone you know, is struggling, call the free Fife Covid Community Helpline, open Monday to Friday, 9 to 5pm. Covid Community Helpline - 0800 952 0330

952 0330

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