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FAQs on schools and Covid-19

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Returning to school

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

Most of the Covid-19 measures that were in place at the end of last term will still be in place in our schools for at least the first six weeks.

  • All staff will continue to wear face coverings in schools and nurseries (unless they are exempt)
  • All pupils in our secondary schools will also continue to wear face coverings (unless they are exempt)
  • All pupils over the age of 12 will continue to wear face coverings on school transport  (unless they are exempt)
  • No visitors will be allowed in schools for the first six weeks of term, although a parent/carer may accompany a child onto school premises where this is agreed with the school as necessary and is risk assessed in advance
  • Test and Protect contact tracing will still be carried out if any staff or children test positive
  • Secondary aged children and all staff should continue to test twice a week
  • It is highly recommended that all those over 16 get vaccinated as soon as possible
  • Staff e.g. visiting teachers, psychologists, nurses, social workers, youth workers, outdoor learning specialists, HEI tutors and those providing therapeutic support will now be able to move between schools, where necessary.

Why are secondary school children still having to wear face coverings when they aren’t needed in other places? Why aren’t the different restrictions in nurseries and school being lifted?

This is because most children in our schools are unvaccinated. The government and medical community would like to see what impact the removing of restrictions is having in the wider community before taking that step in our schools and nurseries. This is to help us lower the risk of Covid-19 being passed on in schools and nurseries.

Covid-19 testing

How do I get a Covid-19 test for myself or a member of my household? 

All secondary school children can collect Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing kits from their own school. They are only for use by people without symptoms. Please encourage your children to test twice a week.

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 visit NHS Inform 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? 

Please be on the look out for any symptoms of Covid-19 in the coming weeks. If your child develops any of the following symptoms they must not come to school. They and all other members of the family should stay at home as soon as their symptoms start, self-isolate, and take a PCR test. Find out more on NHS Inform. The symptoms of coronavirus (Covid-19) are:

  • a new continuous cough and/or
  • a high temperature and/or
  • a loss of, or change in, taste or smell (anosmia).

If you or your children test positive, Test and Protect will contact you to provide tailored advice on what to do.

What is the new procedure for isolating if someone very close to you or in your household has symptoms?

If someone in your household has symptoms you must all stay at home until you have booked and had the results from a PCR test. If your child is aged between 5 and 18 and their PCR test is negative, they can return to school. Anyone over 18 who is fully vaccinated and has had a negative PCR test can also return to school or work.

If you or your children test positive, Test and Protect will contact you to provide tailored advice on what to do.

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.

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

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 still 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.

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.

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

Yes, 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.

All young people over the age of 12 should wear face coverings on school transport, unless they are exempt.

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 wear a face covering when moving about the school. There are still exemptions in place for pupils and staff who can’t wear a mask for physical, emotional or behavioural reasons.

All young people over the age of 12 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?

The advice here has been updated so that only young people aged 12 and over are required to wear face coverings on school transport. This means that children aged 5-11, who were previously asked to wear face coverings, no longer need to do so. 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. 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?

While a two metre distance is no longer mandatory we are still advising pupils and staff to keep their distance where they can.

Getting to school

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

School transport is running as normal.

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

The advice here has been updated so that only young people aged 12 and over are required to wear face coverings on school transport. This means that children aged 5-11, who were previously asked to wear face coverings, no longer need to do so. There are still exemptions in place for pupils and staff who can’t wear a mask for physical, emotional or behavioural reasons.

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 wear a face covering. 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

What's happening with school meals?

School meals will be available in schools as usual. Your own school will advise you of any special arrangements they still have in place.

Free school meals are now available to all children in P1 to P4.

Breakfast and After-School Clubs

Are breakfast and after-school clubs running?

Yes.  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 wellbeing

My child is feeling anxious about being back in school. What can I do to reassure them?

It is understandable that some children may feel anxious about an outbreak of Covid-19, being back in the classroom, 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.

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