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Returning to secondary school: what parents need to know

From the autumn term, all children in England will return to school full-time. This is a direct extract from the Government’s advice leaflet for parents of children returning to secondary school.

Why does my child have to go back to school?

School is the best place for children to learn and for their overall wellbeing. It gives them a routine and helps them develop their social skills. They also get to see their friends and teachers.

It is vital that all children return to school in the autumn. Attendance will be mandatory again from the beginning of the new term. The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased since schools and colleges restricted their opening to most pupils in March.

Is it safe for my child to return to school?

Public Health England (PHE) is clear that the risk of catching coronavirus (COVID-19) is low if schools apply a system of stringent controls to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This includes regular handwashing and cleaning measures.

We are advising schools and parents to make sure that anyone with symptoms does not attend. The chance of children becoming severely ill from the virus is also very low.

Do children transmit coronavirus (COVID-19) more than adults?

No. Young people are no more likely to transmit the virus than adults.

Will my child be expected to socially distance in secondary school?

We are encouraging older pupils to maintain social distancing in line with government guidance, where possible. To further reduce risks, we are asking secondary schools to keep students in consistent groups and minimise mixing between groups. These groups may be larger than in
primary schools, so that schools can deliver the curriculum and subject choices for students.

What should I do if my child or someone in my household has symptoms?

It’s important that if your child (or anyone in thier household) has any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, they do not attend school and stay at home. You should arrange for them to get a test and tell your school the test results. This will help the NHS Test and Trace process. If you have a positive test result, your household should remain at home and follow the Test and Trace selfisolation guidance.

What happens if there is an outbreak in the school?

If there is an outbreak at the school, local health protection teams will work with the school to agree what action is needed.

Usually, the school will not need to close, but in the event it does need to close for some or all children, the school will have a contingency plan in place so that your child’s education can continue. If your local area sees a spike in infection rates that is resulting in localised community spread, the government will decide what actions need to be taken.

Is there different advice for children who are clinically extremely vulnerable?

Shielding advice for all adults and children paused on 1 August. This means that even the small number of pupils who are still on the shielded patient list and those who have family members who are shielding can return to their school.

Visit for more information on returning to school safely. Your child’s school will have more information about the changes they have made ahead of your child’s return in the autumn term.

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