Covid-19 - School FAQs

Page updated on: 24/09/2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Our schools are taking immediate action as soon as it's known a pupil or member of staff has tested positive for Covid-19.

The process of testing and contact tracing is part of the ‘new normal’ and where schools follow these guidelines carefully, there is no cause for alarm.

Pupils over 11 years old will be required to wear face coverings on school transport and in school indoor communal areas where social distancing cannot be maintained, unless they have a medical exemption.

Please continue to visit our Newsroom for the latest information. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Our key priority has always been the safety of children, their families and school staff and this will continue to be our main consideration as we begin to enter the recovery period.

Please be assured that we have been working hard to put plans in place for our schools. Thank you for your continued support and co-operation.

Please visit this page for all information, it is being continually updated. The following FAQs should answer any queries that you may have about schools re-opening. Get in touch via the "Ask a question" tab if there is anything you need additional information about.

Safety / Social distancing

The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for Wales confirmed people in Wales who are shielding will no longer need to do so after August 16 because the infection rate in Wales is very low.

Pupils who were previously shielding will be able to return to school in the autumn term if the environments are risk assessed to be ‘COVID secure’ (that is, reasonable measures have been taken to minimise the risk to staff and pupils).

According to guidance published by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), the majority of children currently on the Shielding Patients List (SPL) no longer need to shield. Over the summer paediatricians and GPs will be reviewing the records of children who have been shielding to assess whether they need to remain on the SPL. Once a child is removed from the SPL because they do not need to shield, they can behave in the same way as any other child in the school or setting.

Whilst shielding advice is paused, those children who remain on the SPL should follow the same advice as those children in the ‘increased risk’ group.

There are circumstances where children would be unable to attend school for health reasons irrespective of COVID-19 and they should be supported to learn from home if they are able to do so.

More information for people who have been shielding

If a child/parent/household member develops symptoms of COVID-19, the entire household should immediately self-isolate, and you should book a test for the individual with the symptoms.

The COVID-19 symptoms are:

a new continuous cough: this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature) 
a high temperature: this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
loss of or change to sense of smell or taste: this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If your child becomes unwell outside of school hours with any of the COVID-19 symptoms or needs to self-isolate, please report this to us by calling Delta Wellbeing on 0300 333 2222 or by emailing TTP@deltawellbeing.org.uk who will notify the school on your behalf.

Please only contact Delta Wellbeing out of hours if your child has COVID-19 symptoms. During school hours and for all other health-related issues please inform your school directly.

If a 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 and you do not need to self-isolate. Your child can go to school if fit to do so.

School meals will be provided in all primary schools from September 14. As most kitchens have been closed since March, the first few days of the new term will be required for staff training and to carry out cleaning, health and safety compliance checks, stock checks and food orders etc.

In secondary schools, service will be provided to the new year intake during the week commencing September 7 so that they can familiarise themselves with the school cafeteria environment. Parents will be notified by their school if the service can cater for additional year groups over the course of the week. From Monday, September 14, all pupils will be catered for.

Pupils will need to bring in their own food until service resumes. All families who receive free school meals will continue to receive direct payments/ food packs to cover the cost of providing packed lunches until Friday, September 11.

Lunchtimes will be staggered where possible and the layout of the dining areas will be revised to allow for social distancing. New signage and hand sanitiser stations will be in place together with adequate supervision arrangements to manage social distancing and safe pupil conduct.

Parents will not be able to pay for school meals by cash or cheque from the start of the new school term. ParentPay will be implemented in the 13 remaining primary schools. Please remember payment must be made in advance of when meals are required.

Risk assessments have been carried out in all of our schools and a comprehensive range of measures to limit the risk to staff and children have been put in place.

These include:

  • Separate entrances and exits
  • Clear signage around the school on the importance of handwashing, hygiene and maintaining social distancing
  • One-way systems in schools with clear floor markings to encourage social distancing
  • Perspex screens at reception areas
  • New classroom layouts with desks arranged two metres apart
  • Contact between individuals will be minimised as much as possible and pupils will stay in their groups
  • Staggered start and finish times where possible - to keep groups apart as they arrive and leave school and during lunch and break times
  • Daily health questionnaires to be completed
  • Schools will ensure that pupils and staff clean their hands regularly, including when they arrive at school, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating and after using the toilet. Increased number of hand-washing and hand sanitiser stations installed in all schools
  • Schools will ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • A limit on the number of pupils using the toilets
  • Increased cleaning - frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned regularly during the school day and a full clean will take place every evening
  • Each school will have its own designated isolation room should a child or staff member start to feel ill during the day.

Further operational guidance for schools can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Contact between individuals must be minimised wherever possible. However, it is recognised that this can be difficult for younger pupils and that is why in schools the emphasis will be on forming groups of learners and ensuring separation of those groups, and for older pupils it will be on social and physical distancing.

Grouping pupils will help to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, and in the event of a positive case, it will also help to identify those who may need to self-isolate and to keep that number as low as possible.

Staff responsible for younger pupils will remain with set groups and should adhere to social distancing measures as far as possible with younger pupils.

All staff should adhere social distancing measures in their interactions with older pupils, other staff members and visitors to the school.

 

Signage and floor markings will be in place throughout the schools and children will also be reminded by staff if needed.

Fun resources have been developed for use in primary schools, including life-size posters encouraging young children to remain ‘one cow apart’ and ‘social distance hero’ high-vis jackets. We have a song and book to help deliver key messages around social distancing and handwashing in a more light-hearted way.

Poor behaviour from older pupils who wilfully ignore the social distancing rules will not be tolerated, and parents may be asked to collect them from school to carry on with their learning at home. We would appreciate parents support in helping to emphasise the importance of adhering to these new rules to their children before they return to school.

We have increased the cleaning arrangements at all of our schools. Cleaners will be on site, all day cleaning high touch surface areas. A full clean will then be carried out every evening.

All learners aged 11 and over will be required to wear face coverings on school and college transport.

All secondary school pupils (and staff) will be required to wear face coverings in communal areas, where schools risk assessments demonstrate social distancing is not possible. Communal areas includes, for example, corridors and school canteens. It does not include classrooms.

This use of face coverings does not apply to those pupils who are exempt for medical reasons.

We ask parents to provide face coverings for their children for the first day of school where possible. The council will provide a reusable face covering for those pupils who do not have suitable provision.

We are encouraging the use of reusable face coverings where possible, rather than single use face coverings, as not only is this better for the environment but it costs less too.

It is important to remember that face coverings are not to be used as a substitute for social distancing and handwashing.

The use of face coverings in schools will be continually reviewed.

Please see Welsh Government guidance on how to make a 3 layer face mask.

Welsh Government has advised that it is not necessary to check pupils’ temperatures. It is not seen as a reliable indicator of being symptomatic, as many children will not have symptoms but could still be positive. High temperatures are also a common symptom of a large number of childhood conditions so there could be a large number of false positives. Our daily health assessments for pupils should pick up any children who should be isolating rather than being in school.

Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene (catching a cough or sneeze in a tissue or covering the mouth and nose with an elbow or sleeve) are the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

There is therefore no need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) when undertaking routine educational activities at school. PPE will be available to school staff in the event of a child with suspected coronavirus or for personal, hands-on care such as such first aid.

Strict procedures are in place for this and the child will be kept in a separate room until they can be collected and taken home. The room and any surfaces they have come into contact with will be thoroughly cleaned.

Similarly, if a member of staff develops symptoms, they will leave the premises immediately and a thorough clean of their classroom and any surfaces they have come into contact with will be carried out.

When a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified as attending an educational or childcare setting (staff or pupil) contact will be made with the case (or parent) to assess whether they attended the school during their infectious period and whether further tracing of contacts in the school is needed.

If any staff member or child within the school is a contact of the case, they will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and contacted by the local Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) team. If your child is required to self-isolate, everyone else in the household can continue as normal (however if your child becomes symptomatic, the whole household would then need to self-isolate). It is important parents answer their phones to the TTP Team as they will be providing information and advice and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

If a staff member or child from the school is not a contact of the case, they will not be required to self-isolate.

A positive test does not require closure of that school. The process of testing and contact tracing is part of the ‘new normal’ and where schools follow these guidelines carefully, there is no cause for alarm.

If there are multiple cases of COVID-19 in a school then experts from across the NHS and local government will work together to prevent ongoing transmission within the school. This will involve identifying those exposed, any child or staff member who is at increased risk and providing tailored infection control advice. Advice based on the assessment of each individual situation will be provided to support the school in preventing further spread.

Further information and questions and answers about Test, Trace, Protect can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Depending on the country you have travelled from you may be required to self-isolate for 14 days on your return to the UK. The situation is subject to change and we recommend that you check the latest guidance before planning any travel within or outside of the UK.

Yes , however, it is important to follow social distancing at all times. The majority of school crossing sites have social distancing markings in place to help remind you of the rules.

Please follow the instructions from the school crossing patrol and wait on the kerbside until instructed to cross. Ensure that you cross the road in a straight line maintaining a safe distance from the patrol.
Please hold the hands of smaller children.

 

If your children cannot safely walk, cycle or scoot to school and you must bring the car, please park away from the school and walk the last five / 10 minutes of the journey.

It is more important than ever to keep the yellow zig zags (Keep Clear markings) free of vehicles to help keep the area safer for parents and children to cross.

Motorists are also being asked to allow more distance between them and the crossing point when a school crossing patrol displays their stop sign, so that they can ensure a 2-metre distance from pedestrians crossing the road.

 

We are asking parents to please remind their children to wash their hands before and after travelling.

We are also asking you to please remind your children that they will need to keep 2 metres apart when waiting for their bus to arrive.

Buses will be boarded one at a time keeping a safe distance between passengers, and the vacant seat at the rear of the bus must be used first. When disembarking, again pupils must do this one at a time keeping 2 metres apart, starting with the most forward seats first, working back in turn to the rear seats (so that pupils walking down the aisle do not pass any other seated pupils). These rules apply for both inbound and outbound journeys.

Remember pupils should NOT travel if they are feeling unwell, particularly if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or they live in a household with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive to COVID-19 in the past 14 days. If any pupils become ill while at school, their parents will be contacted to take them home.

Yes, all vehicles will be cleaned after every journey.

Some operators may provide hand sanitiser. However, we would like to remind parents of the importance of making sure the children wash their hands before / after travelling.

It is not be possible to practise social distancing on school transport; however, in order to maintain social distancing between the driver and the pupils, the front row of seats nearest the driver will not be occupied.

As most vehicles will be full and learners cannot sit together in their year groups, we wish to emphasise the importance of good hygiene. Not only will this help to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 but also common colds and flu, which will also be of benefit.

Pupils will be required to fill the rear most seats first on the vehicle for each journey and use the same seat on the return journey home.

All learners aged 11 and over will be required to wear face coverings on school and college transport, unless they have a medical exemption. Coverings are required for the whole of their journey to and from school.

We ask parents to provide face coverings for their children for the first day of school where possible. The council will provide a reusable face covering for those pupils who do not have suitable provision.

Failure to wear a face covering will result in transport being withdrawn.

Please remember the most effective way to protect your child and others from infection is to follow social distancing rules, avoid touching surfaces and face, and wash your hands regularly. The wearing of face coverings must not be used as an alternative to any of these other precautions.

Pupils must not touch the front of their face covering during use or when removing them. They must wash their hands immediately on arrival at school or home, dispose of temporary face coverings in a covered bin or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag for washing.

We are encouraging the use of reusable face coverings where possible, rather than single use face coverings, as not only is this better for the environment but it will cost less too.

Please see Welsh Government guidance on how to make a 3 layer face mask.

We are asking parents to provide face coverings for their children for the first day of school where possible and to ensure they have it on when they get on school transport, and that they have washed or sanitised their hands. The council will provide a reusable face covering for those pupils who do not have suitable provision.

Please see Welsh Government guidance on how to make a 3 layer face mask.

We ask parents to make sure their child has their face covering on when they board the vehicle, and that they have washed or sanitised their hands. If a pupil turns up without a face covering, they will be permitted to travel to school but will be asked for their full details by the driver who will inform the school. The school will provide the pupil with a face covering for the return journey. However, should the pupil forget their face covering a second time, they will be refused travel.

Refusal to comply with this requirement will result in your child’s place on school transport being suspended. Your support in reinforcing this message with your child would be greatly appreciated.

Yes, but it is really important to stick to the 2m social distancing rule in the playground, as well as everywhere else.

We know that it is really tempting to greet people you’ve not seen in a long time with a hug or kiss, or to join a chat with a group of parents, but COVID-19 is still with us. Even if you are wearing a face covering, social distancing is essential.

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Education & Schools