Skip to content

Coronavirus – school absence


There’s always a rise the number of bugs and illness at the start of term, and this year for obvious reasons, there has been a heightened awareness of when our children feel unwell, though in most cases this will not be COVID-19.

However, COVID-19 has not gone away so you can’t rule it out, especially as children and young people experience much milder symptoms of the virus than adults.

It’s extremely important that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms stays at home and gets tested to avoid the risk of spreading the virus to others, including the more vulnerable in our communities.

That means if your child, or anyone in your household, has any of the symptoms of coronavirus, no matter how mild, you must keep your child off school and self-isolate your whole household while the person with symptoms gets tested and waits for the results.

Just the person with symptoms needs to get tested. If you don’t have symptoms, you don’t need to get tested unless you are asked to by a health professional, but you do need to self-isolate until your household member gets their results.

You can book a test on the government website or by calling 119. If you can’t get a test, or the location or time are not convenient, keep trying as availability is updated throughout the day. Please do not go to your GP or A&E department.

Currently only people with COVID-19 symptoms need to get tested. The symptoms of COVID-19 are: 

  • A high temperature
  • OR new, continuous cough (usually dry with no mucus or phlegm produced)
  • OR loss or change to sense of smell or taste

Visit the NHS 111 online symptom checker and check the government website for changes to testing guidance. Public Health England has also written to all parents about using the Test and Trace system correctly. 

As we head into the autumn and peak colds/flu season it may be more difficult to identify whether any symptoms your child or other member of your household has are signs of COVID-19. This symptom checker chart may help you decide whether you need to keep your child off school and when to book a test.

  • What if my child has COVID-19 symptoms

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and tell school they have COVID-19 symptoms
    • Get your child tested and tell school the result
    • Self-isolate whole household while waiting for test result (If unable to get a test, child must self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started and rest of household must self-isolate for 14 days)

    Return to school:

    • If your child’s test result is negative and they feel completely well. They should be without a high temperature for at least 24 hours.

  • What if my child tests positive for COVID-19?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and tell school test result
    • Self-isolate your child for 10 days from when their symptoms started (or from day of test if no symptoms)
    • Self isolate your whole household for 14 days from when your child’s symptoms started (or from day of test if no symptoms) even if someone else in the household tests negative during that time

    Return to school:

    • After completing 10 days self-isolation and they feel completely well.
    • They should be without a high temperature for at least 24 hours.
    • They can return to school even with a cough or loss/change of taste or smell as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

  • What if someone in my household has COVID-19 symptoms?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and tell school a household member has COVID-19 symptoms
    • Household member with symptoms should get tested
    • Whole household self-isolates while waiting for test result. (If unable to get a test, household member with symptoms must self-isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started and rest of household must self-isolate for 14 days).

    Return to school:

    • When the household member’s test result is negative, and your child does not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • What if someone in my household tests positive for COVID-19?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and tell school test result
    • Self isolate whole household for 14 days from when this person’s symptoms started (or from day of test if no symptoms) even if someone else in the household tests negative during that time

    Return to school:

    • When your child has completed 14 days self-isolation (even if they test negative during that time) and does not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • What if NHS Test and Trace identifies my child as a ‘close contact’ of someone who tests positive for COVID-19?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and tell school
    • Self isolate your child for 14 days (even if they test negative during that time).
    • Rest of household doesn’t need to self-isolate, unless they are a ‘close contact’ too.

    Return to school:

    • When your child has completed 14 days self-isolation (even if they test negative during that time) and does not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • What if my child has been sent home from school in a 'bubble' as advised by a public health professional?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home
    • Self isolate your child for 14 days (even if they test negative during that time).
    • Rest of household doesn’t need to self-isolate, unless they are a ‘close contact’ too.

    Return to school:

    • When your child has completed 14 days self-isolation (even if they test negative during that time) and does not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • What if we have travelled and must self-isolate due to quarantine rules?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and tell school
    • Household members that travelled must self-isolate for 14 days, even if someone tests negative in that time
    • Please do not take unauthorised leave during term, and consider quarantine requirements and government advice when booking travel

    Return to school:

    • When your child has completed 14 days self-isolation (even if they test negative during that time) and does not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

  • What if we receive advice from a medical/official source that my child must resume shielding?

    You need to:

    • Keep your child at home and contact school to discuss
    • Shield your child until you are told that restrictions are lifted, and shielding is paused again.

    Return to school:

    • When you are told that restrictions are lifted, and shielding is paused again.

  • What if my child has a runny/stuffy nose or sore throat, but does not have COVID-19 symptoms

    You need to:

    • Think about whether your child is well enough to go to school or not

    Return to school:

    • If you think your child is well enough, and they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.  Use the NHS111 symptom checker if you’re not sure

  •  

    This schools advice to parents and carers is also available as a PDF to download or print.

    If you require this information in another format or language please email communications@devon.gov.uk


Top