Advice for schools

Coronavirus – Advice for educational settings

Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19) – March 17th

Yesterday (March 16th), the Government introduced new guidance on whole household isolation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
  • if you live with others and you or another member of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.

The symptoms are:

  • A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
  • A new, continuous cough

The full stay at home guidance for households with these symptoms can be found here:

The Prime Minister’s statement from Monday 16 March can be found here:

The Department for Education and Public Health England have issued updated guidance for education settings on COVID-19.  This guidance will assist staff in addressing COVID-19 in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.

What you need to know:

  • staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
  • if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
  • clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
  • supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues

Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.  The updated guidance can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19#contents

The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.

Handwashing advice

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.

Watch this short NHS film for guidance:

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls. We appreciate your patience at this time and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends.

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.

Where to find the latest information

Updates on COVID-19:

Guidance for educational settings:

Guidance for social or community care and residential settings:

Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:

Educational resources:

Latest Department for Education information: