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Returning to school in Knowsley – what you need to know

by Guy Murphy

Over the past 18 months, our education settings have worked incredibly hard to continue to deliver the best possible learning experience to our children and young people. The easing of COVID-19 restrictions means children and young people are now able to enjoy more freedoms and this will mean things are a bit different when our schools reopen next week.

From early years to secondary schools and college, attending education settings is vital to young people’s learning and social development. Being at school or college keeps young people’s education on track, so they can achieve their full potential, while also benefitting their mental and physical health and wellbeing. This is particularly important given the disruption many have faced due to the pandemic.

Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Everyone connected with education in Knowsley is delighted to be welcoming children back to schools for the first term of a new year.

“To ensure that our schools remain safe for all, I would urge all parents to familiarise themselves with the latest COVID-19 measures and continue regular testing at home.

“I look forward to watching Knowsley’s young people learn and develop over the coming months.”

We’re doing everything we can to ensure young people can continue to attend early learning settings, school or college. Below is what to expect when schools reopen:

Changes to COVID-19 measures

  • Children can again have breaktimes and lunch together and take part in practical lessons and sports with other classes and year groups
  • Schools are advised to continue with regular handwashing, cleaning regimes, and to keep spaces well ventilated
  • If your child is identified as a close contact they will not need to self-isolate. This also applies to school staff / adults who have had both doses of the vaccine.
  • Schools will have plans in place on what to do if anyone at school tests positive for COVID-19, or if additional measures are needed to be reintroduced for a limited period

Should my child attend an education setting?

Yes, attendance is mandatory. Public Health England and the Government’s Chief Medical & Scientific Officers agree that there is a very low risk and rate of severe illness in children from COVID-19. School is the best place for your child to be.

Plans for COVID-19 testing in schools

Testing will only be carried out in secondary schools.

All secondary school pupils (year 7 and above) should receive 2 on-site lateral flow device tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn term.

Secondary school pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when testing requirements will be reviewed by the government. By ensuing your child correctly carries out the lateral flow tests, it will be easier to spot asymptomatic spread amongst pupils. A positive Lateral Flow Test should always be followed up with a PCR test and the person testing should isolate until the results are back.

We will provide further details on whether testing will continue once we receive further information from the Government.

What should I do if my child has COVID-19 symptoms?

It’s important that if your child has any of the main COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste), they should not attend their early years setting and should stay at home.

You should arrange for them to get a PCR test and tell your education setting the test results. Your child should not attend an education setting while are waiting for test results, even if they are feeling better.

What happens if my child has been in contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms?

If your child has been identified as a close contact, you will be advised that your child takes a PCR test. They will not have to self-isolate, unless they have a positive PCR test result.

What should I do if my child is a contact of someone with COVID-19 confirmed by PCR test?

If your child is aged under 18 years and 6 months and does not have any symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, new or continuous cough, loss of or change in, normal sense of taste or smell) they do not have to self-isolate as a contact of COVID-19.

They are advised to have a PCR test unless they have had a positive PCR test in the last 90 days.

Children aged 5 and under are not advised to take a PCR test unless the confirmed case is someone in their own household.

What should I do if my child has a positive result on a lateral flow device test?

If your child has a positive result on a lateral flow device test, they should self-isolate immediately and you should arrange a PCR test as soon as possible.

Other members of the household do not need to self-isolate whilst you await the PCR test result if they do not have symptoms and are aged under 18 years and 6 months or are fully vaccinated.

What should I do if my child is unwell with signs of an infection but does not have symptoms of COVID-19?

Your child should not attend school if they are unwell. If you are concerned you should seek advice from your GP or Pharmacist, who will be able to advise you how long your child should stay off school. Otherwise we would recommend they do not attend school for 48 hours or until your child is symptom free, whichever is longer. We are not currently advising that preschool children get a PCR test if they do not have the three main symptoms of COVID-19.

Will my child be vaccinated?

Only young people aged 16 to 17 have currently been offered the vaccine, as well as children aged 12 to 15 with specific underlying health conditions or who live with others at increased risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 are now also eligible for the vaccine. All school staff have now been offered the vaccine.

If my child was previously considered as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), should they attend school?

Yes. All children who were considered as CEV should have returned to school following the end of shielding measures on 1 April 2021. Further guidance will be given to parents of children who were

previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable where necessary.

Will my child be required to continue any remote learning?

If your child is isolating due to a positive PCR test, schools will continue to implement high-quality remote education so that children can learn from home if they are well enough.