Back to school
Schools in Nottinghamshire welcomed children back in September 2020 for the start of the new term.
Schools are well prepared, with appropriate measures in place, however we understand that parents may still have some concerns or questions, in terms of steps taken or temporary changes in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
Is it safe?
Everybody wants their children to be safe, and the evidence has shown that the risk of severe disease in children is low. However, although the number of COVID-19 cases has declined, it is still in general circulation, so schools are putting sensible precautions in place to reduce potential transmission and minimise any risk to teachers and pupils.
Schools will have plans in place to offer education to pupils remotely if necessary, if they need to self-isolate.
What if I have concerns?
Speak to your school about your concerns and the plans that the school has in place.
What measures will be in place?
All schools must comply with essential measures, which include:
- a requirement that children and adults who are ill stay at home
- effective hand and respiratory hygiene
- enhanced cleaning arrangements
- active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
- measures to reduce contact and maximise social distancing between those in school wherever possible, minimising potential for contamination.
The exact measures will vary from school to school, and will to some extent depend on the layout of buildings. Many parents will be familiar with these from when schools reopened in the summer. Measures include:
- grouping children together
- avoiding contact between groups
- arranging classrooms with forward facing desks
- staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible.
Secondary pupils in local lockdown areas of England will need to wear face coverings in school corridors from the beginning of September. This does not currently apply to any schools in Nottinghamshire. Secondary school headteachers in the county may, however, decide to use their discretion to require face coverings in communal areas, where social distancing is not possible.
What is the UK government's advice?
The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased, the NHS Test and Trace system is up and running, and measures have been put in place to create safer environments within schools.
Returning to school is important for children's education and their wellbeing. Being out of school for significant periods can have a significant negative impact on their learning and academic development. Lower academic achievement affects the standard of living that today’s pupils will have over the course of their life. Therefore it is important to ensure that all pupils return to school sooner rather than later.
The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low.
In relation to working in schools, whilst it is not possible to ensure a totally risk-free environment, the Office of National Statistics’ analysis on coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths linked to occupations suggests that staff in educational settings tend not to be at any greater risk from the disease than many other occupations. There is no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults.
Given the improved position, the balance of risk is now overwhelmingly in favour of children returning to school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Will parents by fined if their children do not go back?
The decision about whether to issue fines for non-attendance is a matter for each school, not the County Council. Parents can be assured that all appropriate measures will be in place, and that we will be helping those families who need additional support.
What should I do if my child gets symptoms of COVID-19? What happens if there are cases at my school?
If you are a parent or carer, this flowchart gives guidance about whether your child should attend school.
- If your child develops COVID-19 symptoms, keep them home from school and get a test. Let your school know the test results as soon as you get them.
- Everyone in your household should stay at home while a person with symptoms is tested, and afterwards, in line with NHS self-isolation guidance, if the test result is positive.
- Your school will let you know if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 and your child needs to be isolated. Schools will provide home learning for children who are in a bubble that needs to stay at home.
- If you have children at different schools or in different bubbles, and one of your children is in a group which has been sent home to isolate, there is no need for any other household members to stay at home, unless the child develops symptoms.
School and college kitchens will be open from the start of the autumn term. They will provide free school meals and universal infant free school meals as usual for those who are eligible.
We've needed to adapt our menu as some of our normal supply chains have been disrupted. We haven't compromised on nutrition or taste, and we are continuing to use fresh ingredients.
We have an interim menu for primary school meals and a similar interim menu for secondary school meals will be available shortly. For more details, please check with your school.
For more information about school meals please use the link below:
Transport advice: How will my child get to school? Will school buses be running?
We are working hard to ensure that we have sufficient capacity. We have contracted extra coaches to provide dedicated school transport services. There will, however, be challenges while social distancing measures are in place.
- Wherever possible, and especially for journeys to school of two miles or less, we would strongly suggest that children and young people get to school by walking or cycling.
- Pupils that do arrive by car should, where possible, complete the last part of the journey on foot - 'park and stride' - to avoid congestion and to allow safe access to schools.
- The County Council has issued guidance to operators to make bus travel as safe as possible, in line with government recommendations.
- Some schools may be staggering school start and finish times to reduce pressure on transport services. Please check with your school to see what arrangements they have in place.
General transport guidance and advice
- Walk cycle or scoot where you can.
- If you are travelling by public transport, allow more time. You must wear a face covering if you are aged over 11, unless you are exempt.
- If you are sharing a car, open the windows, wear a face covering unless you are exempt, and leave some seats free to social distance.
- Share your car with the same people each time.
- Travel in the smallest groups.
- Keep as far apart as you can.
- Clean your car between journeys, especially touch points.
Watch a video message from Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health for Nottinghamshire, to parents and carers, on travel to school.
SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) school transport
Temporary arrangements for SEND school and college transport will be in place in September, with new procedures in place.
Supporting schools as children return
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Educational Psychology Service (EPS) has been appointed to provide practical guidance to schools across the UK, to help them recover and support children returning to school (for more details please visit our news page).
The EPS has produced various resources for a safe and successful return, supporting children’s emotional wellbeing, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), which are available to schools: www.sendgateway.org.uk/whole-school-send/find-wss-resources/
Nottinghamshire County Council has also produced personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance for schools and other educational settings during the COVID-19 pandemic via this page.