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COVID-19 Government guidance on school attendance

Below are the key points from the Government’s addendum to School Attendance Guidance, issued 06 August 2020

From the start of the autumn term 2020 pupil attendance will be mandatory and the usual rules on attendance will apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to ensure that their child of compulsory school age attends regularly at the school where the child is a registered pupil
  • schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
  • the ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct

Although school attendance is mandatory from the start of the autumn term, there are some circumstances where pupils cannot attend school due to coronavirus (COVID-19).


Pupils who are required to self-isolate as they, or a member of their household, has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19)

Pupils who have symptoms should self-isolate and get a test. Confirmation of the test can be provided to the school to allow the school to record this (Code X) on to the pupil’s attendance record and the pupil’s overall attendance will not be negatively impacted.

If a pupil tests negative and if they feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus (COVID-19), they can stop self-isolating and return to school. Parents are not required to show proof of a negative test results and pupils should return to school without delay. If a pupil tests positive, they should continue to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of their symptoms. They should only return to school if they do not have symptoms other than a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste (anosmia). This is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone. Confirmation of a positive test result can be provided to the school to ensure that the school take all appropriate steps in response to that result and additionally to allow the pupil’s absence from school to be authorised (Code I).


If someone in the pupil’s household has symptoms, the household should self-isolate and the member of their household should get a test. Confirmation of the test can be provided to the school. If the member of the household tests negative, the pupil can stop self-isolating and can return to school. If the household member tests positive, the pupil should continue self-isolating for the full 14 days from when the member of their household first had symptoms. The school should be notified of the positive test result to allow the school to consider if they need to take any further action.

 

Pupils who are required to self-isolate because they are a close contact of someone who has symptoms or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19)

Pupils may not have symptoms themselves but may be required to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone with coronavirus (COVID-19). The NHS test and trace guidance states that a person should self-isolate for 14 days if they have had recent close contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). Again this confirmation can be provided to the school to allow this to be recorded on to the pupil’s attendance record and the pupil’s overall attendance will not be negatively impacted

In the event of a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case in the school community, the local health protection team will provide advice on who this applies to, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with the person that has tested positive when they were infectious.


Pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable in a future local lockdown scenario only

Shielding advice for all adults and children paused on 1 August 2020. This means that even the small number of pupils who will remain on the shielded patient list can return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding.
If in future, rates of the disease rise in local areas, children still on the shielding list (or family members still on the shielding list) from that area, and that area only, may be contacted by the government and advised to stay at home and shield during the period where rates remain high. Families will receive a letter if they are required to shield again that parents will be able to share with the school.
Where a member of the pupil’s household is clinically vulnerable, the above is also applicable. As shielding has been paused since 01 August 2020, the pupil should return to school as expected. The school will have additional measures in place as per Government’s guidance to schools.