Schools and childcare

This information was last updated on 12 November 2020 and may be outdated. Click here for the latest trade union information on the coronavirus.


All pupils, in all year groups, are to attend school full-time throughout the autumn term. This applies to primary, secondary (including sixth forms), post-16 academies, infant, junior, middle, upper, school-based nurseries and boarding schools. 

The government has reopened schools, some as of June 1 2020 and some as of June 15 2020, citing children’s wellbeing and the lower risk of children themselves becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19).

In order to minimise the number of contacts that a child has during the school day, the government has set out guidelines for schools to follow. The government also expects each school to plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education.


  • a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
  • robust hand and respiratory hygiene
  • enhanced cleaning and ventilation arrangements
  • active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise the potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable

How contacts are reduced will depend on the school’s circumstances and will (as much as possible) 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


The government has also issued a set of preventative measures schools are to implement to reduce the chance of transmission. These include mandatory items and circumstantial ones.


  • Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school.
  • Where recommended, the use of face coverings in schools. Primary school children will not need to wear a face covering.
  • Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual.
  • Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents.
  • Always keeping occupied spaces well ventilated.

For schools to consider and adapt to their particular circumstance:

  • Minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible.

In specific circumstances:

  • Wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).


If there is an outbreak of Covid-19 in a school, each school is meant to follow the following protocol:

  • Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.
  • Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community.
  • Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice.


  • Your child’s school should have a contingency supply of face coverings for children unable to access one or children who have forgotten theirs.
  • No one is to be excluded from education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

You can find more detailed government guidance on their website.

If your child’s school is closed, try contacting your local authority to find out which school they should attend.

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