Information on COVID-19
School Risk Assessments
Questions and Answers on COVID 19
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- new continuous cough and/or
- fever (temperature of 37.8°C or higher)
- Loss of or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
Children may also display gastrointestinal symptoms.
What is the mode of transmission?
COVID-19 is passed from person to person mainly by large respiratory droplets and direct contact (close unprotected contact, usually less than one metre). These droplets can be directly inhaled by the person, or can land on surfaces which another person may touch which can lead to infection if they then touch their nose, mouth or eyes.
What is the incubation period?
The incubation period (i.e. time between exposure to the virus and developing symptoms) is between 1 and 14 days (median 5 days).
When is a person infectious?
A person is thought to be infectious 48 hours before symptoms appear, and up to seven days after they start displaying symptoms.
Are children at risk of infection?
Children of all ages can catch the infection but children make up a very small proportion of COVID-19 cases with about 1% of confirmed cases in England aged under 19 years. Children also have a much lower risk of developing symptoms or severe disease.
Can children pass on the infection?
There is some uncertainty about how much asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic children can transmit the disease but the evidence so far from a number of studies suggests children are less likely to pass it on and do not appear to play a major role in transmission. Most children with COVID-19 have caught the infection from adults and not the reverse. This is unlike ‘flu.
Why is PPE not recommended for teachers and children?
Transmission of Covid-19 is usually through droplets; the mainstay of control measures are minimising contact and thorough hand and respiratory hygiene. When these measures are maintained, and symptomatic persons are excluded, the risk is minimal.
Frequently asked questions
Should a child/staff member come to school if a member of their household is unwell?
No. If a member of the child’s household is unwell with COVID-19 symptoms then the child/staff member should isolate for 10 days starting from the day the household member(s) became ill. If the child subsequently develops symptoms than they should isolate for 7 days from the date they developed symptoms. See Stay-at-home-guidance. The household member(s) should be tested within 5 days of symptom onset. If all symptomatic household members test negative, the child/staff member can return to work.
If School is notified by a parent that their child is ill do I need to exclude the other children in their class?
No, classmates and staff can attend school as normal. The child who is ill should stay at home (Stay-at-home-guidance) and be advised to get tested. If the child has any siblings who attend the school they should also be self-isolating at home for 10 days. If the child tests positive for COVID-19, direct and proximity contacts should be excluded for 10 days. (Their bubble contacts.) The school will be contacted by contact tracers to support with contact identification and provision of advice.
Who is considered a contact in a school setting?
A person who wore appropriate PPE or maintained appropriate social distancing (over 2 meters) would not be classed as a contact.
A contact is defined as a person who has had contact (see below) at any time from 48 hours before onset of symptoms (or test if asymptomatic) to 7 days after onset of symptoms (or test):
- a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre) with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), including:
- being coughed on, or
- having a face-to-face conversation, or
- having skin-to-skin physical contact, or
- any contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
- a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) for more than 15 minutes
- a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or in a large vehicle near someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
- people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
- In effect within school a contact would be anybody, children and adults in the same bubble as the infected person.
Which contacts need to self-isolate?
Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive and they had attended the school in the 48 hours prior to developing symptoms, direct and close contacts will be identified and advised regarding self-isolation by a contact tracer.
Please note: The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
Can the siblings of a child who has been excluded because they are a contact of a case attend school?
Yes, other household members of the contact do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
A child/parent reports to us that they have had contact with someone with symptoms – what should we do?
There is no action required of the school. No-one with symptoms should be attending school and anyone who develops symptoms while at school should be isolated and sent home as soon as possible. Schools should regularly remind parents of the government guidance on staying at home and the importance of a household self-isolating if anyone in the household develops symptoms.
If a child has COVID-19 symptoms, gets tested and tests negative, can they return to school even if they still have symptoms?
If the child is NOT a known contact of a confirmed case the child can return to school if the result is negative, provided they feel well and they have not had a fever for 48 hours.
If the child is a contact of a confirmed case they must stay off school for the 10 day isolation period, even if they test negative. This is because they can develop the infection at any point up to day 10 (the incubation period for COVID-19), so if a child tests negative on day 3 they may still go on to develop the infection.
If a child who was a contact of a confirmed case tests negative, can they return to school?
No, the child should complete 10 days of isolation.
If School receives confirmed cases does the school need to close?
The school does not need to close on public health grounds. Schools will generally only need to close if they have staff shortages due to illness or being identified as contacts. It is expected that only the class of a confirmed case will need to be excluded. If there are a number of confirmed cases across different classes and year groups at the same time then the school may be advised to close by the Health Protection Team in consultation with other partners.
How can a parent arrange testing?
The parent can arrange for any child to be tested via NHS UK or by contacting NHS 119 via telephone if they do not have internet access.
Will the school be informed of any test results?
The school will be informed if a child or staff member tests positive as part of NHS Test and Trace. The school will not be informed of any negative results.
How can a staff member get tested?
All education and childcare workers are considered essential workers and can apply for a test if they are symptomatic via https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers.
Can they be tested if they do not have symptoms?
You can request to be tested if you are not showing any symptoms. Please contact 119 and they will advise of a testing site.
We hope that this information is of use to our families.