Schools are set to open in September and all children and young people are expected to return to school. Getting back to school is very important for children and young people’s learning, social skills and emotional wellbeing.
You can read the government guidance on children returning to school.
It’s understandable that some people will be worried about COVID-19. However, schools are putting in place a number of safety measures aimed at protecting children, staff and families and reducing the spread of the virus as more children return to school.
It is also important to remember that most people who do catch COVID-19 will experience mild symptoms and are unlikely to become severely unwell. The risk to children of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 is very low.
For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from COVID-19. If you have a concern about your child returning to school due to specific health conditions,you can talk to your family GP or your child’s school.
As September is approaching, we have put together some guidance for parents and carers to help prepare their child or young person for returning to school.
This guidance is taken from our booklet 'Supporting your child's return to school' which is also available to download in Punjabi, Somali, Polish, Tamil, Urdu, and Arabic. The English version is available to the right of this page.
Alternatively you can translate this page and any other information from this website into any language, by using the Google Translate function on the top right hand side of this page.
We hope you find the information below useful.
On 4 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced a new national lockdown. During the lockdown, schools, and colleges should only allow vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other school and college children and young people will learn remotely until at least the February half term.
Full guidance on who can attend can be found on the government website:
If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable they are advised not to attend school. You can read guidance for shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information. Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
You can read the letter to parents and carers from Judith Finlay, Executive Director Children, Adults and Public Health, which provides key information around drop off and pick up times and messages from Public Health. The letter is also available in multiple languages:
You can read the flowchart for parents/carers to see what you need to do if you, your child or someone in your household displays symptoms of COVID-19 and whether your child should or should not be in school.
This flowchart is also available in multiple languages. You can download all the flowcharts on the right hand side of this page or by clicking below to access the resource.
Update: 14th December
From Mon 14 Dec, the UK self-isolation period will be shortened from 14 days to 10 days. Self-isolation means staying at home. If you have symptoms, you must self isolate and book a test online Testing and tracing for coronavirus (COVID-19) - NHS (www.nhs.uk) or by calling 119.
The symptoms flowchart above has been updated to reflect this update.
When your child starts talking about the virus, school, friends and getting out and about - you can use this opportunity to offer reassurance and encouragement.
- Openly discuss returning to school and that the school day will look and feel a bit different.
- Talk about what your child is looking forward to on their return such as seeing their friends and being able to interact with their teachers.
Time for Us pack- Produced by the Mental Health Foundation and aimed at parents supporting children aged 11-17. Activities to get adults and children talking about their feelings.
Family Links- Offer numerous resource packs to support conversations within families.
Check your school website as this is where all the up-to-date information will be.
If you are not sure, find out when your child is expected to return and what the expectations are for arrival.
Do what you would usually do during the summer break to get ready for school, involving your child in the process wherever possible; such as:
- Getting together any equipment they need, such as a school bag and stationery.
- Trying on their school uniform, and replacing any items that no longer fit.
Schools may have made changes to picking up and dropping off times and it’s important that your child arrives on time. If your child’s journey or route to school will be different, such as cycling for the first time, go for a practice so you know how long it will take and to give your child some advice on safety. For road safety resources, please see our Travelling to school section below.
If you and your family have gone on any holidays during the summer, make sure you are back in good time to start the new term in September. If you need to take leave of absence for an exceptional circumstance, you must apply to your school in the usual way
If you have relaxed your good eating habits during lockdown, now is the time to try to introduce a more healthy and balanced diet for the whole family.
• Limit food and drink high in sugar. These can lead to poor concentration, changes in mood and restless sleep.
• Encourage your child to drink plenty of water to prevent headaches and feeling tired.
Change 4 Life- Offer healthy receipes for the family to enjoy, and advice on healthy eating.
Healthy eating for teens- Guidance produced by NHS aimed at supporting teens with having a balanced diet.
If your child has not been outside as much during lockdown, gradually start:
- Going out for walks and to the park
- Trying out the walk to school
- Meeting up with friends and family (within the social distancing rules)
- Returning to any sports or activities your child enjoys.
Helping your child establish routines and good sleep times will have a very positive effect on their wellbeing. Encourage them to read books for a bit of quiet time and relaxation. Or if your child is too young, you can read more to them and discuss the stories. Regular exercise helps too.
If your child is worried or anxious about schoolwork, reassure your child that their teachers are going to be very happy to see them again and are ready to support everyone
Young Minds Provide information, advice and guidance to support young people's mental health and wellbeing. They also provide information specifically for parents, including supporting your child as they return to school.
Family Lives have produced some supporting advice to help your child manage their feelings if they are feeling anxious.
You can also read the government guidance for parents on supporting your child's mental health and wellbeing. This guidance is available in multiple languages.
Children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) will also be expected to return to school in September. Schools will continue to provide an inclusive education for children and young people with SEND making use of resources available in Ealing as well as making any reasonable adjustments to ensure access to learning is supported.
Your child’s school will work with you to ensure your child has a smooth as possible transition into school.
Letter from Minister Ford to children and young people with SEND, their families and carers, and those who work to support them- dated 2nd September, this letter provides advice and guidance on several issues, including behaviour, risk assessments, face coverings, specialist and visiting practitioners, mental health and wellbeing, aerosol generating procedures and hospital schools, as well as linking to some of the support available to help.
Returning to school after a period of absence - developed by Whole School SEND to equip families with questions to ask of schools to make the return to school from a period of absence as successful as possible.
Top tips for preparing your child- The Royal College of Occupational Therapists have produced some top tips for parents, covering how to help support children who may find changes difficult.
Back to school advice- Contact , the national charity for families with disabled children, have produced some advice for parents and carers of children with SEND. Find out answers to common concerns and about support available to help prepare your child for school.
Back to school checklist- Things you can do before September to make sure it’s safe for your child to return to school.
Returning to school after the coronavirus lockdown- The National Deaf Children's Society have provided a checklist of what to expect and questions to ask your child's education setting for parents of children who are deaf.
Social Stories- National Autistic Society have some guidance on how to make your own social story which you can use to help children understand the return to school.
Back to school toolkit (Visuals)-Widgit have produced some visuals which you may use to assist with your child's return to school after a disruption to their normal day-to-day lives.
Returning to school- Support and strategies for managing behaviour and worry- Watch Contact's Webinar which focusses on returning to school. They talk through support strategies such as visual structure and accessible information, managing rising emotions and adjusting expectations.
Your child’s school will tell you what protective measures will be in place for September, such as:
- Frequent handwashing
- Regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment
- Desks and chairs may be arranged differently in class
- Children may be offered different arrival times at the school gate to avoid crowding.
Seek further guidance from your child’s school if you need to.
Your child should try to walk, cycle or use a scooter to get to and from school and avoid using public transport if possible. This is a healthy option and a contribution to protecting our environment.
If your child is over the age of 11 and needs to use public transport they will be required to wear a cloth face covering / mask. They should dispose or store this safely when they arrive at school. You can read the government guidance on wearing a cloth face covering / mask if you are unsure of whether or not you or your child should wear one, as there are some exemptions.
If you are dropping off or picking up your child, you should ensure that you keep a distance from others outside of school and avoid gathering with other parents / carers.
Transport to school and other places of education: autumn term 2020- Government guidance on transport to school.
How to make a cloth face covering- Find out how to make a cloth face covering.
Exemption cards- If you exempt from wearing a face covering/mask and would like to use an exemption card you can use the PDF attachments on this page. This is a personal choice and not required by law. These can be downloaded onto a phone, or printed out and carried with you/your child.
Back to school travel guidance- Includes how to safety get to school if you are travelling by car or public transport.
Living Streets primary school resources- Walking activities for primary school pupils and their families.
Living Streets family walk to school kit - Downloadable kit with step by step tips for stress free walks and safer streets.
Think- Tales of the road- An interactive resource pack to help children and young people think about road safety including keeping safe whilst walking and cycling.
Ready Set Ride- Videos and resources to help with teaching children how to ride a bike, making sure they are set up correctly and safe as possible.
Tfl Safer Journey Planning Video- Aimed at pupils going into secondary school, this video contains tips on how you can ensure your journey to school is safe, whether you are walking, cycling or using public transport.
There are a number of things you can do to help reduce the spread of COVID-19:
- If your child, or anyone in your household, develops symptoms of COVID-19 (a fever, a new consistent cough or a loss or change in taste or smell), or is identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, do not send your child to school. Stay at home and arrange for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 to get a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. You can follow the flowchart for parents and carers for more details on what to do.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water.
- Keep your distance from people who are outside your household or support bubble, limit social gatherings and avoid crowded places.
- Wear a cloth face covering / mask on public transport, in shops and in indoor settings where you come across people you don’t usually meet.
Flowchart for parents/carers- Find out what to do if you, your child or anyone in your household has symptoms. Updated on 14th December to reflect recent guidance.
Judith Finlay Letter to parents- Information about congestion outside of schools and public health messages
Public Health England Letter- Letter to parents and guardians about testing dated 23rd September
NHS advice - Guidance to help parents understand when their child can and cannot attend school
We will list links to information on any upcoming workshops or events below which may help with supporting your child's return to school.
Contact Family Workshops- Contact the national charity for families of disabled children run numerous workshops to support parents /carers of children with SEND. Topics include helping your child sleep and encouraging positive behaviour.
Ealing Parenting Service- The Ealing Parenting service have been running online workshops covering different topics, including helping your child recognise low anxiety and mood.
Follow us on our social media to keep up to date with any upcoming events and useful information:
Ealing Family Information Service: https://www.facebook.com/EalingFIS/