Since March 2022 when the final Covid restrictions were lifted, the UK Health and Security Agency (UKHSA) has advised that COVID-19 should be managed like other respiratory infections, such as flu. There are no longer specific rules relating to COVID-19 in schools.
Respiratory infections are common in school-age children, particularly during the winter months. Symptoms can be caused by several respiratory infections including the common cold, COVID-19 and RSV. Students with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend school as normal. Students who have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and who have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to school are advised to stay at home and return to school when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend. All students with respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.
Although regular testing for COVID-19 is no longer recommended for most children, those at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 remain eligible for free tests to use if they develop symptoms, along with NHS and adult social care staff and those in other high-risk settings. For children who test positive for COVID-19, the advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for three days.
As well as following UKHSA guidance, all schools should have in place baseline infection prevention and control measures that will help to manage the spread of infection:
- Reinforcing good hygiene practices such as regular hand washing and cleaning.
- Ensuring occupied spaces are well-ventilated and let fresh air in.
- Ensuring all eligible groups are enabled and supported to take up the offer of national vaccination programmes including COVID-19 and flu
For further information, please see:
- What are the latest rules around COVID-19 in schools, colleges, nurseries and other education settings?
- Living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19
- People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19
- COVID-19 vaccination: resources for children and young people aged 12 to 17 years
- COVID-19: guidance for people whose immune system means they are at higher risk
Student wellbeing support from Mind
Mind, our national charity for mental health and wellbeing, have produced a very timely and helpful webpage for students and young people. If you are a student and are feeling worried or anxious about the coronavirus and all the uncertainty this is placing on you, we'd encourage you to take a look through this page :