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Luton Borough Council

Schools and educational establishments

 
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Latest information on schools

Pupils returned to school from the beginning of the autumn term.

Returning to school is vital for:
  • children’s learning and education
  • their mental wellbeing, including socialising with friends
  • their wider development 

Guidance for parents and guardians on booking tests for children

The Chief Nurse and Interim Chief Medical Officer for NHS Test and Trace have written to parents and guardians of children with guidance on when to book tests for children.

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Measures in schools

Luton schools have a wide range of strong measures in place to reduce the risk of infection and to create a safe environment for your child. These are specific to each school and include some or all of:
 
  • different classes coming back at different times to help children get used to the new routines
  • changes in pick up and drop off times
  • increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces and equipment
  • frequent hand washing with soap and water
  • ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ – encouraging good respiratory hygiene (sneeze or cough into a tissue and immediately put it in a bin)
  • grouping pupils in ‘bubbles’ to minimise mixing; in primary schools  a ‘bubble’ may be a whole class and in secondary schools it may be a whole year group
  • one way systems and allocated areas of the school building for different bubbles

Together we can help reduce the risk of infection by:

  • not sending your child to school if they have coronavirus symptoms (persistent cough or high temperature or loss/change in sense of smell or taste)
  • complying with the measures put in place at your child’s school
  • following local and national guidance including frequent hand-washing, regularly cleaning
  • frequently touched surfaces and social distancing
It is now compulsory for school-age children to attend school. If you're worried about your child attending school please discuss this with the school in the first instance.
 
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Risk to children

As per the latest national guidance, children have a lower risk of getting infected with coronavirus, and evidence shows that even when infected they usually only develop a mild infection and are less likely to pass it on to other children. There's no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults.
 
 
For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from Covid-19.

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Frequently asked questions

We've created frequently asked questions to address some of the concerns raised by parents and carers and to correct misinformation which is circulating on social media and WhatsApp groups.
 
To ensure you are receiving the correct facts please get your information from official sources such as:
If you still have any concerns please discuss this with the school in the first instance. You can also email questions to [email protected] and we will be regularly updating this web page with latest information.
 
Each tab below contains questions relating to that particular subject. Expand for more information.
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Previously parents had the choice to keep children at home, is that still the case?

No. We understand that some pupils, parents and carers may be anxious about schools reopening to all pupils, particularly if your child has been shielding or a member of your household is clinically vulnerable.

However, Luton schools have a wide range of robust measures in place to reduce the risk of infection and to create a safe environment for children.

It is now compulsory for school-age children to attend school from the autumn term. Parents and carers have a legal duty to ensure that their child attends school regularly. If you have any concerns about your child returning please discuss this with the school.

What should I do if my child is ill or is unable to attend school?

If your child is not well enough to attend school, please follow the school’s normal procedure to report the absence. If your child is unable to attend school because they are self-isolating the school will arrange for remote learning and it will not be recorded as an absence.

I’m confused by bubbles. What does this mean?

‘Bubbles’ are a way of socially distancing groups of children to reduce the numbers of close contacts and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. Schools will create bubble sizes that are appropriate and safe for their setting. It means that children within the bubble can work and play together without the need for social distancing – this is particularly important for young children.

Some schools are able to arrange bubbles for each class group, with little or no contact with any other bubble, for example in most primary schools. Sometimes, this isn’t possible, for example with older children in secondary schools, so schools are creating bubbles that cover a whole school year.

Luton schools have the safety of pupils and staff as their number one priority and each school will have its own plans in place and in particular create bubble sizes that are appropriate and safe.

What happens if someone in a bubble tests positive for coronavirus?

If a pupil student or member of staff within a school tests positive for coronavirus, the school will work with public health experts to identify any people they have be in close contact with who will need to self-isolate. This will usually mean the bubble are asked to stay at home for 14 days. The practice of creating bubbles and requiring children to self-isolate where there are confirmed cases is designed to protect our children and staff as they return to school.

Only people who have been in close contact with the individual who tested positive need to isolate; this will usually mean students or staff in a bubble. If a child in a bubble is asked to self-isolate, their siblings in another bubble can still come to school, so long as they don’t have any symptoms. Only people who have symptoms should be tested, even if they are asked to isolate.

A child has tested positive in one of the classes in my child’s year, will all the children in the same school year have to self-isolate?

It depends on whether the school has organised individual classes as a bubble or a whole school year as a bubble. Schools follow Public Health guidance for each individual case.

Headteachers in Luton are following the government guidelines, if an individual within a school tests positive for coronavirus the school immediately reports to Luton Council Public Health and/or Public Health England and follows the subsequent guidance provided. The individual must self-isolate for 10 days and their whole bubble must self-isolate for 14 days and other close contacts may also be asked to self-isolate. Only people who have symptoms should be tested, even if they are asked to isolate.

If a student has to self-isolate, the school will provide support for learning from home and it won’t be marked as an absence.

What happens if my child develops coronavirus symptoms at school?

If a child begins to feel unwell with coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms while at school, safety measures will be put in place including the following:

  • schools will contact the parent or carer to collect the child and to arrange for them to have a test
  • while the child is awaiting collection they will be moved to a room or an area where they can be kept least two metres away from others, after the child has left the school, all areas where they have been will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
  • the child will need to self-isolate for 10 days or until a negative test result has been received and people who they live with will need to self-isolate for 14 days, only people who have symptoms should be tested, even if they are asked to isolate
  • if the child tests negative, they can return to school and the people they live with can end their self-isolation, providing that the child is well enough to go to school
  • if the child tests positive, the rest of their class or bubble will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days, however household members of the class will not need to self-isolate unless the child they live with develops symptoms

I’m having difficulty booking a test online, should I call 111?

Please do not call 111, as they cannot arrange a test for you. We appreciate that some people are experiencing problems booking Covid-19 tests, this is a national problem. However, if tests are not available near where you live, please keep checking back on the NHS website as new test slots are released throughout the day. You should only call NHS 111 if you need urgent medical care and help.

Will schools start and finish at the normal times?

To reduce children mixing, some schools may apply different drop off and pick up times for different classes or year groups. Please speak to the school or visit their website to find out details of the arrangements they have put in place.

Will breakfast and after school clubs continue?

The welfare and safety of all pupils and staff will be a priority for schools, so they will need to consider how they can operate breakfast and after school clubs while ensuring they can still have the robust measures in place to ensure a safe environment for all.

Please check with your child’s school for details of the arrangements which have been put in place.

My child has a runny nose, sore throat and a cough, should I keep them at home and book a test?

At this time of the year, it is common for children to have cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, earache or a sore throat without a fever. If your child has these symptoms but is otherwise well, they can still attend school. If your child has any of the symptoms of Covid-19, they should stay at home for 10 days and get tested:

  • a high temperature – this means they feel hot to touch on their chest or back
  • a new, persistent cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if they usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed they can’t smell or taste anything or they tell you that things smell or taste different to normal

Can a school insist on my child regularly using hand sanitiser throughout the day?

Children are washing their hands regularly throughout the day. Schools are also providing hand sanitiser as this is faster and will keep pupils in class for longer. If you do not wish your child to use hand sanitiser, they will use soap and water to wash their hands for 20 seconds.

Can I refuse my child from having their temperature taken at school?

If your child has a temperature, you should not send them to school. Taking children’s temperature is not part of the daily routine at school , but some schools may take a pupil’s temperature if they suspect they have a fever. If this confirms the pupil has a fever, you will be contacted to take them home. If it shows they do not have a fever, they will be able to remain in school as long as they feel well. If you do not wish your child to have their temperature taken, and the school suspects they have a fever, your child will be sent home. If your child returns to school but is still displaying signs of a fever and the school is are not able to verify otherwise, they will be sent home again.

Can schools undertake Covid-19 testing on pupils?

No – schools do not test pupils for Covid-19.

The government has given schools a small number of home test kits which they can give to you so you can test your child at home.

If I have not given my consent for my child’s details being shared as part of the NHS Test and Trace process and the school shares the information are they are in breach of GDPR?

The school is legally able to share data under GDPR article 6 and 9 (public task and public health). Further, the school is required under notices issued by the secretary of state in relation to control of patient information (COPI) to share data in relation to Covid-19. The school will ensure however that all information is treated sensitively, kept secure and we will only share the minimum required to meet legislative requirements and for the safety of our staff and pupils.

If a child tests positive within the school community, we are required by law to engage with the national Test and Trace process. In this situation Luton Council Public Health and/or Public Health England will support the school in identifying any other individuals who would be required to self-isolate and they would contact those individuals accordingly. It is important that families comply with this to help stop the spread of the virus. The school will arrange remote learning for all children who are having to self-isolate.

I have heard a rumour that schools are allowed to detain children on school premises if they suspect they have Covid-19, is this true?

If a child begins to feel unwell with coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms while at school, safety measures will be put in place including the following:

  • schools will contact the parent or carer to collect the child and to arrange for them to have a test
  • while the child is awaiting collection they will be moved to a room or an area where they can be kept least two metres away from others, after the child has left the school, all areas where they have been will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected

Can I stop the school from teaching my child about Covid-19, I’m worried they will find it upsetting?

Schools feels this is an important topic at the present time to educate pupils about, and will do so with the greatest regard to their mental health. Teachers are therefore likely to speak to classes, assemblies and groups about Covid-19 on occasion.

Can a school vaccinate my child without my consent?

No. Schools would not vaccinate any pupil without the consent of a parent first.

I’ve heard rumours that whole classes have tested positive

Sadly there are people deliberately spreading fake news on social media and WhatsApp groups.

To ensure you are receiving the correct facts please get your information from official sources such as:

You are putting my child in danger by reopening schools

It is now compulsory for all school-age children to attend school.

Keeping children and staff safe is the number one priority for schools and they have put robust measures in place to reduce the risk of infection and create a safe environment for your child.

The government has recently introduced additional restrictions such as the ‘rule of 6’ where by law you must not meet with people from other households socially in groups of more than six. These restrictions aim to help stop the spread of the virus and to ensure children CAN continue to go to school. It is important that we follow government guidance and stick to the rules during and outside school times.

When do schools reopen?

Schools have opened to pupils from Tuesday 1 September. They may invite children from different classes or year groups to return to school on different days to allow children to get use to the new routines.

Schools will contact parents directly to inform them of their return to school arrangements.

Please contact your school or view the school website for further information.

Why is my school opening on a different date to other schools in my area?

The council has been working in partnership with headteachers to determine the best way to welcome children back to schools. A smooth and safe start to the school year is the number one priority, therefore individual schools have decided how and when to open.

In some schools different classes or year groups are returning to school on different days to allow children to get use to the new routines.

Is it safe for my child to return to school?

Yes. Luton schools have been open throughout the Covid-19 crisis until the end of the summer term and have seen no transmission of the virus between children.

Evidence shows that children have a lower risk of getting infected with coronavirus and that even when infected they usually only develop a mild infection and are less likely to pass it on to others.

Keeping children and staff safe is the number one priority for schools and they have put robust measures in place to reduce the risk of infection and create a safe environment for your child.

Risk assessments have been conducted and health and safety policies and practices have been reviewed to allow the necessary measures to be in place to ensure everyone’s safety.

Luton is not currently one of the listed areas where face coverings are mandatory in all secondary schools and further education settings. Individual schools can take their own decisions.

We have advised schools as per the latest government guidance. Students and parents can speak to their school for more information on how this applies to them.

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Further information

See government guidance for full opening of schools, return to school flyer translations in 6 languages ​are now available to download.

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A message from Councill​or Aslam Khan, portfolio holder for education and skills, on returning to school in September

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Open letter on Luton school returns

An open letter​ to Luton parents and carers ahead of schools opening full time from 2 September 2020.

 

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© 2020 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ