Explained: Do you have to send children to school if a parent has Covid?

Covid rules have meant parents have been unable to take their children to school in Suffolk

Covid rules have meant parents have been unable to take their children to school in Suffolk - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Suffolk's students are back at school for the new term but what do parents do if they test positive for coronavirus?

The county has recently reported record case numbers, with more than 10,000 positive tests in a week, forcing people into isolation as schools return.

Teachers have said this has left parents in an awkward position of having to isolate after testing positive, but their children do not.

Current guidance says children and fully-vaccinated adults are not legally required to isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who has Covid, unless they later test positive for the virus themselves.

What do the government rules say?

The government's website on Covid rules says: "Adults who are fully vaccinated and all children and young people aged between five and 18 years and six months identified as a contact of someone with Covid-19 are strongly advised to take a LFD (lateral flow) test every day for seven days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result."

A lateral flow test

Close contacts of Covid cases are advised to take lateral flow tests regularly - Credit: PA

It continues: "If you are aged five years and over and live in the same household as someone with Covid-19, and are not legally required to self-isolate, you are strongly advised to:

  • take an LFD test every day for seven days, or until 10 days after the household member who has Covid-19 started their self-isolation period if this is earlier
  • take this daily LFD test before you leave your home for the first time that day."

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What have teachers said?

Maria Kemble, executive headteacher across the federation of St Edmund’s, St Edmund’s Pre-school and St Joseph’s in Bury St Edmunds, said the schools were taking students' circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

She said students who have no way of getting to school are temporarily allowed to learn remotely.

Mrs Kemble said: "We take everyone's situation individually. Where they can, some families are asking their friends to come to their gate and pick their child up.

"I encourage parents to find a way around it, but I'm also realistic in that in some cases it isn't possible.

"It would be counterproductive otherwise – parents are doing their best."

Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich, said the issue was more likely to affect primary school-age students living in rural areas.

Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich

Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He said: "It's more pertinent in primary schools. At a high school in a rural location, it could be tricky – but in more urban areas, children could walk to school.

"I imagine schools will be sympathetic in the circumstances. We all understand families are going through an awful lot, and it's a very complex situation."

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