Schools and childcare information during Coronavirus

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Following the Prime Ministers announcement on Monday 22 February the following guidelines will apply for those attending schools colleges, nursery and childcare provision.

Attendance at schools and colleges

From 8 March 2021, children and young people will start to return to face-to-face classroom-based learning in all schools and colleges.

Primary pupils will return on Monday 8 March. Secondary school pupils and college students will return on or after the week of 8 March. Secondary schools and colleges may stagger the return throughout the week to allow for the introduction of rapid asymptomatic testing. Check for any staggered return dates – and for staggered start and finish times. These can be found on your school website or in correspondence.

All children and young people will be able to return, unless they or a member of their household has symptoms of Coronavirus (Covid-19) or tests positive for the virus. Children and young people must stay at home and follow the guidance if advised to do so by their school or college or by the NHS Test and Trace service

Further guidance can be found at GOV.UK Guidance on return to school, college and university.


A very small number of children and young people are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Doctors reviewed Clinically Extremely Vulnerable cases based on revised guidance in late 2020. Those children and young people who remain Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, as determined by their GP or clinician, are asked to shield and should not attend school or college in person but follow the guidance.

Children and young people who live in the same household as someone who is Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and is shielding should go to school and college for face-to-face learning.

Staying safe in school and college

Secondary pupils and college students should wear a face covering in school and college where social distancing cannot be maintained, including in classrooms, from 8 March. Young people with a medical exemption are excluded from this requirement. This is a temporary extra measure.

Rapid asymptomatic testing will be provided for pupils and students attending secondary school or college from the week of 8 March. This will help to prevent the spread of the virus by helping to quickly identify cases of coronavirus in pupils or staff not showing any symptoms.

Rapid asymptomatic testing is not a replacement for infection prevention and control measures schools and colleges, pupils and their households must continue to follow. Remember: HANDS – FACE – SPACE.

Schools and colleges will continue to follow strict coronavirus guidance. This includes social distancing between bubbles or cohorts, one-way systems, enhanced cleaning and hand-washing and some staggered start and finish times.

Staying safe outside school and college

It is vital to follow the Government guidance when outside of the controlled school or college environment.

When travelling to school, college or nursery, remember HANDS – FACE – SPACE. Consider dropping and picking up children away from the school gate.Shape

Continue to follow the national guidance to help protect your household, your community and the NHS.

Symptom-free testing for families

Undertaking regular, rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing helps reduce transmission of the virus. Parents and other adults in households with children at school or college, who do not have symptoms, can now access regular, rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. This includes childcare and support bubbles.

Tests are fast, easy and completely free. Find out how a household, childcare or support bubble can get twice-weekly symptom-free testing at COVID-19 Testing for households and bubbles of school pupils and of staff.

Children of critical workers

Children of critical workers and children with additional needs, who have attended face-to-face learning this term should continue to attend school and college in the usual way.

For more details visit the GOV.UK website Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings - GOV.UK (

Children with additional needs

Children and young people who are assessed as being in need under the Children Act 1989 section 17 - including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child – should continue to attend face-to-face learning in school or college.

Children and young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) should continue to attend face-to-face learning.

Children and young people who have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including by children's social care services) and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance, should also attend face-to-face. This includes care leavers.

For more details visit GOV.UK Critical workers and vulnerable children.

Special Schools and Alternative Provision Providers

Special Schools, Alternative Provision and special post-16 education providers will continue to welcome and encourage pupils to attend their learning face-to-face. Specialist settings, including alternative provision, which have remained open to the majority of children and young people throughout the lockdown, will work with their secondary school students and their families to agree the most appropriate way for them to access testing.

Nursery and childcare

Nurseries and childcare providers remain open as usual for early years education and care, except in rare potential cases. Look out for any changes your local provider might be required to make.

Check your eligibility for funded places or benefits for a 2, 3 or 4 year old. Or if your employment, working hours or household income have changed, also update your details and check your eligibility for funded entitlements for early education and childcare.

Out of School Clubs and Childcare

Wraparound childcare (including before and after-school clubs provided by schools and childminders) and other children's activities can restart from 8 March for all children where it is needed to enable parents or carers to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group.

Vulnerable children can attend these regardless of circumstance. Under-18 sport will be able to take place at school as part of educational provision, or as part of wraparound care, but should not otherwise take place at this time.

Free School Meals provision

Food vouchers will be provided by Surrey County Council via schools, colleges and nurseries to support families with a benefits related eligibility for their child to free school meals, during the Easter holidays 2021.

If you find you are struggling financially during the Coronavirus crisis or you are worried about providing for your family, find out more about COVID financial support.

Financial support for those on low income if asked to self-isolate or looking after a child who needs to self-isolate

If you're asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or you are looking after a child who needs to self-isolate and you're on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, you may be entitled to a payment of £500. This is provided via your local district or borough council under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. The scheme will run until 31 March 2021.

More information about the scheme can be found on the web pages Test and Trace Support Scheme Financial Claiming.

Mental Wellbeing

Transitioning back to school or college can be worrying for children and young people, and for their families and carers. This is understandable. It is important to remember there are support and advice is available.

To find support for an adult or a young person's emotional wellbeing and mental health, including self-help resources and details on where to get more help, visit Mental wellbeing - Healthy Surrey.