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Back to school, but not quite back to normal

Published: 26 August 2021

Back to school this June

Are you ready for your children to go back to school?

You've probably already been thinking about their uniform, school shoes, books and stationery, but are you up-to-date on the latest COVID guidelines?

The summer holidays may be behind us, but COVID isn't. Let's continue to do everything we can to protect ourselves and others.

So, what's changed since children were last in school?

  • Face coverings are no longer advised for staff or pupils in school, although they're still recommended in crowded spaces such as on school buses
  • Schools are maintaining protective measures such as testing, ventilation and extra hygiene precautions to help keep children and staff safe and minimise disruption to face-to-face education
  • Any pupil under 18 who tests positive for COVID will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to isolate
    • The child - or their parents - will be asked to provide information about close contacts at school and elsewhere, and their contact details, if known
    • Under-18s who are named as close contacts will be asked to take a PCR test, but will not have to self-isolate unless they themselves test positive
    • All PCR test results should be reported, even if they're negative
  • Secondary school pupils and staff are being asked to continue self-testing twice a week, beginning a week before the start of term. This advice will be reviewed at the end of September
    • As pupils will potentially mix with lots of other people during the summer holidays, all secondary school pupils should receive 2 on-site lateral flow tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn term
  • The system of 'bubbles' - where children only mix within a fixed year or class group - has ended, as has the need to stagger start and finish times. However, it's important to note that some schools may still have these systems in place to support testing
  • If a school has a COVID outbreak, additional measures will be introduced, quickly and for as long as they are needed.

Worried about returning to school?

If you or your children are feeling anxious about the return to school now that many COVID restrictions have lifted, you're not alone. It's normal to feel nervous about going back to school after such an uncertain 18 months. Guidance and support are available, and it's important to remember that there are easy ways to protect ourselves and others.

Young people can access emotional wellbeing and mental health support from and the Healthy Surrey website, while adults can also go to Healthy Surrey.

COVID Vaccines and young people

12 to 15 year olds

GPs are inviting at-risk children aged between 12 and 15 years old, who are clinically vulnerable to COVID or live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus, with 30,000 children in this age group already protected.

More information here JCVI statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years: 4 August 2021 - GOV.UK

The Government are still working out the roll-out mechanism of the COVID vaccine to the wider population of 12 to 15 year olds and we'll provide updated information when this has been confirmed.

16 to 17 year olds

Surrey Heartlands will be inviting those aged 16+ to have their first dose COVID Vaccine in the coming weeks as per Government guidance - All young people aged 16 and 17 in England to be offered vaccine by next week - GOV.UK . Texts will be sent initially with details on how to book an appointment.

The NHS are looking to vaccinate these group as quickly as possible ahead of their return to school.

Anyone in this age group can now find their nearest centre through the 'grab a jab' NHS online walk-in finder web page, with more sites becoming available every day.

Play your part to keep Surrey safe

Although many restrictions have lifted in the UK, there are still guidelines in place to protect us. You and your children can play your part by continuing to practice key safety measures, such as:

  • testing regularly
  • having the vaccine (if eligible)
  • wearing a face mask in crowded spaces
  • washing your hands regularly
  • isolating if you test positive for COVID

As life starts to get back to normal, let's continue to do everything we can to keep Surrey safe.

For more information on COVID guidance, visit our Update on COVID guidance Surrey Matters article.

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