With the government’s official advice changing constantly in line with the most recent developments, and schools operating under their own individual policies in many cases, parents all over the country are struggling to figure out how to respond if their children are sent home from school due to coronavirus.
Of course, if your child has tested positive for the virus, this means keeping them off school and having them self-isolate for 14 days, along with everyone else in the household. In this situation, you would also need to alert the school, if you hadn’t already.
But what if your child has been sent home because another pupil has tested positive?
Should they self-isolate?
If a child is sent home from school because of a confirmed coronavirus case, either in their bubble or in the school generally, current advice stipulates that they must self-isolate for 14 days, meaning they should not leave home, meet up with friends or have guests over to the house.
Should they get a test?
According to the Education Secretary, your child does not need to take a Covid-19 test unless they are showing symptoms.
Speaking to the Commons Education Select Committee last week, Gavin Williamson said that families whose children get sent home from school due to a case being detected in their bubble should only get tested if they are displaying symptoms.
He commented, “If a child and their contacts have been sent home, it’s not that all those children are sent home should be getting tested. It is only the child that is displaying symptoms as against the whole cohort.”
Can they go back to school if they test negative?
According to the Track and Trace guidance, children who test negative shouldn’t go back to school before the end of their 14 day isolation. According to the guidance, “this is because you may have the virus, but it cannot yet be detected by a test, so you could unknowingly spread the virus if you leave the house.”
Should parents isolate as well?
According to the government’s Track and Trace guidance, other members of the household do not need to self-isolate if a child has been sent home from school. It states: “If you live with other people, they do not need to self-isolate, but they should avoid contact with you as far as possible and follow advice on hygiene.”
Though, as many have pointed out, in the case of young children, it will likely be difficult for family members to avoid contact.
This rule also means, in practice, that siblings or children from the same household who go to the same school might still need to go to school, despite someone in their household having been sent home to self-isolate.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, The Sunderland Echo