Coronavirus: Schools

Schools have re-opened in September. 

The government has published guidance to the sector, which sets out a range of protective measures to ensure education settings remain safe places, including: 

  • reducing the size of classes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others
  • staggered break and lunch times, as well as drop offs and pick ups
  • increasing the frequency of cleaning, reducing the used of shared items and utilising outdoor space
  • the wearing of face masks

Read the full guidance

The Government will continue to work closely with the sector in the build-up to and following pupils’ return. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies advising the Government has a high degree of confidence that the severity of the disease in children is lower than in adults and a moderately high degree of confidence that children aged up to 11 are less susceptible to it.

Everybody with coronavirus symptoms is now available for testing. This will enable children and staff to get back to school if they test negative, and if they test positive a test and trace approach can be taken. Where a setting has a positive case, Public Health England will advise on the appropriate course of action, and the relevant group of people with whom the individual has mixed closely should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

Watford Schools

Returning to school in September

Re-opening schools – guidance for parents and carers (GOV.UK). Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.

Information for key workers parents (and other eligible groups)

  • Free school meals – schools are now closed but children currently eligible for free school meals should have been contacted about a voucher scheme. Contact HertsHelp for further advice or assistance.
  • In year admissions – with schools closed, there may be a delay in offering a place.
  • School appeals – appeals will be heard by telephone conferencing. Some processes and hearings may be delayed. Email for updates on your appeal.
  • All child work permits have been suspended, and we'll not be issuing any new work permits or child performance licences until further notice.
  • YC Hertfordshire access points have now re-opened for face-to-face advice and support, but young people can still phone or email to speak to a Personal Adviser. YC Hertfordshire youth work projects in young people’s centres will be resuming in September 2020.
  • Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) - visit the SEND Local Offer for updates.

Additional Information

If you think you are a key worker, you should confirm with your employer that, based on business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require. Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.

Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.

Registered early years providers, including childminders, private schools and sixth forms should also follow this guidance. We will provide financial support for these settings as required.

Where possible, the government encourages settings to also look after key workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout school holidays. 

Free School Meals

Low-income families whose children are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support, even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak. Schools can either provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on government advice. It is up to headteachers to decide which option is best for the school. 

The Government has also confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

Click here to find out whether your child is eligible for free school meals and, therefore, the voucher replacement scheme. Any child already receiving free school meals may still qualify. 

Limiting spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings

Education settings can help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reminding everyone of the public health advice.

Staff, children, pupils, students and families should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.

Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products. Posters, leaflets and other materials are available.

Cleaning and Waste

See guidance from the government on cleaning and waste disposal.

Tools for use in childcare and educational settings

There is a dedicated helpline number for educational settings – please call 0800 046 8687 for any specific question not covered on this page.

Public Health England has created resource materials that contain public health advice about how you can help stop the spread of viruses, like those that cause coronavirus (COVID-19), by practising good respiratory and hand hygiene. To access, download and share this information, you will need to register for an account which only takes a couple of minutes.

Use e-Bug resources to teach pupils about hygiene.