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Can my child go to school if I have Covid? UK self-isolation rules if a parent tests positive

It is feared Covid-related staff shortages could cause disruption to children’s learning this school term

Staff absences are expected to rise in schools this term due to the high number of Covid-19 cases across the UK, the Education Secretary has warned.

Pupils returned to classrooms after the festive break last week, but it is feared coronavirus-related absences could cause disruption to children’s learning.

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Staff absences are likely to rise in schools this term due to high Covid cases (Photo: Getty Images)

Nadhim Zahawi told MPs that teaching must remain face-to-face to ensure children have the best learning experience and has called on former and retired teachers to return to schools to help address the shortages.

Ministers have so far resisted implementing widespread closures again, and have instead advised headteachers to consider “combining classes” if schools are short of staff.

But what happens if parents test positive for Covid? Here’s what you need to know about self-isolation rules.

Can my child go to school if I have Covid?

Anyone under the age of 18 year and six months does not have to self-isolate if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

This means that if you test positive, your child can still go into school as normal.

However, guidance states that children should take regular lateral flow tests as a precaution and parents should try to limit their contact with them.

The same rule applies if someone in your child’s class at school tests positive for Covid-19.

Support bubbles have now been scrapped to ensure that entire classes do not have to miss attending school to isolate if one person picks up the virus.

Parents will be notified by NHS Test and Trace if there has been a positive case in their child’s class and will be advised to take a PCR test.

But children are not required to self isolate while waiting for results of this test.

When do children need to self-isolate?

Government guidance states that children should not attend school if:

  • they are showing one or more Covid-19 symptoms
  • they have had a positive test result
  • there are other reasons requiring them to stay at home, for example, they are required to quarantine

The NHS says the main symptoms of Covid are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

A scratchy throat, runny nose, headache, sneezing and fatigue have also been reported as symptoms of the Omicron variant.

If your child has any cold-like symptoms, it may be worth taking a test to check if they have Covid-19.

Anyone who has been fully vaccinated is required to self-isolate from either the day symptoms started, or the day a test was taken if you did not have symptoms, and the next 10 full days.

However, you can leave isolation after seven days if you test negative on a lateral flow test on day six and day seven, 24 hours apart.

Those who are unvaccinated must still self-isolate for the full 10 days if they test positive.

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