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

Guidance advises that parents limit contact with their children if they have Covid

Covid infection levels are still high in the UK with the current wave being driven by the highly infectious Omicron BA.5 variant.

In England, infections have reached their highest level in three months with 3.1 million people estimated to have had the virus in the week to 13 July, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show.

In the other three nations, the picture is described by the ONS as “uncertain”.

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

The latest infection figures come as new polling suggests public concern about Covid has fallen to its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

Around two-thirds of people surveyed (65%) said they are concerned about the risk coronavirus poses to the country, down from 71% in March, according to data by poll company Ipsos.

Some 56% of respondents are concerned about the risk the virus poses to people personally, down from 59%, while 39% are not concerned, up from 36%.

The survey of 2,196 adults in Britain was carried out on 8-9 July at a time when infection levels were already rising.

The findings suggest most people are still prepared to take certain precautions if they know they have tested positive for Covid, with a majority saying they would be unlikely to go into work (61%), use public transport (66%), visit elderly relatives (68%) or go to the shops (60%).

It suggests that while self-isolation is no longer required by law, the majority of people would still stay at home to avoid spreading the virus to others.

But what happens in the event a parent tests positive for Covid and their child needs to attend school? Here’s what you need to know about self-isolation guidance.

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

This means that if you get the virus, your child can still go into school as normal.

When do children need to self-isolate?

Government guidance recommends that you should stay at home and avoid contact with others if you:

  • have any symptoms of Covid, and have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities
  • have tested positive for Covid

If a child or young person aged 18 or under tests positive for Covid, they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for three days. This starts from the day after they did the test.

Children and young people tend to be infectious to others for less time than adults. As such, if they are well and do not have a temperature after three days, there is a much lower risk that they will pass the virus on to others.

What symptoms should I look for?

The NHS says the main symptoms to look out for include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick
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