This area of our website is designed to bring you lots of useful information. Information is provided in drop down menus below. You can also use the search button located top right of your screen.
General Covid 19 information
- New loss of taste or smell
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle pain
- Multiple times a day, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness.
- Stay home from work or school until you are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours and without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medications.
- Seek medical attention if you have reason to believe you have been exposed to coronavirus or influenza. Call your healthcare provider before visiting a healthcare facility.
- You play an important role in stopping the spread of germs
Who's at higher risk from coronavirus
- high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- moderate risk (clinically vulnerable)
People at high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)People at high risk from coronavirus include people who:
- have had an organ transplant
- are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy
- are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer
- are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)
- have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
- have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking immunosuppressant medicine
- have been told by a doctor they have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)
- have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)
- are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids or immunosuppressant medicine)
- have a serious heart condition and are pregnant
What to do if you're at high riskIf you're at high risk from coronavirus, you were advised to take extra steps to protect yourself until 1 August 2020. This was called shielding. In England, you're no longer advised to shield. But there are still things you can do to protect yourself and others. You can also still get some support.
People at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable)People at moderate risk from coronavirus include people who:
- are 70 or older
- have a lung condition that's not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)
- have heart disease (such as heart failure)
- have diabetes
- have chronic kidney disease
- have liver disease (such as hepatitis)
- have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy)
- have a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections
- are taking medicine that can affect the immune system (such as low doses of steroids)
- are very obese (a BMI of 40 or above)
- are pregnant
What to do if you're at moderate riskIf you're at moderate risk from coronavirus, you can go out to work (if you cannot work from home) and for things like getting food or exercising. But you should try to stay at home as much as possible.
If you're pregnant, you may be unsure how coronavirus (COVID-19) could affect you, your baby and your pregnancy care.
Pregnancy and your riskThere's no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from coronavirus. But pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution. This is because pregnant women can sometimes be more at risk from viruses like flu. It's not clear if this happens with coronavirus. But because it's a new virus, it's safer to include pregnant women in the moderate-risk group. It may be possible for you to pass coronavirus to your baby before they are born. But when this has happened, the babies have got better. There's no evidence coronavirus causes miscarriage or affects how your baby develops in pregnancy.
- Staying safe from coronavirus and reducing the risk of infection
- Supporting a person with dementia at home during coronavirus
- Activity ideas during coronavirus for people with dementia
- Looking after your mental health during coronavirus
- Shopping during coronavirus for food and other essentials
- Supporting a person with dementia who gets coronavirus
- Supporting a person with dementia through coronavirus from a distance
- Support through coronavirus for a person with dementia living alone
- Safeguarding people affected by dementia during coronavirus
What can we do at home to try and look after ourselves (mentally and physically)?It’s important to be informed about the virus, but this may prove overwhelming to both you and the person with dementia. Reducing the amount of information you receive from the TV, radio or phone can be beneficial for your mental health. Looking out for updated guidance from the NHS and the government at certain times of the day can help to reduce anxiety. If possible, set up different areas around your home so that you can move from activity to activity; watch favourite films and musicals in the living room; listen to the radio in the kitchen; do jigsaw puzzles at the table; take walks around the garden, if you can. Go outside, ideally into your garden to limit contact with other people. Finding things to do outside or simply sitting in whatever sunshine we get will help. Fresh air and green space will help lift the spirits and also provide some stimulation. If you can, plant up a few pots with seeds or flowers that can be placed near the windows. If you have a garden shed, there may be some projects in there you can try – like making a bird feeder. However if your relative with dementia needs a change in scenery after long periods around the house, you could go to a local park ensuring you take social distancing into account. Ask friends and relatives to bring you films, puzzles, music, games – anything you think the person with dementia might like to do. They can leave these outside the front door for you to maintain social distancing guidelines.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do
Stay at homeOnly go outside for food, health reasons or work (where this absolutely cannot be done from home)
- Stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- Anyone can spread the virus.
Understanding CoronavirusBelow is a list of links to advice and information to help you understand Coronavirus and what you need to do during this time. Easyread information form Public Health Easyread information on what is Coronavirus from Inclusion North Ideas for exercise, cooking tips and activities while staying in your home Mencap website has a dedicated section on the Coronavirus How to keep informed and in touch during self-isolation Information on handwashing The BBC has some up to date information on their website
For people receiving care and support in HullHull City Council Adult Social Care are working closely with all services and providers that deliver your care and support in order that essential services can continue to be delivered, and to find alternative solutions where required. This is an evolving situation which may involve us changing what we do, how we do it and how we support you. We, or your care provider, will always contact you to inform you about any planned changes and you will receive regular communications from us over the coming weeks. There is lots of information and advice about the Corona virus, for example who is most at risk and how to keep yourself safe and well. We appreciate that this may be a worrying time for you and we will do our best to ensure that you are assisted with understanding the most up to date government advice and information. It is important that you access only official sources for accurate guidance and information. For health information about the symptoms of coronavirus and what to do if you think you are displaying symptoms please do not visit your GP but access online information on the NHS website using th eink below More information here If you are unable to access online information please ring 111 for advice. There are lots of online government publications which can be found in full on the gov.uk website at the web address below Find out more here The important ones to take note of are:
- Guidance on social distancing for vulnerable people, and
- Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus
Who’s eligible to receive supporting services from Volunteer Responders?You’re eligible for support if:
- You have ever been advised to shield by a health professional.
- You are vulnerable for another reason, (for instance, due to disability, pregnancy, aged over 70, you have a long-term condition such as Parkinson's or epilepsy, or are vulnerable due to a mental health condition).
- You have caring responsibilities.
- You are self-isolating because you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms, or you’ve been in contact with someone who has.
- You have been instructed to self-isolate by the ‘Test and Trace’ service, because you’ve been near someone infected.
- You are self-isolating ahead of planned hospital care.
- You have been instructed to self-isolate following entry into the country.
Mental HealthCoronavirus has affected all aspects of our lives and there are constant news updates about the pandemic which can make it feel never-ending. It is impacting our lives in so many ways which in the long term can affect our Mental Health. Juggling work, home schooling and trying to keep things “normal” can be hard work so it is important to take time out for yourself, exercise, do a hobby where possible and have some down time. This Change curve is really helpful in understanding all the emotions we are going through right now and how we respond to it. There are quite a few Facebook pages you can join, where other parents’ share thoughts and ideas, it is also helpful to share your experiences with others. It helps to connect through calls, text and the internet, social media can be full of great ideas and support not always doom and gloom. Also please click on the download below for a list of Virtual Field trips and museum tours you and your family can enjoy. Facebook groups to join - search: ‘Family Lockdown Tips and Ideas’ ‘Dads Matter’ also web page https://www.dadsmatteruk.org/ Hereford group – ‘Mums Local’ NHS - Every Mind Matters page also has some great information , try out the mind plan quiz and get top tips and advice for you. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/your-mind-plan-quiz/ If you do have any free time why not look into some further education to busy your mind and stimulate your brain: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52447539
Loneliness during lock down -Many of us are experiencing loneliness during the current Pandemic. We are all trying to stay safe but at the same time missing our friends and families massively. It is not just you that feels this way and it is good to offers support to others that may be feeling this way. Click on the Mental Health Foundation website link below to find out ways Loneliness can affect your Mental Health, how to prevent it and what you can do for others that may be suffering from Loneliness.
Sleepio and DaylightTwo wellbeing resources are being offered to staff in Social care settings in England and Wales, who may be experiencing sleep or anxiety issues. The programme is active until 31st December 2020 and is free to access. The offer includes former staff returning to the workforce. Click here. Both work with cognitive behavioural techniques to help ease symptoms via a six week online programme or app.
Back to school advice (England)
- Key information you need to know
- Getting to and from school
- Special schools
- Preparing your child to return to school
- Answers to some of your common concerns about going back to school in the autumn
- Support from Contact
- Read the government for full school reopening this autumn.
- Government guidance has also been written specifically for parents of children in early years, schools and colleges.
- They have Covid-19 symptoms, or have tested positive for Covid-19.
- They are a close contact of someone who has Covid-19.
- They have been advised to shield on clinical or public health advice. This might be because they are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group and there is a local rise in infection rates.
Key resources to help
- The Royal College of Occupational Therapists 'Top Tips' for parent carers worried about their child returning to school, especially if they find change difficult to handle.
- Wellchild has a back-to-school checklist of questions you can ask the school before September.
- National Deaf Children's Society has a checklist of what to expect and questions to ask your child's education setting for parents of children who are deaf.
- National Autistic Society has a Back to School guide to prepare children with autism for the return to school, plus a free interactive live stream event on 24th August for parents which can also be watched back afterwards.
See also how Contact can support you.
Children with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plansBecause of Covid-19, temporary changes were made to the law on EHC plans to relax the rules around providing education and health support and to allow extensions to EHC timescales. Some of these changes have now ended. This means that a child or young person is entitled to the support specified in their EHC plan and local authorities and health services now have a legal duty to make sure the support is provided. The rules allowing extensions to timescales for EHC processes are still in force until the 25 September.
What will schools do to keep pupils and staff safe from Coronavirus?Protective 'bubbles'
In primary schools children will stick to their own class 'bubbles'. This may not be possible because of the need to deliver a broad curriculum, especially in secondary school. In these settings, a bubble might be the whole year group. To reduce movement around the school and ensure groups stay together, there may be staggered break or lunch times and different entrances and exits.
Alternative provision settings, such as pupil referral units and alternative provision academies and free schools, will vary in size, and protective bubbles may include class groups or whole school groups depending on numbers and the need to deliver a broad and balanced curriculum.
'Bubbles' could be given different break times and drop-off and pick-up times, staggered throughout the day. The overall amount of teaching time should remain the same for everyone.Hygiene procedures Schools must:
- Have strict hand-washing policies.
- Promote the "catch it, bin it, kill it" approach when it comes to coughing and sneezing.
- Step up cleaning arrangements.
My child doesn't understand social distancing, will they let him go back to school if he can't follow the rules?Some pupils will not be able to understand and follow social distancing rules and should not be punished or excluded for this. Other measures, such as protective bubbles, handwashing and cleaning will be particularly important where social distancing is not practical, for example with younger age groups.
How will my child's needs like changing, feeding and administering medication happen in September given social distancing rules?Social distancing will not be possible when working with many pupils with complex needs or where an adult needs to be in close contact with a pupil to provide personal care. The guidance is clear that educational and care support should be provided as normal.
Managing Covid-19 symptomsAnyone who is ill with Covid-19 symptoms should not come into school. If someone becomes unwell with suspected Covid-19 symptoms whilst in school they will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for at least 10 days, and to arrange a test. Other members of the household should self-isolate for 14 days from when the individual first showed symptoms. Staff or pupils do not need to go home to self-isolate unless:
- They develop symptoms themselves.
- The first person with symptoms tests positive.
- They are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service.
Will children be tested for the virus at school?The government currently has no plans to routinely test pupils and staff in schools if they do not have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. The government has promised to distribute a small number of home testing kits to schools and education settings to give directly to parents or carers collecting a child showing symptoms at school. If pupils or staff show symptoms, schools must:
- Send symptomatic pupils and staff to self-isolate for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms
- Ask parents and staff to inform them immediately of their test results
- Contact the local health protection team for advice and to book testing
- Provide details of anyone who has been close contact with COVID-positive staff or pupils (or if asked by NHS Test and Trace)
- You child can stop self-isolating and return to school if they test negative, feel well and no longer have coronavirus-like symptoms
- If a pupil tests positive, families should follow the Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and self-isolate for at least seven days from the start of symptoms.
- If your child tests positive, the school, with advice from the local health protection team, will send home pupils and staff who have been close contact with your child to self-isolate for 14 days.
- Pupils can return to school when they have no coronavirus symptoms.
- Move children in 'bubbles' where possible.
- Provide hand sanitiser.
- Apply social distancing where possible.
- Ask children over 11 to wear face coverings unless they are exempt where possible.
- Ensure that vehicles are well ventilated
- Increased cleaning of vehicles
- Where all children and young people are travelling to the same special school, they could be transported in a whole school "bubble".
- Where children and young people need close physical contact, staff may need to wash and sanitise their own hands more often.
- Some children and young people behave in a way that increases droplet transmission, for example, biting, licking or spitting. In this situation distancing on transport will be particularly important.
- Although face masks are generally recommended for everyone over 11, some children and young people with SEND may not be able to wear face masks or handle them safely. The use of face masks may also make communication difficult where lip reading is used.
- Drivers and passenger assistants do not have to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for example gloves, aprons or goggles - unless this is part of a child or young person's routine care.
My child's disability means they can't wear a mask - what will happen when they travel in the school bus or taxi?Face coverings are not compulsory on school transport services. Children who cannot wear a mask, for example because of a particular condition, or because it would cause them severe anxiety, do not have to wear one.
My child gets free transport to his special school. Can I get a transport budget so I can take my child to school instead?Personal travel budgets may be an option offered by your local council, with your consent. Check your local authority's transport policy and contact them to discuss it. The new guidance makes it clear that mileage allowances and personal budgets should cover the cost of the parent's journey to and from school in the morning, and again in the afternoon.
- Because of smaller numbers of children, 'bubbles' are likely to be class sized.
- Some children and young people with SEND will need more support to understand the new routines and to follow them.
- Social distancing should be practised where possible but it is recognised that not all children will be able to follow this.
- Therapists and other visiting staff should provide support as usual.
- Pupils who are dual registered at a mainstream and special school should attend both settings as usual and should not be isolated because of the risk of greater contact.
- ChildLine's Calm Zone has lots of ideas and activities you can do with children to help them keep calm and manage any anxiety they may be feeling about going back to school.
- Safety Net have a guide to going back to school for older children with tips on reducing anxiety and what to expect in the 'new normal' school environment.
- Toys and gadgets to help with your child's sensory needs from our Fledglings online shop is full of useful sensory toys other equipment to help your child with the return to school. Take a look in our Back to School department for some inspirational ideas.
If your child has a learning or communication difficulty
- Create a social story to prepare your child for their first day. National Autistic Society has information about social stories that you can use and make for your child to help them understand the return to school.
- Widgit has a back to school toolkit of visual symbols parents can download to help children with finding the way, personal care, plus wellbeing and mental health resources.
- Books Beyond Words - Coming soon: two new stories without words to help children returning to school after lockdown.
What you can ask the school to do?
- Ask to visit the school with your child before the start of term if possible.
- Ask the teacher or TA to share a video or pictures of changes to the school including one-way systems, a different classroom or unfamiliar staff.
- Request a reassuring 'welcome back' online session with the teacher or TA before the start of term.
- Consider a temporary part time timetable to ease your child back to school. This can only be implemented with your agreement.
Help from your child's specific condition support groupYou may find it useful to get in contact with the relevant support group or umbrella organisation for your child's condition to see if they have specific advice about the return to school. You can find the support group for your child's condition in our A-Z medical directory
I've been told that my child won't be allowed back in school next term following a risk assessmentWhen schools were closed to most pupils, individual risk assessments were necessary to decide whether a pupil with an EHC Plan would be safer at home or at school. The situation has changed now as all pupils are expected to be back in school from September. Individual risk assessments should not be a barrier to returning to full-time education. They can still be a useful way to decide what additional support children and young people with EHC plans will need to return to full time education. Guidance says that schools should work with parents and young people over 16 to plan for this full return.
What can I do if my child's anxiety about going back to school means they simply refuse to go?Schools are aware that many children will need additional support when they return in September. Talk to the school about practical ways they can help your child overcome their anxiety and ease back in to school. Attendance is compulsory from September for children age five-16, as it was before the lockdown. If you allow your child to stay at home, you risk a fine or further action. If your child's anxiety is so severe that they are unwell, let the school know this so that your child's absence can be authorised. The school may ask for evidence from a medical professional to show that your child is not fit to attend school. If the absence is likely to be longer term, see our pages on school attendance and absence and seek advice from our helpline on your next steps.
My child struggled to do schoolwork at home and I'm worried about how my child will catch up all the work they have missed.All children will have had their learning disrupted due to lockdown, and teachers will recognise that many children will not have been able to learn at home. Schools will have a plan in place to identify any gaps in learning and to help pupils catch up. The government has announced extra funding for this.
My child is vulnerable to infections and I don't think it's safe for them to return to school, do I have to send them in?Attendance is compulsory and you may risk further action, such as a fine, if you do not send your child to school. Official guidance says that it is safe for pupils to be in school from September with the preventive measures in place. Ask your child's school what steps they are taking to minimise the risk of transmission. If your child already has an individual health plan, it may need updating. See our webpage on how schools should support pupils with medical needs. If you believe that your child cannot return to school because of their medical condition you are likely to need further medical evidence to show this is the case. See our webpages on attendance for further information and seek advice from our helpline on the next steps.
My child has complex medical needs. Her school are worried about the increased risk of Covid 19 transmission because of the procedures she needs and I'm worried she may not be able to return in SeptemberYour child should not be prevented from returning to school in September because of the care she needs. Her individual risk assessment should be reviewed and updated to decide whether increased safety measures are needed: The government has produced guidance on safe working in education, childcare and social care settings including the use of PPE This guidance includes information on caring for children with complex medical needs where there is a risk of droplet transmission:
- Guidance on the specific steps that should be taken to care for children with complex medical needs, such as tracheostomies (this includes aerosol generating procedures)
Can my child still have access to remote learning next term?Schools must provide remote learning to pupils who have to self-isolate due to Covid-19 (see above) or where large numbers of pupils have to stay home due to a local lockdown. Schools will be expected to plan a high-quality programme that should include daily contact with a teacher. Pupils without suitable internet access should be provided with printed resources. Many children, including those with special educational needs (SEN), may need additional support with remote learning. Schools will not have to provide remote learning if parents decide to keep their child at home, for example if they believe it is unsafe to send them in.
My child's behaviour has been very challenging over the last few months because of the changes in routine during the pandemic. I am worried that when he returns to school in September this behaviour may continue. Can the school exclude him?Schools can use disciplinary measures, such as exclusion for behaviour that is disruptive. Any exclusion must be formally recorded and permanent exclusion should be a last resort. If disruptive behaviour is related to a child's SEN or disability, the school should first take action to identify and address the underlying cause of the behaviour. Government guidance says that schools should consider any challenging behaviours or social or emotional challenges arising as a response to the lockdown and offer additional support, including specialist support and phased returns where needed. Some children and young people with SEND (whether with EHC plans or on SEN support) will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine that these measures will involve, so staff should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories. See our webpage for further information about school exclusion and your rights in this situation.
Over the last few months my child's therapies have been stopped as they were given in school. Should I expect the sessions to continue as usual once he returns in September?Your child should continue to receive their support. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual. Where the health or education support is specified in an EHC plan, it must be provided.
My child's school was struggling to meet my child's SEN before lockdown and I fear the situation may now be even worse - is there anything I can do about this?If your child has an EHC plan, an early or emergency review may be needed to decide if you child needs more support or a different kind of support. If your child does not have an EHC plan, the school must do everything they can to put in place the extra help they need. See our webpage on getting extra help in school and seek further advice from our helpline if you need.
My child produces a lot of saliva because of their medical condition and the school say she cannot return in September as they are worried about the risk of Covid-19 transmission.Some pupils with complex needs will not be able to maintain the same hygiene as their peers. Guidance is clear that this is not a reason to stop them from having face to face education. Risk assessments should be carried out by the school and should involve parents. The purpose of the risk assessment is to consider how to support the pupil and the staff working with them.
My year seven child doesn't have a placement at a secondary school this September because my local authority says coronavirus has delayed the process. I expressed a preference for a school back in November.The regulations have been amended to allow for flexibility in timescales where delays are due to Covid-19. However, this does not apply to processes which should have finished before 1 May. The deadline for amending a final EHC plan was 15 February. See our page on EHC Plans and school admissions and seek advice from our helpline about the next steps in your situation.
My child is starting secondary school in September. They usually have a transition day(s) to help them get used to it but of course this year this has not happened due to Covid-19. What can I do to help them with this big change?Some of the suggestions below might be applicable to this question too.
My child has ADHD and severe anxiety, and I usually take him into the class, but the school have said due to Covid-19, I have to leave him at the school gate and cannot enter the school premises from September?Disabled children and young people including autistic children, those with learning disabilities, ADHD or a PDA profile may find the return to school especially difficult. It is important to share your worries with the school as soon as you can and agree a plan to ease you child's return to school and help them understand and cope with the changes.
- Ask if the school will allow you to continue to take your child to the classroom as a reasonable adjustment for their disability.
- If the school does not agree to this, discuss other adjustments which might help your child. For example you may be allowed to bring your child in at a different start time or to a different entrance.
Listen back to our webinar on managing behaviour and anxiety
With Dionne Hollis (Occupational Therapist) and Stephanie Carr (Speech and Language Therapist) on support strategies for managing behaviour and anxiety
Facebook Q&A - ask our education advisers your questions about returning to school
Join us on our Facebook page on Thursday 27 August from 2-4pm and ask about your individual situation.
Virtual parent workshopsOur popular free workshops programme is now online. Topics include: Encouraging Positive Behaviour, Wellbeing for you, and Managing your child's sleep. Visit our family workshops page for upcoming dates.
Listening Ear serviceOur 'Listening Ear' service which provides free 1-1 support for parents via a telephone appointment with one our family support advisers, at a time that suits you. We can help with emotional support, strategies for reducing your child's anxiety and challenging behaviour or help you with structuring the day. Visit EventBrite for upcoming timeslots.
School reopeningsLatest update on Thursday 2 July: Schools in England to reopen in full from September and new guidance published The government has announced that all schools in England will reopen for all year groups and full time in September. Contact's education experts have been looking at the new guidance (for special schools; for mainstream schools) published today to pick out the detail of interest to families of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Schools will be expected to update their risk assessments and where necessary to put in place additional measures to reduce the risk of transmission of Coronavirus. These include:
- Keeping children together in the same groups or "bubbles" and limiting contact between groups
- Different start and finish times for the school day
- Encouraging older children to distance from each other and staff where possible
- Regular handwashing and cleaning of school areas.
- Access to testing in schools for those with suspected cases of Coronavirus
- Self-isolation of individuals or groups if there are confirmed cases of Coronavirus. Schools will have to provide remote education for pupils who have to self -isolate.
- School transport will continue but changes may be needed to reduce the risk of coronavirus, for example, more cleaning of vehicles or seating pupils differently
Some children and young people with SEND (whether with EHC plans or on SEN support) will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine that these measures will involve, so staff should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories.
Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual.
Attendance will once again be compulsory for children aged 5-16 from September, apart from pupils who are shielding or self isolating in line with medical advice.
Guidance says that schools should consider any challenging behaviours or social or emotional challenges arising as a response to the lockdown and offer additional support and phased returns where needed.
Particular challenges for disabled childrenJill Hardman, Contact's Senior Education Helpline Adviser, said: "The guidance recognises that many disabled children will find the return to school challenging, so there needs to be a package of support that families can access to address that. "This will help to ensure the return to school is successful for children with SEND. It is important that children currently without a school place and those that are transitioning between settings are given special attention so they aren't left behind. "In futher recognition of the particular challenges for disabled children, we would like to see a period of grace for them and their families, by not penalising absences for at least two months. Families do not need this added stress at this time." Listen to our webinar on returning to school Our parent carer participation team have been working with forums in the North East to put on a webinar about managing the return to school. Presented by Dionne Hollis (Occupational Therapist) and Stephanie Carr (Speech and Language Therapist), the webinar covers support strategies such as visual structure and accessible information, managing rising emotions and adjusting expectations as we all tackle going back to school after this long break or after significant changes to school timetables. Watch the webinar recording on Youtube.
School reopeningsThe new school term will begin on 24 August 2020 for Primary 7, Year 12 and Year 14 pupils and for vulnerable children across all year groups. All other pupils will return at normal start dates, which may vary depending on school. The Department of Education has published new guidance setting out how schools should plan for the new school day and is available on the Department of Education website.
- Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - New School Day(external link opens in a new window / tab)
- Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - Special Schools(external link opens in a new window / tab)
More information about educationVisit nidirect.gov.uk for all the latest updates in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has published its own guidance on vulnerable children.
School reopeningsLatest update on Thursday 30 July: Schools in Scotland will re-open from 11 August and new guidance published The Scottish government announced that all schools in Scotland will reopen full time in August. New guidance has been published to support local authorities, teachers and parents to prepare for the new term and minimise the risks of Covid-19 transmission through the application of a number of infection mitigation measures. Every school will carry out a risk assessment and put in place enhanced hygiene and cleaning arrangements. In line with scientific advice, primary pupils will not need to physically distance from each other. The scientific advice also makes clear that distancing is not required for a safe return to secondary schools. However, as an additional precautionary measure, the guidance says that where possible secondary schools should take practical, proportionate steps to encourage distancing between young people, particularly in the senior phase, provided it does not introduce capacity constraints. This goes beyond the requirements of the scientific advice, and represents an additional measure to minimise risk. School staff will need to physically distance from each other and, where possible, from children and young people who are not part of the same household. For the majority of staff in schools, personal protective equipment will not be necessary, but guidelines make clear the exceptions to this position. While all schools are reopening, there may be some arrangements particular to your local authority. The latest plans as schools prepare to reopen can be found on your local authority website where specific information on special schools, after-school clubs and holiday clubs should also be available. In addition to Test and Protect - Scotland's test, trace, isolate, support strategy - a surveillance programme is being developed for schools, where regular testing and survey data will identify symptoms and infections in the school population. This will allow regular reporting on incidences of infection and inform the ongoing development of guidance for schools. For full details visit Guidance for preparing for the start of the new school term in August 2020. There is also specific guidance for Coronavirus: residential childcare guidance. You can watch a short film from the Scottish Government's National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch providing Advice for parents as schools open. Children with Additional support needs going back to school Children with additional support needs (ASN) can go back to school when they reopen unless the childs' GP or healthcare team has advised against it. It is understandable that you may have concerns about the reopening of schools and childcare settings. Schools and local authorities know that this has been a difficult time for children with ASN, and there has been a lot of work done to make sure that every child will continue to receive the ongoing support they need and to do that safely. Some children and young people will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine that these measures will involve, so staff should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories. Your child's school should update you with the plans they have put in place for children with ASN. If you have any questions or concerns, do contact the school or nursery directly.
Placing request refusalsIf you have received a letter to inform you that your child has not been granted the nursery/school you had requested then you can appeal this decision. If you have not received a letter and it has been three months since the date you applied then your request is treated as being refused (deemed refusal). Currently due to COVID, there are three months rather than the normal two for it to be classed as a deemed refusal. Let's Talk ASN Scotland is a free service for parents of children with additional support needs who may require support in relation to a dispute or potential dispute with an education authority. It is funded by the Scottish Government to provide advocacy support for the parents of children with ASN with a right to make a reference to the ASN Tribunal for Scotland. This service can support you through the process of appealing any decision, including placing request refusals. Email: email@example.com or Tel: 0141 440 2503 to find out more.
Further SupportEnquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning (ASL), has specific information on how coronavirus is affecting ASL in Scotland at this time including information on the Additional Support Needs Tribunal. Mindroom is a charity dedicated to supporting those living with a learning difficulty. They have developed a back to school toolkit for children of different ages, including a printable workbook for them to fill in. Contact in Scotland - If you have a query or would like to talk through any concerns you have about your child going back to school or need other information and support just now, then please don't hesitate to email our enquiry line Scotland.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07458 046071 (Monday to Wednesdays).
Extra funding for additional teachersThe Scottish Government also announced that an additional £30 million will be allocated to Scottish local authorities to bring in additional teachers, building on the £45 miillion previously announced. The total amount will be enough to recruit approximately 1,400 extra teachers to support education recovery and accelerate progress in achieving excellence and equity for Scotland's children.
School reopeningsLatest update on Wednesday 12 August: Schools in Wales will re-open from 1 September and new guidance published Schools will reopen and begin to welcome back learners from 1 September. Many schools will be adopting a phased approach for the first two weeks of term, but all learners will be back in school by 14 September. Schools may consider staged arrival, departure and break and may therefore need to make temporary changes to the start and finish times of the school day. This supports the advice contained within the operational guidance for schools and settings from the autumn term that schools should consider staggering start and finish times to limit contact groups. Actions for schools and local authorities School governing bodies and local authorities should ensure they are able to welcome back all learners by 14 September and should plan their school session times based on the latest advice provided by the Welsh Government. Changes to the start and end times of the school day, as well as lunch breaks, are permitted without the need for prior consultation or giving notice, for the purposes of increasing operations during the coronavirus pandemic only. Changes to start and finish times can be disruptive for working parents. In addition, shortened break times may detrimentally affect learners, particularly if time to eat is limited. Schools and local authorities should ensure they carefully consider the impact on learners and parents when making such changes. Consideration should also be given to the impact that any changes may have on arrangements for dedicated school transport. There are concerns that some pupils may have fallen behind with their learning. What is Welsh Government doing to address this issue from September? The Welsh Government will provide an additional £29 million to schools to boost support for learners at crucial stages in their education from September. The equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants will be recruited throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. This will support learners taking their A level and GCSEs in 2021 and those known to have been affected most. The support package, provided at a school level, could include extra coaching support, personalised learning programmes and additional time and resources for exam year pupils. A range of teaching approaches will be relevant, including blended learning. Who should schools inform if a learner or staff member has displayed symptoms of COVID-19? Persons displaying symptoms of Covid-19 should be sent home, and advised to arrange a test and ensure self-isolation guidance is adhered to. For learners, parents should be advised to arrange a test for their child. If the test comes back positive, the contact tracing system will commence for that case. Contact tracers will get in touch with the school if there is a suspected cluster or potential outbreak, where they will ask for information from the school as to who was in the classroom if needed. Pupils and staff should only request a test if they are symptomatic, not if they suspect contact with a potentially positive case. For full details visit Welsh Government website - Schools: coronavirus. There is also specific guidance for School admission appeals: coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance on learning in schools and settings from the autumn term: Keep Education Safe (COVID-19) The Childrens Commissioner for Wales has a Coronavirus Information Hub for Families and Children including information & advice, support, activities.
Guidance while schools are shutThe Welsh government has guidance for parents and carers to support you and your children to stay safe and healthy and to support children to continue learning while schools are shut due to COVID-19. Wales has its own guidance on vulnerable children and young people.
Help for childcare fundersWelsh Government have announced a £4 million funding pot for childcare providers. The Childcare Provider Grant will offer dedicated funding for the childcare sector to help ensure more providers re-open as the schools return in September.
Latest updates on shieldingFrom the end of July in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland and later in August in Wales, shielding guidance for vulnerable people is coming to an end.
EnglandShielding was paused from Saturday 1 August. This means that support such as food parcels and medicine deliveries have come to an end. However, other forms of support - such as priority supermarket delivery slots and the NHS Volunteers Scheme, amongst a range of local volunteer schemes - continue. Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable can return to their education settings if they are eligible and in line with their peers. Where possible children should practise frequent hand washing and social distancing. See the government's full shielding guidance.
Northern IrelandShielding was paused in Northern Ireland from Friday 31 July. If you are concerned about support after 31 July, you can contact the Covid-19 Community Helpline:
- Phone: 0808 802 0020.
- Text: ACTION to 81025.
- Email: email@example.com
ScotlandShielding was paused from Saturday 1 August. This means that people shielding can follow the same guidance as the rest of Scotland. To stay safe, people coming out of shielding should strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures. From 1 August, the government expects that it ise safe enough for:
- Children to return to school.
- Adults to return to work.
- Students to return to university or college as part of the phased return to campus.
- Anyone to go inside pubs and restaurants.
- Anyone to attend places of worship for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation.
WalesIn Wales, those most at risk from coronavirus can stop shielding from Sunday 16 August. Measures will be kept under review in case of a rise in transmission levels, as some form of shielding might become necessary again if the virus increases. From 16 August, some of the support for people shielding will end, such as the weekly box scheme. But supermarkets will still offer priority slots to people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. A prescription delivery service will remain in place until 30 September. The chief medical officer will be writing to everyone in the shielding group about this update. Full guidance is at gov.wales.
Looking after yourselfIt's natural to feel anxious in this unprecedented situation: we wouldn't be human if we didn't! If you are feeling really anxious, take a moment to check in with yourself: stop, take a deep breath in and exhale fully, making a sighing sound as you breath out. Repeat three times. You can also roll your shoulders and stretch your limbs out and give them a shake, to help bring yourself back into your body. Another way to help anxiety is to bring your hand to your heart and just rest it there while you slowly breath. Give yourself some love! This wonderful practice has been shown to calm the nervous system. Charity Snap has a great guide for parents and carers with lots of help and resources to help manage yours and your children's anxiety. You could also visit the NHS website's tips on dealing with anxiety.
MIND have created a webpage to support your wellbeing during the outbreak - vital for us all.
Looking after your childThe NSPCC has created a new webpage with information and advice for parents or carers who are worried a child or young person may be struggling with their mental health or has anxiety about coronavirus. Young Minds has produced some guidance and top tips on talking to children about the coronavirus, including advice for young people to look after their mental health while isolating. Public Health England have published advice for parents and carers on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance includes information about how to look after your own mental health as a parent as well as helping children and young people cope with stress. You can also read the government's guidance for parent carers on looking after their child's mental health during the outbreak.
Helping your child understand the coronavirus pandemic
Your child might be finding it difficult to understand what's going at the moment. Here are some resources to help.
Makaton and sign language resources:
Free resources from Makaton charity about coronavirus.For children with learning disabilities:
Easy read online has produced a reassuring, easy read leaflet about the coronavirus
The CBF has produced special guidance for families during the Covid-19 pandemic, including a letter for families to give to emergency services who may not know how to support their loved one, and information about the role of learning disability nurses during the pandemic.There is also a cartoon workbook about Coronavirus for children under seven in lots of languages from MindHeart.
Makaton and sign language resourcesCheck out this Makaton video about handwashing from Mencap. Free resources from Makaton charity about coronavirus. For children with learning disabilities Check out this handwashing rap for children with learning disabilities. Easy read online has produced a reassuring, easy read leaflet about the coronavirus Beyond books also has two free illustrated books to help children with a learning disability understand: Jack plans ahead for coronavirus, and When someone dies from coronavirus.
Other resourcesBBC Newsround has helpful information for children about the coronavirus, including explainer videos. They also have a 'happy news' section to brighten the day Childline has a 'calm zone', with videos, activities, games, and calming activities to help children who are worried about anything Many major museums and organisations in the UK and abroad are running virtual tours, for example the British Museum. Calibre Audio Library UK charity that lends audio books and streams books online for anyone who struggles to access print, including children. Living Paintings (UK) Free postal library supporting blind and partially sighted adults, children and young people. They make tactile versions of pictures that come to life when fingers feel them. Dekko Comics 12 issues of Dekko Comics have been uploaded online as a free resource to help with home-learning during the Covid-19 isolation. BBC CBeebies for special needs Resources and help for children with additional needs from the BBC, including Mr Tumble! CBBs sign language with Mr Tumble. ITV Signed Stories Signed Stories help improve the literacy of deaf children from infancy upwards. The website also provides useful advice and guidance for parents, carers and teachers of deaf children, and for the deaf parents of hearing children. The Letterbox Library Catalogue of disability-related books for disabled children and their siblings, and for use in school or other settings, that promote understanding and explain 'difference' for all ages from babies to eleven years old. Twinkl has lots of wonderful resources and ideas to stimulate and entertain children of primary school age. And the Twinkl SEND resources are well worth checking out for fun stuff to do at home. Singing Hands on YouTube has videos of songs signed in Makaton. Storyline Online, streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children's books alongside creative illustrations. If your children are into animals and the natural world, National Geographic Kids on You Tube has lots of fantastic, interactive videos. Khan Academy Kids is an educational app for children aged two to seven. Animated characters guide children through educational materials. It's an American app but lots of relevant activities. GOSH Play Team have put together this resource about the power of play - as a form of connection/distraction during these times. And here is an article with tips for games and activities to do with children with special educational needs, that are not screen based - many of them indoors.
In WalesMeic is the helpline service for children and young people up to the age of 25. They can answer children's questions about coronavirus on 0808 8023456, or by Live Chat. The Children's Commissioner for Wales has also established a coronavirus information hub for families and children to with useful tips and advice regarding the coronavirus.
Dear families and educator all over the world, I have created this short book to support and reassure our children, under the age of 7, regarding the COVID-19. This book is an invitation for families to discuss the full range of emotions arising from the current situation. It is important to point out that this resource does not seek to be a source of scientific information, but rather a tool based on fantasy. My recommendation is to print this material so children can draw on it. Remember that emotions are processed through repetitive play and stories read multiple times. Share COVIBOOK and help ease kiddo's anxiety all over the world.
Manuela Molina - the author
Direct Payments, Personal Budgets and Personal Health Budgets and Covid 19.
If your PA can’t workSelf-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. It's important to stay at home and self-isolate if you are displaying symptoms. Advice about staying at home on the NHS website. If your Personal Assistant tells you they have symptoms of COVID-19 as described on NHS website, they should stay home or you can send them home. If they earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) statutory sick pay would apply from day one. If they don’t qualify, they can check GOV.UK to see if they can get financial support in the form Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance. The statutory sick pay (SSP) regulations 2020 (coronavirus amendment) came into force Friday 13 March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance so there’s no need for formal written notice to be given by a medical officer.
- let you know when they are having the test
- the result when they receive it
- purchasing PPE,
- purchasing additional care,
- purchasing hours from an additional carer or personal assistant,
- paying for retainer payments to personal assistants who are not working due to Covid-19 restrictions,
- adjusting the tasks paid carers and personal assistants undertake,
- paying one off direct payment for alternative solutions,
- paying for a close family member.
If my personal assistant has to self- isolate as they or someone in their household have shown signs of a consistent cough or fever, what do they do?Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.
What are my PA’s rights if they have to self-isolate?They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Covid-19 infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance They will get paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are eligible (earn over £120/week). They will be paid from day one rather than the fourth day of their illness. This will be applied retrospectively from 13th March 2020. You do not need evidence from your PA to be able to claim SSP for them. If they are self-isolating and then become sick, they should let you know They can get a sick note from NHS 111 by following the link here https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/
What if my PA does not earn enough to be eligible for SSP?They will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a job centre. Please visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/
If I or my PA becomes sick with symptoms relating to coronavirus, can I send them home?Yes, if your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms described by the government guidelines you should send them home to Self-isolate. What do I do if as the Direct Payment employer I feel it is safer for my Personal Assistants to self-isolate at home for your safety, even though they have not displayed symptoms? You will need to pay them full pay if they are on contracted hours. If because of coronavirus, my personal assistant does not want to come to work and neither my PA or myself (as the employer) are showing any symptoms. Do I still have to pay my personal assistant? If the PA chooses not to work and there is no identified high risk then no pay (other than authorised annual leave) will be given as this is an unauthorised absence. Please note that Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay are not affected.
Should we be using PPE?Yes. If you or any member of your household is symptomatic or has a confirmed case of COVID-19, and your PA or others will be providing direct care, PPE is required. The PA as an essential worker will be eligible to receive PPE. Furthermore, if your PA normally receives PPE to support you, this should continue.
What PPE should my PA be using?The following is a guide from Public Health England about how to use PPE during the Covid-19 Outbreak in a household setting. Easy read information about PPE
If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.
If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.
If you are absent from work due to sickness or if you are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), SSP will be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work for every day of sickness or every day you are in isolation. This applies from 13 March.
You must tell your employer you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19) or sick for another reason within 7 days. You could lose some of your SSP if you do not.
To be eligible for SSP you must earn an average of at least £118 per week.
If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.
If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.
If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, they should:
- If possible, get at least 2 metres (7 feet) away from other people
- Go to a room or area behind a closed door.
- avoid touching anything
- cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
- use a separate bathroom from others, if possible
The unwell person should either:
- use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service
- call 111, for NHS advice
- call 999, if they’re seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk
It’s best for the unwell person to use their own mobile phone to access these services if possible.
Covid 19 Uk Government Updates
- Government announces new £500 million scheme to kickstart film and television production struggling to secure insurance for Covid-related costs
- Further detail also released on how £880 million of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund will support cultural, arts and heritage organisations
- British Film Institute, Arts Council England, Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund publish guidance and criteria for applicants
What a face covering isIn the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, a face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. You can buy reusable or single-use face coverings. You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face. Face coverings are not classified as PPE (personal protective equipment) which is used in a limited number of settings to protect wearers against hazards and risks, such as surgical masks or respirators used in medical and industrial settings. Face coverings are instead largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of virus that causes coronavirus infection (COVID-19). If you wish to find out more about the differences between surgical face masks, PPE face masks, and face coverings see the MHRA’s (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) regulatory status of equipment being used to help prevent coronavirus (COVID-19).
When to wear a face coveringThere are some places where you must wear a face covering by law. Different rules exist in different parts of the UK about which you can find out more on the relevant regional websites:
- public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
- transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
- shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
- shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
- auction houses
- premises providing professional, legal or financial services (post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses)
- premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
- premises providing veterinary services
- visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
- libraries and public reading rooms
- places of worship
- funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
- community centres, youth centres and social clubs
- exhibition halls and conference centres
- public areas in hotels and hostels
- storage and distribution facilities
Enforcement measures for failing to comply with this lawPremises where face coverings are required should take reasonable steps to promote compliance with the law. The police can take measures if members of the public do not comply with this law without a valid exemption and transport operators can deny access to their public transport services if a passenger is not wearing a face covering, or direct them to wear one or leave a service. If necessary, the police and Transport for London (TfL) officers have enforcement powers including issuing fines of £100 (halving to £50 if paid within 14 days). As announced we will bring forward changes which mean fines for repeat offenders will double at each offence, up to a maximum value of £3,200.
When you do not need to wear a face coveringIn settings where face coverings are required in England, there are some circumstances where people may not be able to wear a face covering. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others. This includes (but is not limited to):
- children under the age of 11 (Public Health England do not recommended face coverings for children under the age of 3 for health and safety reasons)
- people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
- employees of indoor settings (or people acting on their behalf, such as someone leading part of a prayer service) or transport workers (see section 6) - although employers may consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines
- police officers and other emergency workers, given that this may interfere with their ability to serve the public
- where putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
- if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate
- to avoid harm or injury, or the risk of harm or injury, to yourself or others - including if it would negatively impact on your ability to exercise or participate in a strenuous activity
- if asked to do so in a bank, building society, or post office for identification
- if asked to do so by shop staff or relevant employees for identification, for assessing health recommendations (e.g. by a pharmacist), or for age identification purposes including when buying age restricted products such as alcohol
- if required in order to receive treatment or services, for example when getting a haircut
- in order to take medication
- if you are delivering a sermon or prayer in a place or worship
- if you are the persons getting married in a relevant place
- if you are undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact your ability to do so
Exemption cardsThose who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering should not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this, this includes exemption cards. No person needs to seek advice or request a letter from a medical professional about their reason for not wearing a face covering. Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. This is a personal choice and is not necessary in law. Access exemption card templates For exemptions in different parts of the UK please refer to the specific guidance for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The reason for using face coveringsCoronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing. It is important to follow all the other government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) including staying safe outside your home. If you have recent onset of any of the most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19):
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia)
How to wear a face coveringA face covering should:
- cover your nose and mouth while allowing you to breathe comfortably
- fit comfortably but securely against the side of the face
- be secured to the head with ties or ear loops
- be made of a material that you find to be comfortable and breathable, such as cotton
- ideally include at least two layers of fabric (the World Health Organisation recommends three depending on the fabric used)
- unless disposable, it should be able to be washed with other items of laundry according to fabric washing instructions and dried without causing the face covering to be damaged
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on
- avoid wearing on your neck or forehead
- avoid touching the part of the face covering in contact with your mouth and nose, as it could be contaminated with the virus
- change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
- avoid taking it off and putting it back on a lot in quick succession (for example, when leaving and entering shops on a high street)
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before removing
- only handle the straps, ties or clips
- do not give it to someone else to use
- if single-use, dispose of it carefully in a residual waste bin and do not recycle
- if reusable, wash it in line with manufacturer’s instructions at the highest temperature appropriate for the fabric
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser once removed
Face coverings at workThere is no universal face coverings guidance for workplaces because of the variety of work environments in different industries. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has provided detailed guidance for specific workplace settings. Employers must make sure that the risk assessment for their business addresses the risks of COVID-19 using BEIS guidance to inform decisions and control measures including close proximity working. It is important to note that coronavirus (COVID-19) needs to be managed through a hierarchy or system of control including social distancing, high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning, fixed teams or partnering, and other measures such as using screens or barriers to separate people from each other. These measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace, but there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial and a precautionary measure; this will largely be to protect others and not the wearer. If employees choose to wear a face covering, normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to apply.
Staff in indoor settingsEmployees should continue to follow guidance from their employer based on a workplace health and safety assessment. Face coverings are not required by law for employees as employers already have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment. Employers should assess the use of face coverings on a case by case basis depending on the workplace environment, other appropriate mitigations they have put in place, and whether reasonable exemptions apply. For example, there will be times when screens or visors are in use, or when a staff member is not in close proximity to people they do not normally meet, and so it will not be necessary for staff to wear a face covering. For recommendations and requirements in specific settings please check the Government’s workplace settings guidance.
Transport workersTransport workers are also not required to wear a face covering by law. However, face coverings offer some benefits in situations where social distancing is difficult to manage. For example, when working in passenger facing roles including when providing assistance to disabled passengers. Public health advice is that staff wear a face covering when they are unable to maintain social distancing in passenger facing roles, recognising that there will be exceptional circumstances when a staff member cannot wear a face covering, or when their task makes it sensible (based on a risk assessment) for them not to wear a face covering.
Buying and selling face coveringsIn the UK, face coverings are being sold by a large number of retailers online and in store. Details of a product’s conformance to any standards can be found under the product details section online, or on the packaging or label of the covering itself. Access the Office for Product and Safety Standards (OPSS) guidance for manufacturers and sellers of face coverings. Due to the complexity of the different contexts in which COVID-19 can spread and the rapidly changing and growing evidence base on the effectiveness of face masks and coverings, there are currently no UK product standards for face coverings. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) approved a Workshop Agreement on 17 June with performance requirements, methods of testing and uses of community face coverings. This was created under the stewardship of AFNOR (the French national organization for standardization), who published a French specification for “barrier masks” intended for both mask manufacturers and the public in March 2020. In June 2020, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) released a specification for Textile Barrier Face Coverings designed for both disposable and reusable coverings. The specification sets out the design, performance and chemical requirements of coverings, as well as labelling instructions. The performance requirements do not include tests for filtration efficiency which are incorporated under the CEN and AFNOR guidelines. The British Standards Institution will not be creating a separate standard and intend to adopt the CEN Workshop Agreement. Copies of both the CEN and AFNOR documents are freely available for the public to download.
Making your own face coveringIf you want to make your own face covering, instructions are widely available online. We do not endorse any particular method but be considerate of materials and fabrics that may irritate different skin types. Emerging evidence suggests that the risk of transmission may be reduced by using thicker fabrics or multiple layers. However, the face covering should still be breathable. Children should make face coverings under the supervision of an adult and face coverings for children should be secured to the head using ear loops only. If you would like more information on how to make a face covering with materials from around your home please visit the Big Community Sew website. Here you will find step-by-step video tutorials on how to make face coverings and other useful tips and advice.
Maintaining and disposing of face coveringsDo not touch the front of the face covering, or the part of the face covering that has been in contact with your mouth and nose. Once removed, store reusable face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them. If the face covering is single use, dispose of it in a residual waste bin. Do not put them in a recycling bin. Make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched using normal household cleaning products. If eating in a café, for example, it is important that you do not place the face covering on the table. Wash your face covering regularly and follow the washing instructions for the fabric. You can use your normal detergent. You can wash and dry it with other laundry. You must throw away your face covering if it is damaged. The government has also published guidance on the safe disposal of waste for the public and businesses.