Coronavirus (COVID-19)


COVID-19 Wider opening of Schools

COVID-19 Wider opening of Schools / September 2020

Useful Guidance Documents:

School attendance: guidance for schools - GOV.UK (

Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak - GOV.UK (

Mass testing for secondary pupils as all schools and colleges fully reopen from 8 March - GOV.UK (

Guidance for schools: coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK (

Government Guidance Summary For Return to School March 8th

The guidance replicates what was in place for the autumn term, with a few additional updates

Summary of Specific changes:

Use of face coverings in classrooms for secondary age pupils and staff

  • we recommend that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises.
  • In addition, we now also recommend in those schools, that face covering should be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons.
  • In primary schools, we recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in primary school do not need to wear a face covering. We are taking this additional precautionary measure for a limited time during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the community.

These measures will be in place until Easter. As with all measures, we will keep it under review and update guidance at that point.

Mandatory attendance expectations in different school phases

  • School attendance will be mandatory for all pupils from 8 March. The usual rules on school attendance apply, including:
    • parents’ duty to secure their child’s regular attendance at school (where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age)
    • the ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct
  • During the week commencing 8 March, pupils will be offered asymptomatic testing on-site in secondary schools. Pupils who consent to testing should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. Pupils not undergoing testing should attend school in line with your phased return arrangements.
  • Vulnerable children and children of critical workers in secondary schools should continue to attend school throughout unless they receive a positive test result.
  • Testing is voluntary but strongly encouraged. You should not plan for rotas as there is no requirement to reduce occupancy in schools. Instead, everyone must follow the system of controls.
  • Schools should identify pupils at risk of disengagement and develop plans to re-engage them.

Current expectations for clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and staff

  • CEV staff are advised not to attend the workplace. Staff who are CEV will previously have received a letter from the NHS or their GP telling them this (no new letter is required), and there is guidance for everyone in this group. It provides advice on what additional measures individuals in this group can take. Employers should talk to their staff about how they will be supported, including working from home. You should continue to pay CEV staff on their usual terms. Those living with someone who is CEV can still attend work where home-working is not possible and should ensure they maintain good prevention practice in the workplace and home settings. The shielding guidance is reviewed regularly. CEV individuals will be advised in advance of any extension or end date to inform them of changes or continuation of the guidance
  • A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate because they:
    • have symptoms or have had a positive test result
    • live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive and are a household contact
    • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • The advice for pupils who have been confirmed as clinically extremely vulnerable is to shield and stay at home as much as possible until further notice. They are advised not to attend school while shielding advice applies nationally.
  • All 16 to 18-year-olds with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality will be offered a vaccine in priority group 6 of the vaccination program. At present, these children should continue to shield, and self-isolate if they have symptoms or are identified as a close contact of a positive case, even if they have been vaccinated.

Curriculum expectations

  • you should meet the following key curriculum expectations:
    • Teach an ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects
    • You may consider it appropriate to suspend some subjects for some pupils in exceptional circumstances. U
  • Early years foundation stage (EYFS) to Key Stage 3
    • Disapplications of specific EYFS requirements can be used where coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions prevent settings from delivering the EYFS in full. You may consider focusing more on the prime areas of learning in the EYFS, including communication and language, personal, social, and emotional development, and physical development if you think this would support your children following time out due to coronavirus (COVID-19). For pupils in Reception, teachers should also assess and address gaps in language, early reading, and mathematics, particularly ensuring children’s acquisition of phonic knowledge and extending their vocabulary. For Reception, consider how all groups of children can be given equal opportunities for outdoor education.
  • Key Stages 1 and 2
    • prioritize identifying gaps and re-establishing good progress in the essentials (phonics and reading, increasing vocabulary, writing, and mathematics), identifying opportunities across the curriculum so they read widely, and developing their knowledge and vocabulary
  • Key Stage 3
    • consider whether any modification to your curriculum offer is needed to address the most significant gaps in English and mathematics. You should ensure the curriculum remains broad from year 7 to year 9 so that the majority of pupils are taught a full range of subjects over the year, including sciences, languages, humanities, music and the arts, physical education and sport, religious education, and citizenship
  • Key Stages 4 and 5
    • pupils in years 10 and 11 are expected to continue to study mandatory non-examination subjects like PE, alongside their examination (teacher assessment) subjects.
  • Relationships, sex and health education (RSHE)
    • Schools are required to provide some relationships, sex, and health education to all secondary age pupils in the academic year 2020 to 2021, and to provide some relationships and health education to all primary age pupils
  • Music, dance, and drama in school
    • Continue teaching music, dance, and drama as part of your school curriculum, especially as this builds pupils’ confidence and supports their wellbeing. Singing, wind, and brass instrument playing can be undertaken in line with this and other guidance, including guidance provided by the DCMS for professionals and non-professionals, available at working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): performing arts.
  • Physical activity
    • Pupils should be kept in consistent groups, sports equipment thoroughly cleaned between each use by different individual groups. You can hold PE lessons indoors, including those that involve activities related to team sports

Elective home education

  • You should encourage parents to send their children to school, particularly those who are vulnerable
  • You should work with local authorities and, where possible, coordinate meetings with parents to seek to ensure EHE is being provided in the best interests of the child
  • Schools are not required to provide any support to parents that have withdrawn their child for EHE. Support provided by Local Authorities is discretionary, including support for a child’s special educational needs


  • GCSEs, A, and AS level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned. Students taking GCSE, AS and A levels, will receive grades based on teacher assessment, with teachers supported to reach their judgments by guidance and training from the 66 exam boards. Further detail will be published shortly, now that the consultation on this has closed.

Asymptomatic testing

Secondary - pupils will be offered testing from 8 March.

  • Rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFD)s will support the return to face-to-face education by helping to identify people who are infectious but do not have any coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. For secondary school staff and pupils, we are moving to a home testing model (for pupils, following the first 3 onsite tests). The lateral flow devices used have received regulatory approval from the MHRA for self-use. Home test kits will be available for all staff on return. Once pupils have been 30 tested 3 times at school, they will be provided with home test kits for regular testing. Testing remains voluntary but strongly encouraged.
  • Testing and return of pupils can be phased during the first week to manage the number of pupils passing through the test site at any one time. You should offer 3 tests, 3 to 5 days apart
  • you should prioritise vulnerable children and children of critical workers, and year groups 10 to 13.
  • Pupils should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. Pupils not undergoing testing should attend school in line with your phased return arrangements.
  • Testing is voluntary. If consent is provided, pupils will be asked to self-swab at the on-site ATS and after 30 minutes they should be informed of their results.
  • Home testing Both pupils and staff in secondary schools will be supplied with LFD test kits to self swab and test themselves twice a week at home.

Primary schools

  • Staff in primary schools will continue to test with LFDs twice a week at home
  • Primary age pupils will not be tested with LFDs
  • All primary school pupils are expected to return to school on 8 March.

Specialist settings

  • We recognise specialist settings will have additional considerations to take into account when delivering asymptomatic testing and additional guidance will be published and circulated

Nurseries and Childminders

  • All staff at private, voluntary, and independent nurseries will have access to tests to use twice weekly at home, building on the testing already available to maintained nursery schools and school-based nurseries. Childminders can continue to access community testing, and the Department continues to work with colleagues across Government to review the testing approach available for childminders






Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good