The number of people with coronavirus has increased dramatically since the end of August and remains high in Wirral. We are seeing more people from all age groups testing positive across all areas of Wirral.

Therefore we have taken the decision:

  • to implement the use of face coverings in communal areas of secondary schools for both pupils and staff
  • to ask that all parents and carers in Wirral wear face coverings when collecting and dropping off their children at school

Wearing a face covering does not replace the need for social distancing or washing your hands more frequently.

Please remember if your child or someone in your household is showing symptoms of COVID-19, please don’t let your child attend school. You’ll need to self-isolate and book a test for the person displaying symptoms. You can find more guidance for COVID absence on the Wirral View website.

This information applies to both school and early years settings and providers.

Returning to school and COVID-19

Are all year groups and all pupils required to go back to school in September?

Yes, all pupils and year groups are expected to return.

Are schools back full time?

Yes, schools will be back full time.

My child is nervous, afraid and anxious about going to school. What should I tell them? Is there any help available for them?

It is completely understandable that children will be feeling anxious about returning to school after such a long time away. Please do reassure your child that teachers and support staff  know that extra help will be needed for children to settle back into school routines and lessons.

Schools will also be able to call on extra advice and assistance from staff in other services who are experienced in supporting children’s emotional wellbeing.

What should I do if my child doesn't want to go into school?

Talk the situation through with your child’s school in the first instance. School staff will want to work with you to welcome your child back to school and to sort out any worries, big or small.

Who do I speak to if I have worries about my child going to school?

We'd advise that you speak to your school in the first instance. You can also contact Wirral's Attendance team who will also be able to offer support by emailing schoolattendance@wirral.gov.uk

Will I get a fine if I don't send my child or children to school?

Full-time school attendance is once again compulsory for all children from the start of term in September. This means that parents could be liable to be issued with Penalty Notices if their children’s absence is not authorised by school.

However, we would much prefer to work together with parents and carers and school staff to help overcome any difficulties, and to see children settled back at school in September.

How do I apply for free school meals? Do I need to apply again?

Details can be found on our website

Early Years: My child does not start school until mid-September 2020. Can my childcare provider receive funding prior to my child starting school?

School receive funding for the whole term so early years providers will not receive funding for Autumn term prior to your child starting school.
Providers will charge parents and carers for any childcare they provide prior to the child starting school. Any parents with financial difficulties can call the Family Information Service on 0151 666 3980 to discuss.

My children attend different schools, my child can't get the school bus and I won't be be able to drop them off on time?

Some schools may be altering pick up and drop off times, it is recommended you check your child’s school’s website for this information or get in touch with the school.

How will my child catch up with any learning they have missed out on from the last school year?

Try to remember that all children have had a break from their education so your child be in the same position as their peers, rather than have fallen behind. Once children are settled back into school their teachers will get a good understanding of what their needs are and be able to support them. If you are worried about your child’s progress speak with the school and their teacher(s).

Is there still an option for home schooling? Virtual sessions?

We would only wish to see children still doing school work at home during the day in very exceptional circumstances, and where this is in the best interests of the child. Any individual arrangements would need to be discussed with your child’s school in the first instance.     

Will the full re-opening of schools increase the spread of COVID-19?

Evidence so far strongly indicates that schools are not the main driver of COVID-19 infections in the community. In areas of the country where higher rates of infection have been found amongst school-aged children, this has been driven by large numbers of cases within the wider community (and not schools).

There are also many reassuring examples from across the world (including this country) where schools did not close during the height of the pandemic (or reopened soon after the initial closing), with no reported links to increased COVID-19 infection. In Wirral, almost all of our schools remained open during the past four months and there has been no evidence of virus transmission within these settings.

The balance of risk is now overwhelmingly in favour of children returning to school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from COVID-19.

Will my child be safe going to school?

100% safety can never be guaranteed while your child is at school. This has always been the case and will always be the case. Things like accidental injury, bullying and infections from a range of viruses have always been a low, but potential risk to your child whilst at school. These risks, as with COVID-19, are minimised with sensible precautions by the school.

To reduce the risk from COVID-19, schools have been working hard for some time now (supported by Public Health and Infection Control guidance) to make sure that the right things are put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19. These include:

  • reducing contact between children and staff by sticking to two metre social distancing wherever possible
  • making sure that staff and children clean their hands thoroughly and more often than usual
  • cleaning surfaces and classrooms more often 
  • making sure that staff or children (or anyone who lives with them) that have symptoms of COVID-19 do not attend school 

The exact measures used will differ from school to school. This is because different types of school have different needs and different structures to their buildings.

My child is in primary school, but is too young to stick to a 2-metre social-distance. Will they be at more risk of COVID-19?

It has been recognised that primary school children are highly unlikely to be able to stick to the two-metre distance guidance. That is why the emphasis for younger children will be on separating groups, while for older children it will be on distancing. Making sure that all children wash their hands regularly through the day will also be extremely important.

My child attends a secondary school. Will there still be different teachers for different subjects and if so, won’t that increase the risk of infection?

Teachers can work across different classes and year groups in order to deliver the school timetable. This means that secondary school children will still have different teachers for different subjects.

Where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they will continue to stay two metres away from children and other staff as far as possible. Classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned between use by different groups (or ‘bubbles’) and pupils and staff will be asked to wash or sanitise their hands both before and after entering the room.

Will my child be able to wash their hands enough through the day at school?

Yes. Regular handwashing will become part of the school routine. Children will wash their hands at the start of every school day and continue to do this at regular times throughout the day. Hand sanitiser stations will be installed in key areas within schools, including entrances and near toilet facilities.

Will children have temperature checks on arrival at school?

A few schools are planning to do this each morning. However, as only around 20% of children with COVID-19 show the classic symptoms (including a high temperature), this process will not reliably detect children that have COVID-19.

If a child becomes unwell in school, their temperature may be taken. 

School day set up: what to expect

What is the current position on wearing face coverings in schools?

National guidance on the use of face coverings in schools states that face coverings (for pupils and staff) must be worn in communal areas, for example corridors, of secondary schools in areas that have local lockdown due to high levels of community COVID-19 infections.

The number of people with coronavirus has increased dramatically since the end of August and remains high in Wirral. We are seeing more people from all age groups testing positive across all areas of Wirral.

Therefore we have taken the decision to implement the use of face coverings in communal areas of secondary schools for both pupils and staff.

We are also asking that all parents and carers in Wirral wear face coverings when collecting and dropping off their children at school.

Wearing a face covering does not replace the need for social distancing or washing your hands more frequently.

Further guidance on face coverings in educational settings

More details about wearing and making face coverings on Gov.uk

Will children be doing PE and sports?

Schools will take different approaches to PE and sports depending on their size, sports facilities and what they can safely manage. More information on PE and sports will be provided to children and parents by schools when they return.

What do I need to send my child to school with? (for example, equipment, hand sanitiser, face covering, pencil, paper etc)

It is recommended you check your child’s school’s website for this information or get in touch with the school.

Are after-school clubs and breakfast clubs running?

It is recommended you check your child's school's website for this information or get in touch with the school.

Symptoms and testing

What should I do if my child starts showing symptoms of COVID-19?

If your child has any COVID-19 symptoms (a high temperature, new continuous cough and /or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste), you must keep them away from school, book a test for them and let the school know of the result when it comes through.

You can book a test by completing the online referral form via wirral.gov.uk/testing or by ringing 119.

The test should ideally take place within 3 days of the first symptoms appearing, but definitely by day 5. Your child should stay at home for 10 days from the onset of their first symptom. If your child is well at the end of the 10 days period of self-isolation, they can return to school. The rest of your household will also need to stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days, and if they develop any symptoms also get tested.

When do I need to keep my child off school?

Your child should not attend school if:

  • they have any symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss or change of taste or smell) or if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days
  • anyone they live with (or who is in their support bubble) has any symptoms of COVID-19 or they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days
  • they have been asked to self-isolate by the national Test and Trace service because they have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19

In all of these situations your child, and anyone they live with, should self-isolate according to current national guidelines. 

Read guidance about what you should do if you, your child, or someone they live with develops symptoms of COVID-19 on Gov.uk

Read guidance about when to self-isolate and what to do on nhs.uk

What will happen if your child or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19 while they are at school? 

If your child or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19 at school, they will be taken to wait in an isolation room until they can be collected and taken home. Children will be supervised during this time.

Areas where your child or staff member has been during the day will be thoroughly cleaned before other children and staff can return to them. The child or staff member will need to arrange testing via the national Test and Trace service and self-isolate, in line with current national guidelines, along with those they live with.

If the child or staff member receives a positive test result, schools will work with the Test and Trace service to identify any children or staff who have recently come into close contact with the infected person. These children and staff will then be asked to self-isolate for 14 days (since they last came into close contact with the infected person).

What will happen if another child in the same class tests positive for COVID-19?

If your child has been in close contact during the previous 48 hours with the child who has tested positive, you will either be informed by your child’s school that your child must stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days, or you will be contacted by someone from the Test and Trace service who will talk you through any actions you need to take.

What will happen if there are COVID-19 cases at my child’s school?

If a school has 2 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among pupils or staff within 14 days, or they see an increase in pupil or staff absence due to suspected COVID-19, they will need to contact the local health protection team. This team will advise the school if additional action is needed, but it is unlikely that the whole school will need to be closed. Every school in Wirral now has details.

Specific groups: SEND, BAME and shielding

My child has a Special Educational Need or Disability. Will he or she be at a higher risk from COVID-19 if I send them back to school in September?

There is no evidence to suggest that children with special educational need or disabilities are at any more risk from COVID-19 than any other children. 

If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college, because you consider they may have other risk factors, you should discuss with your school.

My child is from a black or minority ethnic background. Will he or she be at a higher risk from COVID-19 if I send them back to school in September?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 affects minority ethnic children more than other children. All children, in general, experience mild symptoms if they have the virus.

If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college, because you consider they may have other risk factors, you should discuss with your school.

What if my child has been shielding through the lockdown?

From 1 August 2020, shielding advice for all adults and children was paused because of the much lower rates of infections in the community.

This means that even the small number of pupils who have remained on the shielded patient list can also return to school for the start of the new school term in September. Some children who no longer have to shield, but who still need specialist care from a health professional, may need to discuss their care with them before returning to school.

Read more information about shielding on Gov.uk

Transport and Travel

My child uses public transport to get to school. Will this be safe?

Families are being urged to plan their journey to and from school in advance.

It is recommended that if possible families and young people walk, cycle or scoot to school. However it is understood this isn’t always possible. The Department for Education has shared guidance for travel on its website, along with resources for travel safety if cycling or walking.

It may also be possible for some families to drive their children to and from school in their own cars. This is preferable to public transport at this time.

Where it is not possible for your child to use any of these ways to travel to school, many schools will have staggered their start and finish times so that the build-up of pupils on public transport during peak times can be reduced. Your child’s school will let you know of any relevant changes. 

View guidance on safer travel for passengers.

The Merseytravel website has specific guidance for pupils using its  services. It is mandatory for those aged 11 or over to wear a face covering on public transport, unless exempt.

Will I be able to store my child's bike at school?

It is recommended you check your child’s school’s website for this information or get in touch with the school.

My child uses dedicated school transport to get to school. Will this be safe?

Schools are working with transport providers to put in place safety measures on dedicated school transport to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Your child’s school will communicate these arrangements to you before the beginning of the autumn term.

Is there guidance available in other languages?

We have made videos with useful information about going back to school in seven other languages: