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When should I keep my child off school and when should I get them a test?

PUBLISHED: 19:07 17 September 2020 | UPDATED: 19:07 17 September 2020

High school students in classroom. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

High school students in classroom. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Confusion among parents has prompted health bosses to issue fresh guidance on when children should be kept off school and tested during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A flow chart telling parents when they should and shouldn't keep their child home from school during Covid. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilA flow chart telling parents when they should and shouldn't keep their child home from school during Covid. Picture: Norfolk County Council

With youngsters having returned to the classroom en masse for the first time since March this month, some parents may still feel unsure about when they should keep their children at home.

With seasonal colds and sniffles set to become more prevalent in the coming months, Norfolk’s director of public health, Dr Louise Smith, has issued new advice to schools and parents alike.

And the message is this: Look out for the three main symptoms of the virus and act on these.

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Dr Smith said: “It is great to see so many children enjoying being back at school after so long but, even with all the extra hygiene measures in place, it is likely that some children will be picking up cold viruses and parents might feel uncertain when they need to keep them home, or when to book a test.

“We ask that children stay at home and get a test if they have a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or have a change in their taste and smell. If they don’t have these symptoms and feel well enough to be at school, then they can attend as usual.”

The new advice is hoped to both serve as reassurance to parents, but also prevent people hastily registering their children for tests that do not necessarily need them.

Dr Smith added: “The only exception is when they are isolating because someone else in their household has tested positive - or they have been given advice from NHS Test and Trace that they are a close contact of a case or should self-isolate for 14 days.

“To prevent the usual seasonal viruses, parents and children can help protect themselves by washing their hands regularly, catching coughs and sneezes, keeping their distance from others and following the rule of six, when not at school.”

It comes as Matthew Try, headteacher at Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market, hit out at the government’s testing system for “letting down” teachers and parents.

He said: “It is this incompetence that schools are now fighting against as rightly frustrated parents look for an outlet for their frustrations.”


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