COVID-19: Children, education and returning to school

Children to remain in school throughout second lockdown

In line with the latest government guidance, all pupils are expected to remain in school full-time throughout the second lockdown. We are working closely with local schools to ensure that pupils and staff feel safe and that learning can continue.

It’s important for children and young people that they attend school to support their learning, wellbeing and wider development. Schools have ensured that they are able to provide education in a safe environment, in line with their individual risk assessments. 

All schools now have remote learning in place should children need to self-isolate at any time. Parents are encouraged to speak to their child’s school if they have any concerns.

Advice from the government for parents on their children attending school during this time can be found through the GOV.UK website.

Cleaning and hygiene measures

Extra cleaning has been arranged in schools following guidance from Public Health England’s advice, particularly of areas used by different groups and frequently touched surfaces.

Children will be encouraged to regularly wash their hands throughout the day and follow good hygiene (for example info on Catch it, Bin it, Kill it). Hand sanitiser stations will be available throughout schools.

Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, and the usual clothes washing methods are fine. 

Staff will be paying close attention to whether children show any symptoms of Coronavirus during the school day. If they do, they’ll be taken to a safe area and a parent or guardian will be contacted to take them home. They will be asked to get tested for Coronavirus as soon as possible.

For school-specific regulations and guidance, please contact a school directly or visit their website to learn more about the measures they are putting in place.

You can find information on all our local schools on the Council website

Travelling to and from school

We want to encourage children to walk, cycle or scoot to school wherever possible to limit usage of public transport services. We appreciate this isn’t always going to be possible, so it’s important that those who can walk, cycle or scoot do so to ensure there is capacity for those who don’t have that option.

Please visit the TfL website for information on bus route frequency and additional services in place to support safe travel to and from school.

There are currently no changes to free travel for children and young people. TfL continues to work with Government on how and when any suspension of free travel for Under 18s could take effect but it would not be before April 2021.

TfL have shared extensive guidance for schools on the measures in place to ensure children can get to and from school safely.

For information on travel arrangements for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) please visit the Council’s Local Offer website. This site also features other resources relevant to children with SEND at this time that can aid their learning and readjustment.


Read more about Coronavirus safe travel at the GOV.UK website.

Reducing contact

Following guidance from the Government, schools are working to reduce contact between groups of children and have established social bubbles, which include members of staff.

Each bubble consists of the same adults and children, who will remain in that same bubble for the remainder of the school year. If any adult or child within the bubble tests positive for Coronavirus, the entire group must self-isolate at home. In secondary schools, bubbles may need to be large for schools to deliver the full range of subjects. However, as older students are better able to social distance, the whole year bubble may not be required to self-isolate but this decision will be made following a full risk assessment by the school.

Changes have been made to the layout of classrooms. They have been organised to allow social distancing between pupils and staff, with pupils facing forward where possible and staying at the same desk.

Equipment and resources are cleaned regularly, and pupils and staff have their own personal equipment where possible. Where cleaning isn’t practical, items are left unused until the risk of transmission has passed.

Schools continue to use outside space for learning and recreation as this is so important for children’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Schools can give parents specific information about their arrangements. Contact a school or visit their website for details of how classrooms are shared, and outside areas managed.

You can find information on all our local schools on the Council website.

Physical and mental wellbeing

While it was necessary for schools to be closed when Coronavirus lockdown first hit, the social interactions between friends, carers and teachers, which are all crucial in a child’s development and wellbeing, have undoubtedly been affected.

We understand pupils will have experienced and continue to experience a variety of emotions in response to the pandemic, such as anxiety, stress or low mood. This may particularly be the case for vulnerable children, for example those with a social worker, or for young carers.

Schools provide emotional care and extra-curricular activities to all pupils, which is designed to: 

  • support the rebuilding of friendships and social engagement

  • equip pupils to respond to issues linked to Coronavirus

  • support pupils with approaches to improving their physical and mental wellbeing 

Schools have also been asked to provide more focused emotional support for: 

  • individual pupils
  • groups already known to need additional help
  • any groups they identify as newly vulnerable on their return to school

The Council is working with schools to ensure they are equipped with resources and contacts to refer children to should they want to reach out for mental health support. The ‘Knowing your mental health’ leaflet is being promoted on digital screens around the borough and sent to schools so pupils can have physical copies. You can find this guide online – please do share it with a young person you know if you think it may be useful for them or their friends.