Back to school
Working with schools and families to keep our communities safe from Covid-19
After the recent lockdowns, everyone is looking forward to a school year where teaching and learning can continue in best place possible — the classroom. Whilst we are enjoying more freedoms, Covid-19 infections are still high and causing serious disease and long-Covid.
There is plenty of steps that schools, early years settings and colleges are taking to help slow the spread of Covid-19 in our communities.
This page explains what to expect in our education settings from the Autumn term, and how you can help make schools and our community safer for everyone.
See also ‘Back to school — what you need to know’ from the Department for Education.
Join this webinar on Wednesday 8 September, 12.30pm to 1.30pm where we will give parents the chance to learn more about the safety measures our schools will use from September, ask questions and hear from local decision-makers and public health experts.
Join online >
Bubbles and mixing
Keeping pupils or students in year group or classroom bubbles to reduce mixing is no longer a requirement. Schools are also able to allow mixing between year groups, meaning that activities like after school clubs, school plays and sports can take place as normal.
Some schools may choose to keep certain measures, such as staggered opening times, to reduce mixing of children and parents when it’s particularly busy. Your child’s school will keep you informed about any such measures that they will be implementing.
To help stop the spread of Covid-19 in our communities, it is essential for all children and families to continue to take rapid tests at home twice per week.
Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should also take a PCR test. Three main symptoms of Covid-19 are:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- or a change or loss of sense of taste or smell
As well as the these three main symptoms, if you experience any of the below, we advise you also book a PCR test. Many people who have recently tested positive for Covid-19 have also displayed some other symptoms, including:
- Runny or blocked nose
- Sore throat and/or hoarseness
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Flu-like symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
- Muscle ache or pain
- Persistent headache
Anyone experiencing the above symptoms should also arrange to have a PCR test, however they will only need to self-isolate if they have one or more of the primary symptoms.
Find out more about Covid-19 testing options available in Tower Hamlets here.
In addition to regular testing, all secondary school pupils will be strongly encouraged to take two PCR tests in the first week of the Autumn term.
From Monday 16 August, individuals are no longer required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with Covid-19, or are a close contact of someone with Covid-19, and any of the following apply:
- they are fully vaccinated ('double jabbed')
- they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
- they have taken part in, or are currently part of, an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial
- they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons.
This means that children will only need to self-isolate if they have one of the primary symptoms of Covid-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste), test positive for Covid-19, or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace.
Schools are no longer responsible for tracing the contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases, however they may issue letters to families advising them to get a test if someone in their child’s class tests positive.
Please tell your school immediately if your child tests positive for Covid-19 and was recently in school.
Covid-19 vaccinations are now available to everyone aged 16 and above. All eligible people are strongly encouraged to get two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine to give them the best possible protection against the virus. Find out how to get your vaccine locally here.
Children aged 12 to 15 can get vaccinated against Covid-19 if either:
- they live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
- they have a condition that means they're at high risk from Covid-19
Conditions that mean your child may be at high risk and can get vaccinated are:
- a severe problem with the brain or nerves, such as cerebral palsy
- Down's syndrome
- severe or multiple learning disabilities (or they're on the learning disability register)
- a condition that means they're more likely to get infections (such as some genetic conditions or types of cancer)
If your child is eligible for vaccination, you'll be contacted by a local NHS service such as their GP surgery to arrange their appointments.
This year we will also be extending the offer of free flu immunisation to all children aged two to 16. Find out more about flu immunisation in Tower Hamlets and where your child can be vaccinated here.
What support is available for families
View our advice and support page for a collection of links, advice, information, and support for parent/carers with school-aged children during Covid-19.
Department for Education
The Department for Education has information for parents and carers on their website gov.uk/backtoschool.
Family Information Service
If you need support you can call the council’s Family Information Service on 020 7364 6495 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
If you, or anyone you know, needs support with mental wellbeing visit good-thinking.uk to explore a range of free support, resources and apps available.
See also Mental health resources for children, students, parents, carers and school/college staff from the Department for Education.
The gov.uk website also contains guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. It covers stress, eating disorders, grieving, bullying, physical health, autism, children who care for others, learning disabilities , urgent support, and more.
For support arranging childcare when school starts again, or when you go back to work, call the Tower Hamlets Children’s Centre team on 020 7364 5277 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm) or visit the childcare and early years page for more.
Sign up to our residents' newsletter to get the latest information in your email inbox.