Following government guidance, schools will reopen in the autumn term. Schools will run differently and should have safety measures in place. All children must return to school. Children can only stay home if they:
have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves
are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus
Ask the school what homeschooling support they can provide if your child has to stay home.
If your child has found lockdown difficult, the school may suggest a phased return. They will only do this if it meets your child’s needs and you agree in advance.
If you have concerns about your child returning to school, contact the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) or Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCO). They should explain what changes they are making to reduce risks.
If your child cannot go to school because they are following clinical or public health advice, talk to the school about what to do next.
Children with SEN and EHCPs
Some schools may do a risk assessment for children with SEN or Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). They do not have to do an assessment but should contact you and involve you in plans for returning to school. They should also involve young people over 16 who have EHC plans.
Contact the school by phone or email if they have not contacted you.
Years 7 and above may also need to wear face masks or coverings. It’s up to the school to decide if they will use face masks and where students should wear a mask. For example, in common rooms where students cannot stay 1 metre apart.
Children with certain health conditions will not have to wear a mask.
Organise a call or video call with your child’s SENCO, ALNCO or teachers to talk about returning to school.
If English is not your first language or you use British Sign Language (BSL), ask what support is available for you to arrange a meeting so that you’re comfortable.
You may want to ask:
what safety measures will be in place, like face masks and social distancing
which staff will work with your child and how they can get to know them before returning
if transport will be available, for example if your child usually takes the school bus
what other changes your child should expect
what you can do to prepare your child for returning to school
You could also share any concerns you have, like:
changes to your child’s routine
your child falling behind or feeling unprepared for the new school year
their transition to a new school
not enough educational support when they return
how they’ll socialise safely with other children
how the situation will affect their wellbeing and the rest of your family
If you have a difficult relationship with the school, try to keep the focus on your child’s wellbeing. Say that you’d like to work with them to make sure your child can return smoothly. For example, you could keep a diary to show how your child is coping at the moment.
If your child is older, ask if they want to be on the call with you. Let the school know if they do, and if they have specific worries or triggers at the moment.
If your child is moving to a different school, try to organise a video call with staff from both. Ask what the schools are doing if they can no longer offer transition days to students.
No one knows your child and how they respond to change better than you. Once you know what the changes are, it can help to share these with your child so they know what to expect. You could try a few different ways, depending on your child's needs. For example:
use drawings to show them how their classroom may look
show them photos of new staff
show them handwashing, social distancing and other safety measures
show them face masks and gloves so they’re familiar with them
tell them about their new routine or create a visual timetable, including what time they’ll get up, how they’ll get to school, lunch time and returning home
ask them about any worries they have if they’re anxious about returning
If you have an older child, they may have different concerns about their return to school. For example, pressure from friends to break social distancing rules. Ask them about their worries and reassure them that you’ll help them adapt as things change.