12 February 2020 Children and learning

Advice to schools in the city on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The information in this news story was correct at the time of publishing. Find the latest updates on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

All schools in the city currently remain open.  

Public Health England (PHE) and the office of the Chief Medical Officer are clear in their advice that schools do not need to close. 

Support has been given to schools about their options if they’ve been informed that staff or pupils have been advised by Public Health England to self-isolate for 14 days. 

This is known to have been an issue for a few schools where members of their community had contact with an individual from Brighton & Hove who has tested positive for coronavirus. 

At present no school has decided to close. Headteachers and school governing bodies are carefully considering the actions to take based on the individual circumstances at the school and with the wellbeing of pupils as paramount. 

Some schools have given an option for pupils to stay at home and we understand that parents’ and carers’ will be concerned and are considering this.

Should I send my child to school?

Yes. The safety, welfare and wellbeing of all in our schools community is our primary concern and a constant dialogue has, and will continue, to take place with the relevant authorities.  The council is working in collaboration with and is being guided by, Public Health England and the NHS to ensure that we are giving all schools the right advice.

Public Health England and the office of the Chief Medical Officer are clear in their advice that schools do not need to close.  

Please also be aware that media speculation is rife about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and not everything you read in the newspapers and online is accurate. 

At this present time, there is low risk for anyone attending our school. On advice from the Chief Medical Officer, the risk has been declared as "moderate" - a level which allows government to plan for all eventualities but that ultimately, that the risk to individuals remains "low".

The release of trusted and accurate information will always be released initially by the Chief Medical Officer. Further guidance will then be issued by Public Health England, the Department for Health and Social Care or the NHS. The Local Authority will also support those messages.

You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England at www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The following information from Public Health England has been shared with all schools in the city. 

What is self-isolation?

Public Health England is prioritising contacting people who might have had close and sustained contact with an individual from Brighton & Hove who has tested positive for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.  

Self-isolating is a precaution to provide people with health advice about any symptoms in case they become unwell. These people are being advised to “self-isolate” which means they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people as a precaution. It does not mean they are ill and people who have had contact with these individuals do not need to take action. 

Those who have been told to ‘self-isolate’ are being asked to avoid other people and stay at home and not go to work or school. During this time, they will be supported by Public Health England, who are monitoring them and will undertake further testing if they show any symptoms of the virus, and provide any further care needed.

My school has said it will authorise absences if I don’t send my child to school 
Decisions about school attendance are being made at a school level after careful consideration. Details are on school websites where they’ve been made public.  

Please contact your school if you are thinking about keeping your child at home.  

We recognise the challenges being faced by our excellent school leaders. Support and advice is being offered to headteachers by the council schools team and Deb Austin, interim director of Families, Children and Learning Directorate. 

Hygiene advice from Public Health England

Like with other illnesses, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact. 
 
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands with soap and water
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact.

You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England at www.gov.uk/coronavirus