Back to school safely

The government are planning for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school and college full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.

Schools in Cumbria will be open to all pupils in September.

Returning to school is vital for:

  • children's educational progress
  • wellbeing
  • wider development

This is why we need to ensure all pupils return to school sooner rather than later.

The opening of schools also allows those who are caring for children to resume their normal working lives.

The risk to children of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school.

If you have any concerns about your child returning to school, get in touch with the individual school directly and have a chat through those worries with the teachers.

With common coughs, colds and sneezes around it's tricky to know when and if you should get a COVID-19 test for your child. 

The current guidance is, whether or not you have common cold symptoms first, if you develop a high temperature or a cough it must be treated as a possible COVID-19 symptom, and your child must isolate and get tested.

The NHS provides a more detailed definition for each of the three COVID-19 symptoms:

  • a high temperature - measured as 37.8°C or above. If you don't have a thermometer, feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back is a good indicator of a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

We have also produced a quick guide for parents and carers to help:

Covid poster for parents (PDF 97KB)

Some of you will have concerns about your children returning to school in September. The safety of children and young people is a priority for the council.

There is clear evidence that the risk to children from COVID-19 infection is lower than in the general population.

The rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased since schools and colleges restricted their opening in March, the NHS Test and Trace system is up and running and we understand more about how to create safer environments in schools.

Safety measures in school

Schools have been working hard to put in place protective measures such as:

  • staff and pupils cleaning their hands more often
  • ensuring good respiratory hygiene (for example, adopting the 'catch it, bin it, kill it' approach with coughs and sneezes)
  • introducing enhanced cleaning including for frequently touched surfaces; and 
  • minimising contact and maintaining social distancing between individuals by keeping groups separate with the 'bubble' approach.

It is important to understand that protective measures will differ between schools based on their risk assessments they have carried out.

On 25 August, it was announced that children in Year 7 and above in lockdown areas should wear face coverings in communal school spaces. Outside of lockdown areas, face coverings will not be required in schools, but schools have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances.

A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in September because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves, or because they are a close contact of someone who has Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Act on symptoms

If your child or someone in your household has symptoms then you should not send your child to school.

Anyone who has symptoms should get tested for COVID-19 and then follow the advice given. Please let school know if your child is tested and let them know the result.

If your child becomes unwell in school, they will be isolated from other pupils and you will be asked to come and collect them immediately. School will provide advice about what to do next.

If a school year group or whole school has to close because of an outbreak then plans will be in place for pupils to make sure that they receive an education away from the classroom.

Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

National guidance says that in the majority of cases staff in schools do not need PPE, even where it is not always possible to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others.

Schools will keep up to date with the latest guidance from Public Health England and the Department for Education on when PPE is needed in schools and how to use it and dispose of it safely and appropriately.

Cumbria County Council will be offering support through its Public Health team along with Public Health England to respond to any cases that happen within a school.

If you have any concerns, then you should contact the individual school directly and have a chat through those concerns with the teachers.

The Government has said that school attendance will be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term once again. This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will apply and you can be prosecuted if you do not give your child an education. 

Given the situation, the education system in Cumbria is keen to work with parents, carers and young people to provide the necessary reassurance which will support a return to school without the need for enforcement action.

Prosecution is always a last resort.

Schools will encourage parents, staff and pupils to walk or cycle to school if at all possible. For some families, driving children to school will also be an option.

The government is advising that the use of public transport by pupils is kept to an absolute minimum during peak times to reduce demand on the system and ensure that it is available for those who need it most.

You should not travel at all if you:

  • Are experiencing any coronavirus symptoms
  • Are self-isolating as a result of coronavirus symptoms or sharing a household or support bubble with somebody with symptoms
  • Are clinically extremely vulnerable and cannot shield during your journey
  • Have been advised by the NHS test and trace service that you should self-isolate

Dedicated school transport

Many children in Cumbria travel on dedicated school transport to get to school. On dedicated school transport:

  • social distancing will not apply
  • face coverings should be worn wherever possible while travelling, however these will not be provided
  • hand sanitiser will be provided on board all dedicated school transport vehicles and it should be used by pupils when getting on, and getting off the bus
  • children should try to sit within their school bubbles on vehicles, but this is not a requirement and will not always be possible
  • schools may have arranged a seating plan on the vehicle, you should make sure your child is aware of this, and follow the school instructions
  • hygiene, cleaning and reporting procedures have been put in place to minimise the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and risk assessments have been completed by transport services and schools.

If you do not intend to make use of a free or subsidised transport place for your child please contact providing the name, date of birth and school attended of your child.

More information about school transport.


Full uniform is expected to be worn for all schools. Check with the individual school for the uniform requirements.

There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a school. Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often or differently than usual.

School uniform grants are available to support parents who have faced financial impact due to the coronavirus pandemic. The grant will help parents with uniform costs. 

School meals

As all pupils are set to return to school next month, the national voucher scheme for children on free school meals will come to an end.

Schools will provide free school meals as usual for those who are eligible.

The normal legal requirements will apply about provision of food to all pupils who want it, including for those eligible for benefits-related free school meals or universal infant free school meals.

Free school meals

Extra-curricular activities

Schools can run breakfast and after-school activities. Schools need to make sure these can be run safely, so they may need to run things differently and adapt over time.

You should talk to your child's school about whether or not they will be able to run breakfast and after-school activities immediately.

School closures (4)

    Langdale CofE School
    Closed on the advice of Cumbria Public Health
      015394 37204
    - CLOSED:  Wed 21 Oct 2020
    - RE-OPENS:  Tues 3 Nov 2020
    Sir John Barrow School

      01229 483960
    - CLOSED:  Mon 19 Oct 2020
    - RE-OPENS:  Mon 2 Nov 2020
    St Bede's Catholic Primary School

      01228 528274
    - CLOSED:  Tues 20 Oct 2020
    - RE-OPENS:  Mon 2 Nov 2020
    St Cuthbert's Catholic Primary School - Windermere

      015394 48125
    - CLOSED:  Tues 20 Oct 2020
    - RE-OPENS:  Mon 2 Nov 2020
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