Monday 7th September 2020
We are receiving a lot of telephone calls each morning regarding children with coughs etc and whether or not they should come in to school. I appreciate the whole issue is very confusing – for you as well as us.
Here is a copy of what we have in front of us when we advise you on the phone. If your child has a ‘heavy’ cold, I have highlighted the section below that is relevant.
But what is a ‘heavy cold.’ Basically if your child is coughing and spluttering as we say in Northern Ireland, then keep them off, based on this advice! If we see this happening when they arrive at school, we’re only going to ask you to take them home anyway.
As I’ve said before, we’re not medical experts, we’re just doing our best to keep this school open for the majority of our pupils – and if we get it wrong, then I’ll apologise in advance.
Symptoms and Testing
In recent days the Public Health Agency has seen a significant increase in individuals requesting a COVID-19 test where they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.
Testing is only available for individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been advised by the Public Health Agency Contact Tracing Service to have a test.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- 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); or
- A high temperature/fever – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature); or
- A loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.
If an individual does not have these specific symptoms, they do not require a test. Schools should not ask pupils or staff to book a COVID-19 test unless they have one or more of the symptoms above.
At this time of year, it is common for colds and similar viral infections to circulate. In many cases, children will be well enough to attend school and continue their learning with little or no interruption to their education. In other cases, for instance where they have quite a heavy cold, they may need to take a day or two off to recover.
If a pupil or staff member does not have symptoms of COVID-19 but has other cold-like symptoms, they do not need to be tested and do not need to self-isolate. The individual can attend school if fit to do so.
Additionally, where a pupil displays gastrointestinal symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, they should not attend school until they have not been sick or had diarrhoea for at least 2 days. In these instances, they should follow the school’s usual attendance policy in respect of these symptoms.
Where an individual has COVID-19 symptoms and they refuse to book a test, they should not return to school for 14 days.