What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during COVID-19

Information for parents and carers about attending schools, nurseries and colleges.

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Applies to England



Information for parents and carers of children at:

  • registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders)
  • primary and secondary schools (including independent schools, maintained schools, academy trusts, free schools and special schools)
  • colleges (for the purposes of this guidance ‘colleges’ means publicly funded sixth form and further education colleges, independent training providers and special post-16 institutions)

Updates to this page

Published 18 June 2020
Last updated 25 February 2022 + show all updates
  1. We’ve updated the guidance to reflect new public health guidance on tracing close contacts, isolation and when someone has symptoms or a positive test.

  2. Updated to reflect the end of the asymptomatic testing programme. Reference made to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance on contact tracing and isolation which comes into effect from Thursday 24 February 2022.

  3. Updated information on the use of face coverings, use of NHS COVID passes, keeping settings safe, isolation for boarding school pupils and working from home.

  4. Updated guidance in line with the UKHSA announcement about confirmatory PCR tests and clarifying that children can return to school after day 7 if they've had 2 negative LFD tests.

  5. Updated to include the use of face coverings in classrooms for year 7 and above.

  6. Updated information on rapid testing, tracing close contacts and isolation.

  7. Following the Prime Minister's announcement on 8 December 2021, we have updated guidance on school attendance, use of face coverings, contact tracing and isolation, wraparound provision and use of the NHS COVID Pass.

  8. Updated guidance on face coverings, contact tracing and isolation, vaccinations, and holidays and travel to reflect new measures announced on 27 November 2021.

  9. Added information on universal vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds, updated sections on self-isolation, education recovery and guidance for critically extremely vulnerable children and young people to reflect that no under-18s are now considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable and all have been removed from the shielding patient list. Clarified the circumstances in which schools may be advised to reintroduce ‘bubbles'.

  10. Updated information about tracing and isolation and travelling to boarding schools.

  11. Updated to confirm changes from 19 July.

  12. Clarified that "From 19 July, the government is removing the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don't normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college."

  13. Published new guidance including updates on testing, face coverings, contact tracing, isolating and bubbles, which come into force from Step 4 of the Roadmap. The current guidance (dated May 2021) remains in place until Step 4.

  14. Updated guidance for parents in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, including information on face coverings, testing, travel abroad and educational visits.

  15. Edited to clarify current guidance and to be more reader-friendly.

  16. We have updated advice on the use of face coverings in education and updated information to reflect commencement of step 2 of the COVID-19 response – spring 2021.

  17. Updated guidance on home testing for students, changes to shielding, returning to boarding schools, Test and Trace support payments, wraparound provision, school trips, confirmatory PCR tests for secondary and college-aged students and Ofsted Inspections.

  18. Updated information on returning to boarding school from overseas and elective home education.

  19. Added information on asymptomatic testing for parents and adults in households with children at school or college.

  20. Changed the guidance document 'What parents need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during COVID-19' to an accessible version.

  21. Update 'What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges', up to and after the full reopening on 8 March 2021.

  22. Updated sections on attending nursery, school and college, remote education, exams, asymptomatic testing and lateral flow tests, Ofsted inspections, entry tests for selective schools, food, and EHC plans.

  23. This guidance has been updated following the PHE position statement on daily contact testing.

  24. Added information about updates coming shortly.

  25. Updated to reflect the new national restrictions that were introduced on 5 January 2021.

  26. Updated to reflect announcements about the phased return of secondary schools and colleges and the use of the contingency framework in some primary schools.

  27. Added information about tier 4 restrictions and returning in January 2021.

  28. Updated the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days from the day after contact with an individual who tested positive - in the 'self-isolation' and 'actions that nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will take' sections.

  29. Updated the information on primary assessments and GCSE and A Level exams in summer 2021, Ofsted inspections and exams for selective schools.

  30. Updated to reflect the local restrictions, including changes to the sections on shielding, face coverings, school and college trips and extra-curricular activities. We have also added information about performances in schools.

  31. We have updated this guidance to include information on the national restrictions by adding a 'national restrictions' section and updating the relevant information about face coverings, clinically extremely vulnerable children and extra curricular activities.

  32. Added a link to the new national restrictions from 5 November guidance.

  33. We have updated this guidance to include changes to information on self-isolation and shielding, who needs to get a test for coronavirus (COVID-19), face coverings, assessment and exams.

  34. Updated information on alert levels.

  35. Updated information about the use of face coverings.

  36. We have added new information on school admissions. We have updated the information on travelling to and from nursery, childminders, school and college, education, health and care (EHC) plans, wellbeing, online safety and assessment and exams.

  37. Removed 'What parents and carers need to know about nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges until August 2020' as now out of date.

  38. Update to the transport section in the guidance for this summer term - 'What parents and carers need to know about nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges until August 2020'. These changes ensure consistency with guidance from the Department for Transport.

  39. Added guidance for parents and carers about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term.

  40. We have added content on summer provision, school uniform and a package of support worth £1billion to support pupils to catch up. We have updated content on school meals and the Covid Summer Food Fund.

  41. First published.

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