Updates, advice and guidance for parents and carers
Letters to parents and carers at the start of the spring term 2022
We have written a follow up letter to that shared with parents & carers just before the start of term asking for support to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and to help schools maintain face to face learning onsite. The letters include guidance on face coverings, social distancing and undertaking regular testing.
- Read the letter to parents and carers of primary aged children (issued 11 January 2022 and updated 17 January 2022)
- Read the letter to parents and carers of secondary and college aged young people (issued 11 January 2022 and updated 17 January 2022)
- Read the letter to parents and carers (issued 30 December 2021 and updated 17 January 2022)
Are schools and settings in Hackney open?
Yes. All schools and early years settings are open as usual and it is expected that all school aged children will attend everyday unless unwell. Please, however, check your school or setting’s website for any local arrangements.
For more information about school opening, please see the full government guidance, what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges.
What are schools doing to ensure my child is safe?
All schools and settings have undertaken risk assessments to reduce the risk of infection whilst staff and pupils are on site. This will include control measures such as good hygiene, ventilation, social distancing, testing, management of positive cases within the school community, as well as encouraging vaccination for all eligible students and staff.
In response to rising Covid-19 cases, Hackney has also recommended that face coverings be worn by staff and visitors as well as students in years 7 and above in communal areas. We have also recommended that whole school activities are held outside or, where appropriate, online.
If you have any concerns about your child’s attendance at school, please talk to the school about this. They will be able to provide reassurance and explain the measures put in place to reduce any risks.
Are staff and pupils required to wear face coverings?
Government guidance changed on 2 January 2022 to recommend that face coverings are worn in classrooms where pupils in year 7 and above are educated. The advice is short term only to support pupils and teachers as they return to school in the spring term 2022. It builds on existing guidance that recommends face coverings be worn in communal areas of all secondary settings. In primary and early years (EY) settings it is recommended that staff and visitors wear face coverings where social distancing cannot be maintained between adults. Children in these settings should not be asked to wear face coverings.
Pupils and students from Year 7 and above must also wear a face covering when travelling on public transport.
Some schools, settings and providers may choose to have local arrangements in place where face coverings are required (e.g. in response to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases). Please check with your child’s school.
Are staff and pupils required to undertake regular Covid-19 testing?
With up to 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 not displaying any symptoms, regular testing remains a vital tool to help us stay ahead of the virus.
We encourage all residents (and especially students in years 7 and above) to undertake twice-weekly regular testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs). This habit is as important as ever and we urge you to report all results using the government website (whether negative or positive).
Staff at early years, primary, secondary, special schools and settings and colleges are also being encouraged to undertake regular LFD testing. We also ask parents, guardians and other visitors to our schools and settings to take a lateral flow device (LFD) test before entering the setting.
Test kits can be obtained from your child’s secondary school / college or from rapid test centres and pharmacies around the borough. See more information about testing.
Testing at the start of January 2022 - At the start of the spring term 2022, all secondary school students will be asked to undertake an LFD test in school upon their return. Your child’s school will provide more information about this.
For more information about testing, see the government guidance, regular rapid lateral flow coronavirus (COVID-19) tests. The Council’s Coronavirus support webpage also provides local information, including how to get tested and where to get test kits from.
Covid-19 vaccination for children and young people
For most children and young people, COVID-19 is usually a milder illness that rarely leads to complications. It can, however, affect anyone, with some children and young people being at greater risk of severe disease than others - e.g., those with severe neurodisabilities, severe learning difficulties, down’s syndrome and other serious conditions.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends vaccination for the following groups who can now get their 1st dose and 2nd dose of the vaccine:
- children aged 12-15 years old (including children who turn 12 on the date of vaccination). 2nd doses can now be booked so long as it is at least 12 weeks since the first vaccine. Parent consent if required
- young people aged 16 to 17 years old. They can provide consent for vaccinations themselves
Booster vaccines are also available for everyone over the age of 18 and other eligible groups.
Booking an appointment for you or your child is easy by going online and using the national booking system or by calling 119.
Whilst it is acknowledged that there is a very small risk of side effects, the benefit of vaccination in reducing the risk of catching Covid-19 and / or becoming seriously unwell or dying is evident. Vaccination protects individuals and those around them as well as playing a crucial role in stopping the spread of the virus. We are, therefore, encouraging all adults (age 18 and over), 12-15 year olds and 17-18 year olds to take up the offer of vaccination when invited to do so.
Information about vaccination - Make sure any information you share about the vaccine comes from a trusted source such as the NHS website. Also see the following useful resources:
- information leaflets for young people regarding vaccination
- a video featuring young people and frontline staff telling their stories of being unwell with or treating patients with Covid-19 and helps to explain why vaccination is important
- information for parents about vaccines for 12-15 year olds
- Vaccination teaching resources
- Covid-19 vaccination videos by Public Health
What to do if you or your child has coronavirus symptoms
Stay at home for ten days if you have:
- a high temperature;
- a new continuous cough; or
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).
If you have the above symptoms, you should arrange to have a PCR test as soon as possible to see if you have COVID-19. This is different to the home (rapid/lateral flow device) test kits and must be booked or ordered online.
In addition to the three symptoms above, in Hackney we advise that you take a precautionary PCR test if you or your child experience any wider symptoms which are new, persistent or unusual such as:
- shortness of breath or wheezing
- loss of appetite
- muscle ache or pain
- sore throat and/or hoarseness
- persistent headache
- runny or blocked nose
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
If you feel unwell, stay at home and take a PCR test. You should also book a PCR test if you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
Read the stay at home guidance which sets out when and how to self isolate.
Information and support
There is a range of information and support about coronavirus on Hackney’s website (including testing and getting vaccinated, which are both essential ways to help slow the spread of the virus).