Coronavirus advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - updates, advice and guidance for parents and carers

Are schools and settings in Hackney open?

Yes. All schools and early years settings are open as usual. 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 the use of strict social distancing, increased hand washing, enhanced cleaning around the school, separation of groups through the use of “bubbles”, staggered start / finish times, use of asymptomatic testing, etc.

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?

For a period whilst there continues to be a high prevalence of Covid-19 in the community, for children in year 7 and above, it is recommended that face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. In secondary schools, face coverings should also be worn in classrooms or during activities unless social distancing can be maintained.  

Whilst children in early years settings or primary schools do not need to wear a face covering, it is recommended that these should be worn by staff and adult visitors where social distancing between adults is not possible.  

Will staff and pupils need to be tested for Covid-19 before going back to school?

Rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFD)s will support the return to face-to face education by helping to identify people who are asymptomatic, i.e., infectious but do not have any coronavirus (Covid-19) symptoms.

During the week commencing 8 March, pupils were offered asymptomatic testing on site in secondary schools and colleges. After 3 tests in school / college, all secondary aged pupils and college students will be given home test kits and will be asked to regularly test themselves twice a week at home and report results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as to their school or college. Testing remains voluntary but is strongly encouraged.

Early years and primary age pupils will not be tested.

Testing for children and young people in specialist schools and settings is voluntary and no child or young person will be tested unless informed consent has been given by the appropriate person.

Staff at early years settings, maintained nursery schools, secondary and special schools will be provided with home LFD tests for regular testing.

Please contact your school for more information about this and, where required, to give your consent for testing to be completed. 

In addition, households (including childcare and support bubbles) of primary, secondary and college age children and young people also have access to regular twice weekly lateral flow testing. This will help reduce the spread of the virus and we encourage all families to take up this offer.

This will be available:

  • through your employer, if they offer testing to employees
  • by collecting a home test kit from a local test site. Anyone aged 18 or over can collect 2 packs of 7 tests from the following local testing stations in Hackney - Hackney Central (Mare Street, E9 6ND), Bentley Road (Bentley Road Carpark, N1 4BZ) and Rockwood Road (former bus garage, N16 6SD)
  • from 15 March onwards, Community Collect will be a service where you can collect test kits locally. Please keep checking Hackney Council's website for updates.
  • by ordering a home test kit online – please do not order online if you can access testing through other routes, this frees up home delivery for those who need it most

Hackney’s website has more information about test sites in the borough or you can find your nearest testing site nationally.

For more information about testing, see the government guidance, households and bubbles of pupils, students and staff of schools, nurseries and colleges: get rapid lateral flow tests.

Are out-of-school settings open?

Before and after-school educational activities and wraparound childcare will begin to resume from 8 March for certain essential purposes. This includes for vulnerable children and young people or where it is necessary to support parents to work, attend education and access medical care, and is as part of pupil’s wider education and training.

Government guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak provides more information on what provision may be available as well as how you can check with a provider that they have put in place protective measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Will my child still get free school meals?

Once schools and settings reopen to all children, free school meals will be provided as normal. New applications for free school meals will still be processed in the same way as before. Please apply online for free school meals.  

Find out more about the provision of free school meals during the coronavirus lockdown.

Some families who have no recourse to public funds may also be eligible for free school meals under a temporary extension to free school meal eligibility. Please contact your school for more information and to apply under this extension.

If your child is eligible for free school meals, but has been told to self isolate at home, your school should provide you with a lunch parcel for the short period where they are unable to attend school.

Keep London safe

These resources provide information about the Covid vaccination and other ways of keeping London safe.

Getting to and from school and settings

We know a significant number of Hackney pupils use public transport to get to school or college. However we also know that 85% of pupils live within 2 miles of school: a distance which is walkable by the great majority.

We are encouraging pupils to use active travel means, walking or cycling, wherever possible. This avoids public transport, saves money if fares have to be paid - and is the healthiest option.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - advice for parents during coronavirus

Whilst coronavirus is infectious to children, it is rarely serious. If a child is unwell it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself.

Whilst it is extremely important to follow Government advice to stay at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when a child is unwell or injured.

NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done. A downloadable poster with advice is available from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health website. 

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 test as soon as possible to see if you have COVID-19 – find out more about what testing is and how to arrange a test.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 10 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

Read the stay at home guidance which sets out when and how to self isolate.

Advice and guidance

There is a range of advice and guidance available on the gov.uk website. Please note that this information is regularly updated and you should, therefore, refer back to it for any changes

In addition, the NSPCC has created a number of resources to support parents and carers during this difficult time. Topics include:

  • Talking to a child worried about coronavirus
  • Parents working from home
  • Children staying home alone
  • Lockdown and separated parents
  • How to cope with tantrums and other difficult behaviour

This advice can be found on the NSPCC website.

What other action you should take

A UK-wide campaign has been launched to provide clear advice on how to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Please help to support the campaign which promotes basic hygiene practices, such as regularly washing hands and always sneezing into a tissue (and then immediately disposing of it), to stem the spread of viruses.

See the NHS advice about washing your hands

This page was last modified on: 16 Mar 2021