Coronavirus Related Absences

Attendance expectations

Attendance is mandatory. The usual rules on attendance continue to apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to ensure that their child of compulsory school age attends regularly at the school where the child is a registered pupil

  • schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence

  • the ability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct

  •  the duty on local authorities to put in place arrangements for identifying, and to follow up with, children missing education

The schools COVID-19 operational guidance sets out when pupils should self-isolate and when they ought to be tested in the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

In line with current legislation, and guidance from PHE (and its successor the UKHSA) and DHSC, examples are as follows:

Pupils who are required to self-isolate as they have symptoms of COVID-19

Pupils who have symptoms of COVID-19, or have had a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test, should self-isolate and get a confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Confirmatory PCR tests to be temporarily suspended for positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results

Confirmatory PCR tests following a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are to be temporarily suspended from Tuesday 11 January. This will mean that anyone who receives a positive LFD test result will be required to self-isolate immediately and will not be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.

If a pupil tests negative and if they feel well, they can stop self-isolating and return to school. If the pupil remains unwell following the test (such as with a different illness), then they will be recorded as code I (illness). Code X will only be used up until the time of the negative test result. We would not retrospectively change the attendance register due to a negative test result.

If a pupil tests positive, they should continue to self-isolate in line with public health guidance. Code X will be used for the period of self-isolation until the test. After the pupil tests positive, they will be recorded as code I (illness) until they are able to return to school.

Pupils who are a close contact of someone who has symptoms or confirmed COVID-19

From 14 December 2021, adults who are fully vaccinated and all children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months (pupils) identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 are strongly advised to take a LFD test every day for 7 days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result.

Daily testing of close contacts applies to all contacts who are:

  • fully vaccinated adults – people who have had 2 doses of an approved vaccine

  • all children and young people aged 5 to 18 years and 6 months (pupils), regardless of their vaccination status

  • people who are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

  • people taking part, or have taken part, in an approved clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine

 

Although close contacts are strongly advised to get a test, they should continue to attend school unless they are symptomatic. We will follow up with families if we are not satisfied with the reason as to why the pupil is not in school. Schools can request supporting evidence from the family. Where we are not satisfied with the reason given for absence, we may record this using one of the unauthorised absence codes, in line with the school attendance: guidance for schools.

 

Pupils with SEND identified as close contacts should be supported by their school and their families to agree the most appropriate route for testing including, where appropriate, additional support to assist swabbing. For further information please see SEND guidance.

Further information is available in NHS Test and Trace: what to do if you are contacted and in the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

 

Pupils who are required by legislation to self-isolate as part of a period of quarantine

As usual, parents should plan their holidays within school breaks and avoid seeking permission to take their children out of school during term time. Families should also consider that their child may need to self-isolate following trips overseas that require a period of quarantine. If a pupil is required to be in quarantine on arrival in, or return to, the UK, the school should use code X in the register.

Pupils who are self-isolating but who have not had a PCR test

In line with public health advice, pupils with symptoms must self-isolate and we strongly encourage pupils to take a PCR test. Where the pupil is unable to take a PCR test, the school should record the pupil as code X in the register.

 

Schools should follow up with families if they are not satisfied with the reason as to why the pupil is not in school. Schools can request supporting evidence from the family. Where the school is not satisfied with the reason given for absence, they may record this using one of the unauthorised absence codes, in line with the school attendance: guidance for schools.