1 Back to school
We want every child and young person in West Sussex to feel excited and confident about returning to or starting school.
Schools and colleges will be reopening from Thursday 2 September and pupils will be expected to attend as normal, provided they do not have COVID-19 or are showing any symptoms.
Nationally, we are in Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap where restrictions have eased as we learn to live with COVID-19. However, rates remain high in West Sussex and the public health advice is that we should continue to take precautions in our day-to-day lives.
- wearing a face covering when in close contact with those we don’t normally mix with
- washing our hands frequently
- letting fresh air into our homes and workplaces
- continuing to practice social distancing where possible.
Taking these steps will help support your school, college or nursery in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks and reduce the disruption West Sussex pupils have already experienced.
Secondary and college-aged pupils are asked to take two rapid tests at their school when they return. However, pupils who have tested positive on a PCR test in the last 90 days should not participate in the return to school testing, because it could show a false positive result.
If a child or young person has COVID-19 symptoms, please book a PCR test and do not attend school. Your school will provide you with remote learning.
2 COVID-19 measures in schools
Your school will be in touch about any specific arrangements they have in place.
From the start of term
- Secondary schools and colleges are asked to carry out on-site testing during the first week students go back (unless they have tested positive on a PCR in the last 90 days). After that, secondary and college pupils and staff should continue to take regular rapid tests (LFD) at home to identify infections early and reduce transmission.
- Children of primary age and below do not need to undergo regular, symptom-free testing.
- There will no longer be classroom ‘bubbles’ which were in place last year.
- Those aged under 18 years 6 months, who are identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should continue to attend school as normal, provided they are showing no symptoms. They will be asked to take a PCR test.
- Adults who have had both vaccinations are also no longer required to self-isolate if identified as a contact. This is if their second jab has been at least 14 days ago and, if taken abroad, was approved in the UK. Full guidance is available on GOV.UK.
- Secondary students and staff are encouraged to wear a face covering in enclosed and crowded spaces in their school and on school and public transport, although the legal requirement to do so has been removed.
- Schools will no longer be asked to trace close contacts - this will be done by NHS Test and Trace.
3 How schools manage cases
Your school has its own robust risk assessment in place which details the measures they have to reduce COVID-19 transmission and how cases and outbreaks will be managed.
West Sussex County Council’s public health and education teams will work with local Health Protection Teams to assist a setting in managing an outbreak where needed. This may result in additional protective measures being introduced temporarily, which could include increased testing, more widespread use of face coverings, the reintroduction of bubbles or, as a last resort, some children being asked to temporarily learn from home.
Any necessary changes will be clearly communicated with all affected pupils, their families and staff.
If you, or your child, have specific health concerns, additional needs or a disability which is making you anxious about going back, you should speak directly to your school.
You can find out about the services we offer to 0-25 year olds with Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities on the West Sussex Local Offer.
4 COVID-19 information for young people and families
Find information about COVID-19 for children and young people including getting tested, vaccinations and support.
5 Emotional wellbeing and mental health
The pandemic has caused huge disruption to children’s schooling and social lives. In many cases this has had a huge effect on people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.
If you know a young person who’s struggling, help and advice is available. They might be feeling anxious, lonely, have low mood; whatever it is, there are people who can help.
You may find these resources helpful and, if you’re in need of further support, here are details of who you can contact:
- West Sussex YourSpace - Information and advice for young people and details of how to contact our Youth Emotional Support (YES) service, available for 11 to 18 year olds. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 033 022 26711.
- e-wellbeing - Provides emotional health and wellbeing advice to young people and how to connect to support across Sussex.
- Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust has a dedicated area with information for children and young people.
- Recipes 4 Wellbeing cards - For parents/carers supporting a young person with help and advice on a range of difficulties and what to look out for and when you should be concerned.
- Young Minds - UK’s mental health charity for children and young people which includes lots of information, resource and advice for children, young people and their families.