Coronavirus: Advice for Schools


On 18 March 2020, the Education Secretary announced schools would be closed for the vast majority of pupils until further notice.

Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision (Key Workers)

Update on Free School Meals

So far the advice has been that that we should keep schools open to reduce the pressure on the NHS and on other public services. But this has always been a balanced judgement and kept under constant review.

  •  Based on the latest advice, we will now close schools for the vast majority of pupils until further notice. In order to allow health and other critical workers to continue working, their children, and those who are vulnerable, will continue to attend school. 
  • Closing schools for the vast majority will help in our efforts to suppress the upward trend of the virus, while continuing to look after the children of key workers will be a critical part of our fightback against coronavirus.

By closing schools for the vast majority of children until further notice, it will mean there will be far fewer children in schools and that will help us to slow the spread of the disease.

We are:

  • Continuing to provide school places for the children of key workersto ensure our NHS and vital services continue to have the workforces they need. We need health workers and other critical workers –from police officers to supermarket delivery drivers–to keep going to work. So schools are being asked to make provision for the children of these people. These measures are crucial to make sure the critical parts of the economy keep functioning and public services keep functioning.
  • Looking after the most vulnerable children. Schools will also be asked to make provision for vulnerable children. For those children who rely on free school meals we will ensure that meals and vouchers are available. 
  • Asking private providers to follow the Government’s actions. We are asking nurseries and private schools to follow the Government’s lead in closing except for the children of key workers.

Children should not be looked after by older grandparents or relatives who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus.

Exams will not take place as planned in May and June. AS Levels or A Levels this summer and we will not be publishing performance tables for 2020. The aim is to make sure pupils receive their grades in August as normal, with a thorough appeals process. Grades will be calculated based on a range of data including mock exams and teacher assessment.

We are working with teachers, universities and pupils on the issue of exams by:

  • Working with the exam regulator, exam boards and teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.

  • Ensuring this year’s cohort of students aren’t disadvantaged by not sitting exams in the summer. The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years.

  • Giving students the chance to an exam in the autumn if they want to. If students don’t feel that correctprocess has been followed in their case, they will be able to appeal. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity.

  • Asking higher education providers not to change their offers to students for two weeks to maintain stability. We are asking providers to refrain from changing their offers made to undergraduate students for the next two weeks, such as converting conditional offers to unconditional offers or changing entry requirements. This is because a small number of universities have changed a significant proportion of their offers to undergraduate students from ‘conditional’ to ‘unconditional’ to secure their attendance for the academic year.


Guidance for education settings:

  • Staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal.
  • If staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products.
  • Supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues.
  • Posters and lesson plans on general hand hygiene can be found on the eBug website


What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site

If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance.


If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible and if appropriate, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Settings should be mindful of individual children’s needs – for example it would not be appropriate for younger children to be alone without adult supervision. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.

If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.


If they need clinical advice, they (or their teacher, parent or guardian) should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.

In most cases, closure of the educational setting will not be needed but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread.


If there is an urgent public health action to take, the educational setting will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team who will undertake a risk assessment and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. PHE will rarely advise a school to close but this may be necessary if there are so many staff being isolated that the school has operational issues. Your local authority will support you to make this assessment. PHE will work with the headteacher, principal or management team, and the Local Authority Public Health team, to advise on the management of children, pupils, students or staff.


Limiting spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings

Education settings can help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reminding everyone of the public health advice.


Staff, children, pupils, students and families should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.

Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products. Posters, leaflets and other materials are available.


Cleaning and Waste

See guidance on cleaning and waste disposal.


Tools for use in childcare and educational settings

There is a dedicated helpline number for educational settings – please call 0800 046 8687 for any specific question not covered on this page.


PHE has resource materials that contain public health advice about how you can help stop the spread of viruses, like those that cause coronavirus (COVID-19), by practising good respiratory and hand hygiene. To access, download and share this information, you will need to register for an account which only takes a couple of minutes.


Use e-Bug resources to teach pupils about hygiene.


More Information Here