Information for parents

There has been an increase in the number of cases, and suspected cases, of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Plymouth in recent weeks.

This is resulting in a number of confirmed cases in schools.

As a city we still have fewer cases than the national average but the increase is a concern and shows the importance of everyone carefully following the guidance on how to stay safe and protect our families.

The following information is to help answer some of the questions parents of school age children may have.

When to book your child a test for COVID-19

You should book a test for your child if they have the symptoms of coronavirus, which are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

You can book a test online at GOV.UK. If you have problems using the online service you can call 119.

As soon as you have symptoms of coronavirus you must self-isolate at home. The guidance on what you need to do is on the NHS website.

Current issues with testing 

There is currently a national problem which is means some people are finding it hard to book a test, or have been offered a test outside Plymouth.

Some people have also experienced delays in getting test results back. These issues are due to a lack of capacity nationally in the laboratories that process the tests.

To help ensure that those who need a test are able to get one please only try and book a test if:

  • You have symptoms of coronavirus
  • You are asked to do so by a health professional or the NHS Test and Trace Service

Please do not book a test otherwise, or turn up at the testing station without an appointment. Do not go to Derriford Hospital as you will not be given a test.

To ensure that children who have symptoms of coronavirus can get a test, we have worked with our partners in University Hospitals Plymouth, Livewell South West and Devon CCG to provide some additional local testing.

This does not replace the national testing offer which should be tried first.

There are three steps to take if your child is showing symptoms of coronavirus:

1: Try to book a test through the national testing website or via NHS 119 first– please keep trying as more tests are added throughout the day

2: If you are unable to obtain a test through the national system then you can now email:

d-ccg.cornwalldevon.urgenttesting@nhs.net explaining that the test is for a symptomatic child attending a Plymouth school.

3: You will then be contacted to discuss your circumstances and if appropriate given an appointment for testing. Testing is usually undertaken only in people with COVID19 symptoms.

We understand the frustration this problem with testing is causing and are pressing for it be urgently resolved.

Attending school

The Government guidance is that all pupils should be attending school as usual for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development.

All schools have carried out risk assessments and have measures in place to keep pupils safe.

Children should not attend school if they are showing any of the symptoms of coronavirus. If your child shows symptoms they should stay and home and you should arrange a test. Other members of the household should also self-isolate.

Dropping off and collecting children

If you drop and collect your child from school please strictly maintain social distancing at all times.

There have been issues outside some schools with parents congregating around the entrances and not social distancing.

This puts not only the welfare of families at risk but also the whole school community.

Please also remember that meeting in groups of more than six is now not allowed.

If there is a confirmed case in your child’s school

If there is a confirmed case in a school, Public Health England and the City Council’s public health team will work with school’s leadership team to ensure staff and pupils take any necessary measures to stop the virus spreading.

They will establish who the confirmed case has been in contact with and which other pupils will need to self-isolate for 14 days. In some instances this will be a class or year group ‘bubble’. The size of these bubbles will depend on the risk assessment carried out by the school.

These measures are considered carefully as it is understood that they can cause considerable inconvenience to families. However, they are very important to keeping your child and your family safe and stopping the spread of the virus in the community.

All other pupils in the school should continue to attend school unless told otherwise.

If your child is asked to self-isolate

If your child is asked to self-isolate but is not showing symptoms, they need to stay at home for 14 days.

The school will aim to ensure learning can continue during this period.

Siblings of a child asked to self-isolate for this reason should attend school as usual, unless told otherwise.

Please ensure that if your child is asked to self-isolate they do not leave home or socialise with friends. If they start to show symptoms, please arrange a test for them.

Keep up the measures to stay safe

Some people admit that they are less careful with social distancing and washing hands than they were a few months ago.

As cases rise in Plymouth, now is the time to keep checking that everyone in our family is carrying out these simple measures:

Wash hands – keep washing your hands regularly

Cover face – cover your face if you are likely to be close to others in an enclosed space; doing this protects each other.

Make space – keep your distance from everyone except your household contacts, or those people who you consider to be your ‘support bubble’.