Returning to school for the new term might mean you’re feeling a bit nervous – but you’re not alone.

Because of the rise in coronavirus cases, due to Omicron, guidance about keeping you safe at school has been updated. We’ve answered and updated some of the questions you might have below.

Will I still need to wear a face mask when I return to school?
Secondary School:
  • If you’re in secondary school, you will still be asked to wear a face mask at school for most of the time. This includes in classrooms, communal areas and when moving about the school.
  • If you use school transport, you will also be asked to wear a face mask during your journeys to and from school.
  • Not everyone is able to wear a face mask. If you don’t think you need to, it’s best to check with a member of staff from your school.
Primary School:
  • If you’re in primary school, you don’t have to wear a face mask at school unless your doctor has suggested you should.
  • You will need to wear a face mask on the school bus or other school transport though, unless your support needs mean you don’t have to wear one.
  • If you would like to wear a face mask you should be allowed to do so.

Click here to find out more about wearing face masks in school

Will I need to be tested for coronavirus when I return to school?

To reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus at your school, you may be asked to do a lateral flow test at home. This advice remains the same. However, it is completely voluntary. This means you cannot be forced to take a coronavirus test.

Even if you choose not to do the test, you should still be allowed to go to school.

Click here to find out more about lateral flow coronavirus testing

What if someone in my school has coronavirus?

Every school has plans in place to respond quickly and safely if anyone develops coronavirus symptoms while at school.

If you show symptoms, you would be kept in a safe space, physically distant from others. Your school would contact your parent/carer to be collected or make your way home safely. People living in the same household, for example siblings must also isolate until you get your test results.

The rules on self-isolating have changed recently.

Pupils who test positive will need to self-isolate, even if you don’t have any symptoms. You may be able to end self-isolation early if you take two lateral flow tests which are both negative. These must be taken from day 6 of your self-isolation and 24 hours apart. You can find out more about what that means here.

If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive and are under 18 years and 4 months, you can take daily lateral flow tests instead of self-isolating. The tests need to be taken every day for seven days. If any of your lateral flow tests are positive, you should self-isolate for 10 days. You do not need a follow-up PCR test.

Close contacts include people you live with or who have stayed overnight at your home; people you have had close contact (less than one metre) with; people you have shared a car with. Non-household contacts of children and young people – such as school friends – are considered to be low risk.

All other low risk contacts of pupils who test positive, such as school staff and pupils from your class will be identified and sent an information letter from the school. This would most likely cover taking lateral flow tests and looking out for symptoms developing.

Your school should work with you, or any pupil who develops symptoms and has to self-isolate, to make sure there is support to continue learning from home. However, this would only happen if you are well enough.

What other changes can I expect when I return to school?

The following changes should take place as soon as they can from the start of the new term in 2022:

  • reducing the amount of pupils you come in contact with by having set groups at school again
  • restrictions on school visitors
  • more guidance about ventilating the school
  • for schools to provide support for pupils who attend schools that have to temporarily close.

Click here for helpful tips if you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed about returning to school