Questions and answers for parents and carers.
How long should I keep my child off school after they have been ill? If your child has been ill, there is often conflicting advice on the amount of time they should be absent from school, depending on the doctor they see. To make things easier for you we have asked the Health Authority for guidance and have set out below advice about the most common illnesses and infections.
Chicken Pox: Infectious. Children should stay at home for 5 days from onset of rash.
Threadworms: Very infectious. Children should not be in school until the problem has been cleared by treatment from GP.
Impetigo: Highly contagious, spread by direct contact. Needs treatment from the GP. Children should not be in school until lesions are crusted or healed. Patches must be covered if child is sent to school.
Ringworm: Treatment from the GP. Once children have been treated they can continue with swimming and PE.
Conjunctivitis: Highly contagious, one day off after treatment has started.
Head-Lice: Responsibility for checking children’s hair for head-lice rests with the parent and should be done regularly – several times a week.
Sickness or Diarrhoea: Highly contagious, should be clear of symptoms for 48 hours before returning to school.
Measles: Children are infectious for 5-6 days before the rash appears and for 5 days after the temperature returns to normal.
Mumps: Children are infectious two days before the swelling appears and then until the swelling subsides.
German Measles: Children are infectious seven days before the rash appears and at least 4 days after the rash has gone.
Scarlet Fever: Children should not come to school until 5 days after commencement of antibiotics.
Whooping Cough: Children should remain at home for 5 days from commencement of antibiotics. Coughing may persist for many weeks.
If your child is suffering from any of the above, please comply with these guidelines for the benefit of other children and staff in school.
SWINE FLU – Questions and Answers for Parents
Q 1 There have been cases of swine flu in my child’s school (or early years and childcare setting) but it has remained open. Why?
A. The school is following national and local guidance in remaining open. At the current time, expert scientific opinion is that individual school closures to stop the spread of disease are of limited benefit in most circumstances. The virus is already circulating in the community in most areas and people are likely to be repeatedly exposed to the virus in their everyday lives. In the early stages of the pandemic, the emphasis was on containment and schools with cases of swine flu were instructed to close. This is no longer the case.
Q 2 There have been cases of swine flu in my child’s school (or early years and childcare setting). Should I send my child in?
A. While schools and settings remain open, we strongly urge parents to continue to send their children there – unless they have any symptoms of flu. Children with flu-like symptoms should be kept off school until they are better. However siblings can attend school if they do not display any symptoms. People are not regarded as infectious unless they are showing symptoms of the illness.
Q 3 I don’t want to take the risk of my child catching swine flu, so will keep her home from school. Is this acceptable?
A. When swine flu is circulating in the community in most areas, a person may become infected even if not attending school. Infectious people should not be attending school, but may be out and about in the community. You need to be aware that the virus is likely to be around for several months at least, so your child could be facing a lengthy absence. If a parent keeps a healthy child away from school, headteachers have been advised to regard this as an unauthorised absence and appropriate action may be taken by the local education authority.
Q 4 My child has a history of other medical problems and I believe he/she is at greater risk should they catch swine flu. Is it safe for my child to go to school while there have been cases of swine flu there? Are there other precautions that I should take?
A. Children should continue to attend school unless they have any flu-like symptoms. If they display any symptoms you should keep them at home. Given your child’s other medical conditions, you should contact your GP for advice and treatment as soon as possible and discuss the situation with your child’s headteacher.
Q 5 What if my child becomes ill during the school day?
A. If a child is taken ill in school, he or she should be isolated from other pupils and a parent or carer contacted to come to collect him or her as soon as possible. You should make sure the school has a contact number where you, or another responsible adult, can be contacted should your child need to be collected at short notice.
Q 6 What is being done in schools to reduce the spread of infection?
A. Headteachers have been advised to remind children frequently of the importance of good hygiene and measures to reduce the spread of infection (e.g. ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’) and have been provided with posters for display. The advice can be summarised as follows:
- Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible.
- Disposing of dirty tissues promptly and carefully.
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to your face or to other people.
- Cleaning hard surfaces (such as door handles) frequently using a normal cleaning product.
- Making sure your children follow this advice.
Emphasis is being given to the cleaning of hard surfaces on which the virus can survive. The cleaning materials used are described as effective against viruses.
Q 7 Are there any circumstances in which a school will close because of swine flu?
- Yes, there are two possibilities. If there is an unusually high number of cases of swine flu in a school or the local community, the health authorities may advise a school, or several schools in the area, to close. Also, if a school does not have sufficient staff to ensure the health and safety of pupils, after consultation with the local authority, it may be allowed to close. In a voluntary aided school, the governing body may make this decision after consultation. However, schools will be expected to do all they can to use supply teachers to attempt to prevent closure.
Q 8 How will I know if my child’s school is closing? A. This is likely to be done by letters given to pupils to be taken home. The local media will also give the information, as will Pembrokeshire County Council’s website http://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/
The school may also use its own website or the Pembrokeshire education portal.
Q 9 How will I know if the school is reopening?
- Information will be given in the local media and on the County Council’s website http://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/ The school may also use its own website or the Pembrokeshire education portal. In some instances, schools may make direct contact with some parents.
Q 10 Will my children be given work if the school is closed?
- Yes. Schools will be expected to provide a reasonable level of education to children in these circumstances, and have been preparing for this. They may use the Pembrokeshire portal to communicate with pupils and to guide them to use the large number of teaching and learning materials available here. Pupils may be directed towards educational programmes on television. For those who do not have internet access at home, the school should arrange a location at which pupils can collect work and meet a teacher. Although a school may be closed, those staff who are not ill will be expected to be working.
Q 11 What could working parents do if their child’s school or childcare setting was closed for an extended period? Would they have to stay off work?
- We appreciate that closures would present a challenge for working parents, which is why we expect that closures should take place only in exceptional circumstances. However, we believe parents would agree with a closure decision taken to reduce a significant threat to their children’s wellbeing.
In the case of closure, parents would have to make other arrangements for looking after their children. Some might be able to work from home, work flexible or shorter hours, or make informal childcare arrangements with a relative or friend.
Q 12 If parent workers stay off work to look after children won’t this have a severe impact on the economy and on essential services?
- The Welsh Assembly Government has drawn this issue to the attention of employers so that they can plan for this eventuality. This is another reason why schools will not automatically close if they have a case of swine flu.
Q 13 What about out of hours learning? In terms of closure, must these stay in line with the school whose premises are being used?
- The same principles apply: children with symptoms should not attend, and good hygiene practices should be encouraged.
In principle, it would be possible for a school to be closed and its extended services still operate (or vice versa) as closure is currently likely to be based on staff absence or pupil health, and these may vary with different staff and different children attending. In practice it is, however, likely that a school closure would mean the suspension of the out of hours activities from that school.
Q 14 Will a young person be eligible for Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) payments if their learning provider has had to close?
- In such a circumstance, we would expect the learning provider to use its discretion in taking the appropriate action. This may include setting work to be completed at home or making arrangements for learning to take place at another provider or location. In such circumstances, providing that normal EMA conditions are met, EMA payments would continue.
Where to find more information
The most accurate public information on the current situation can be found here:
- Welsh Assembly Government: http://www.wales.gov.uk/swineflu
- National Public Health Service for Wales: http://www.nphs.wales.nhs.uk/
- NHS Direct Wales: http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/
Other sources of information:
- DirectGov: http://www.direct.gov.uk/swineflu
- Health Protection Agency: http://www.hpa.org.uk/
- Swine Flu Information Line: 0800 1 513 513
If you or a family member have flu-like symptoms, you can contact the Swine Flu Information Line above.