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Return to School During COVID-19 - Primary

No one can be certain of what restrictions might be in place in September but everyone agrees it is important for children to be in school. The priority will be safety for everyone. The schools will follow government advice and do their own risk assessments too. If your child is starting school or moving to a new year group you may be feeling even more unsure how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect this.

School days and routines may be different and this might take a bit of getting used to. Each school will make their own plans to keep risks as low as possible. Get in touch with the school your child will be going to for more information.

Schools will do all they can to make sure children have a good experience and can still settle well. Although some of the usual ways of preparing your children for starting, moving school or the return to school after summer holidays may not be an option, there is still a lot you can do to help yourself and your child feel ready.

  • Although you do not want your child to feel worried about the virus, they do need to know a little bit about it. It is a good idea to spend some time talking to your child about COVID-19.

    • It will give you a chance to explain the new things we are all doing to keep safe.
    • They can tell you what they already know and any worries they may have.
    • You can start to talk to them about starting school and how they will be kept safe there.

    How much your child needs to know will depend on their age and understanding, you know them best. *Click here* to look at our page on talking to children of different ages. It will give you some ideas on how you can do this in an age appropriate way.

  • Many of the ways that you would usually have helped your pre-schooler get ready to start in reception are still very possible.

    In fact, as we all spend more time at home with our families, you might find you have more time to help your child with the independence skills that will need at school.

    All schools will be managing the way they adapt to the pandemic differently to take into account the layout, staffing and the number and age of children attending.

    • Make sure your school has your current email, home address and contact numbers so they can keep you up to date with plans.
    • Complete any home activities school provide to help get your child ready.
    • If you have any worries or questions get in touch with school for more information.
    • If you feel worried talk to other parents, friends and family for support – but make sure little ears are not listening nearby!

    School may not be able to offer the visits and getting to know the staff and other children activities that would usually happen. Try not to worry about this, staff are experienced at helping children settle into school. You can help it seem more familiar to your child by;

    • Going on the school website together to look at any photos or videos of school.
    • Letting your child try on their school uniform and choose book and lunch bags to get used the idea and feel the excitement.
    • Taking a walk to school so your child can have a look at the outside of the building.
    • Looking at online resources about starting reception. CBeebies have lots of ideas and games to help your child know what to expect at school *here*.
    • Looking at books about starting school. Norfolk libraries or second hand shops are good places to find these.

    It might feel a strange time for your little one to start school. Children starting in reception will not have known it any differently and are likely to adapt well.

  • It is normal to feel a bit worried when going back to school and a to new year group. This year they might be a little bit more anxious about going back and how school might have changed because of the virus.

    Find out what you can from the school about how their school plans to manage the safety changes needed because of COVID-19 so you can talk to your child about it.

    • There may be information on the school website to look at.
    • You might know children who have been a back to school because they are children of keyworkers or in year groups that had some time there before the break. They may be able to reassure your child.
    • *Click here* to look at our preparing to go back to school page.
    • Remind your child of the things and people that they like about school.

    Let school know about any changes or difficulties your child may have gone through since they were last in school so they can be supported.

  • Get your child in the habit of regular handwashing for at least 20 seconds each time. This is always important but even more so at the moment. Your child should be washing their hand often and school will have regular handwashing time too.

    Help your child feel confident at handwashing. Make it a family habit - it is a very important way of preventing germs spreading.

    *Click here* to watch a CBeebies video about washing hands.

    Hand sanitisers can be used when you can’t get to wash your hands with soap and water but your child should still wash their hands a soon as they can.

    *Click here* for more information on supporting your child to learn to wash their hands independently.

  • Children under three should not wear face coverings.

    Children under 11 do not have to wear face coverings.

    Your child may want to wear one as they get bigger or you may feel it is a good idea in some circumstances. Don’t make it into a battle. Children do not have to wear them as they will be protected by others around them wearing face coverings in situations where social distancing is not possible.

    *Click here* to find out more about using face coverings.

  • Keeping 2 metres away from people we do not live with reduces the risk of the virus being spread. Little children can find this tricky to understand. Schools understand this and are finding ways to keep the number of different staff and other children they are in touch with low.

    • Talk to the school to find out how they will be managing this so you know how it will work for your child.
    • Help your child understand how far 1 metre and 2 metres is. You could do some measuring together. ‘Bigger than daddy’ as ‘big as our rug’ or as ‘high as the table’ - see what you can find that will help them to remember how far they need to keep away from others.
    • Get your child to practice keeping a distance from others. Play games in the garden or park where you try to keep at the right distance from each other.

    Try not to get too worried about it. Little children will forget sometimes and that is ok.


Take a look at the 5 short videos below which have lots of fun activities and ideas you can try with your child to help them prepare for starting school.

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text ChatHealth on 07480635060 for confidential advice from one of our team.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 


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