Send pupils with continuous cough or fever home – new coronavirus guidance

Children who develop a continuous cough or fever at school should be sent home with suspected coronavirus, new guidance states.

Updated information from the Government says all educational settings should remain open unless directly advised to close by Public Health England (PHE).

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson is due to meet school leaders on Monday to discuss the implications of widespread school closures amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes after teachers questioned why the Government is not closing schools in the same way as other countries.

Published on Monday, new guidance suggests any pupil or staff member with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature should stay home to avoid infecting others.

According to NHS England, a high temperature is generally considered to be 38C or over.

If pupils become unwell at school they should be isolated while they wait for their parents to collect them – ideally in a room behind a closed door, with a window open.

It says if this is not possible, then students should be moved to an area which is at least twp metres away from other people, while separate bathrooms should be used.

For any staff dealing with suspected cases of Covid-19, the guidance says they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves, but adds they should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds afterwards.

Guidance states that, in most cases, school closures will not be needed – but this will be a local decision based on factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread.

If there is urgent public health action to take, the local Public Health England Health Protection Team will contact the school and undertake a risk assessment.

It says PHE will “rarely advise” a school to close,  but adds: “This may be necessary if there are so many staff being isolated that the school has operational issues.”

Regularly touched objects should be cleaned and disinfected more than usual using standard cleaning products, while young children should be supervised to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds using soap and water.

The Government says the guidance, which covers childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions, may be further updated in line with the changing situation.

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