Reopening Haringey’s schools

Children returned to school in September, many for the first time since lockdown began earlier this year. We have created this page to help parents and children prepare for the new school year.

This information is based on the Government's website from August. Please check here for updates (external link).

When do children return to school?

Children returned to school on Wednesday 2 September.

The Government has said it is vital for children’s education and wellbeing that schools reopen. Missing too much school is bad for their emotional and academic development. The longer they leave it, the harder it will be for them to catch up with missed schoolwork and learn new things. If that happens, they are less likely to get good grades in exams which will affect what sort of jobs they may get later. It also means that many parents can return to work without having to worry about childcare.

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Is it dangerous?

All the advice suggests that the risk of children becoming very ill from Coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low. The Government says that there is a greater risk to children being out of school. Schools provide an important point of contact for public health and safeguarding services.

Will my child have to wear a mask/face covering in school?

On 25 August 2020, the Government said it will be up to schools whether they want pupils to wear face coverings in the public areas of school grounds (for example, corridors) or not. It said it was following updated advice from the World Health Organization, that children aged over 12 should wear masks under the same conditions as adults. However, if the area the school is in goes into lockdown, all pupils aged over 12 will be required to wear a face covering.

What if my child is unwell?

If your child is unwell from COVID-19: Coronavirus or they have any signs of COVID-19: Coronavirus (that is: a new continuous cough, a high temperature, loss of smell or taste); or if they have tested positive for COVID-19: Coronavirus but are not showing any signs; they must not attend school (self-isolate) for 10 days after they started showing signs of being sick or from the date they were tested.

If your child is living in a household where someone has tested positive or been ill with COVID-19: Coronavirus, they must stay at home (self isolate) for 14 days from the time the person first showed signs of being ill or had a positive test result.

If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) while at school, they will be sent home immediately. If you or a carer needs to collect them, they will be isolated by the teacher and put into a room away from other staff and pupils. A window should be opened to allow ventilation and checks should be made, or an adult should watch over younger children.

Please remember that if your child is tested and they get a negative COVID-19 result, they may still be ill from another virus, such as a cold or flu. Although they can stop self-isolating, they should still avoid contact with others until they are better.

Will teachers and school staff be at risk?

According to the Government there is a small risk of infection, but the Office of National Statistics’ analysis of jobs worst hit by the virus does not include people working in educational establishments such as schools, colleges, and universities. The report states: “There is no evidence that children transmit the disease any more than adults.”

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Will schools get any extra money to help prepare classrooms to be COVID ready?

There are no plans at present to reimburse additional costs incurred. However, schools are expected to help pupils maximise their time by “providing a full educational experience” balanced by the degree of risk. Schools will be asked to minimise the number of contacts that a pupil has during the school day as part of implementing the system of controls outlined below to reduce the risk of transmission. 

School leaders are expected to make their classrooms Covid-ready. The Government has made it clear that they are not expecting a one-size-fits-all approach. But they expect schools and trusts to work closely with parents, staff and unions, as they normally would. School leaders are being told they must re-examine the risk assessments that they carried out earlier this year to ensure the new guidance is put in place: “It is a legal requirement that schools should revisit and update their risk assessments.”

Schools should not operate a rota system to minimise the number of pupils on site at one time. The Government expects all pupils to return to school on a full-time basis. However, schools must comply with health and safety laws, which requires them to assess risks and put in place proportionate control measures.

Essential measures include:

  • A requirement that people who are ill stay at home
  • Robust hand and respiratory hygiene
  • Enhanced cleaning arrangements
  • Active engagement with NHS Test and Trace:
    • People with symptoms of cough, fever or loss of sense of smell or taste are tested
    • If they are positive for coronavirus, they isolate for 10 days and their household does so for 14 days
    • They have to inform the NHS of everyone they have come into close contact with
    • These contacts must also spend 14 days in quarantine
  • Formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable

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How will the school cut the risk of infection within its grounds?

The Government is suggesting that the number of people that children and staff come into direct contact with is cut to the minimum.

They say this can be achieved by:

  • grouping children together (school bubble)
  • avoiding contact between groups
  • arranging classrooms with forward facing desks
  • staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible

What systems must a school have in place?

All schools must abide by a system of prevention and control.


  1. Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school
  2. Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual
  3. Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  4. Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents and bleach
  5. Minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible
  6. Where necessary, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

Numbers 1 to 4 must be in place in all schools, all the time.

Number 5 must be properly considered and schools must put in place measures that suit their particular circumstances.

Number 6 applies in specific circumstances.


Response to any infection:

  1. Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
  2. Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community
  3. Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice

These must be followed in every case where they are relevant.

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Previous guidance from May 2020

Haringey’s schools have remained open to key workers’ children and those who are vulnerable throughout the ongoing lockdown as part of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. We want to thank all those staff who have been there for our children during this time.

For nine weeks now, the council has been providing support to all our education settings to understand their needs and assist them with a range of issues. More recently, this has included helping them prepare to reopen (external link) and ensuring that their risk assessments are robust so that, as and when our primary schools, secondary schools and sixth-form colleges are sufficiently assured and ready to reopen, it’s as safe as possible for their children, staff and parents alike.

The Government has advised that, where possible, primary schools and nurseries should begin a phased reopening from Monday 1 June (external link).

However, it is expected that our schools will reopen to different year groups at different stages in June. These re-openings will be purposely slow and considered, only building to a wider opening when schools are confident to do so and it is safe and right for our children and families. Your child’s school will be in touch with you to let you know when they intend to re-open and the steps they have put in place to ensure social distancing guidance and safety measures can be followed. For further information, contact your primary school or secondary school directly, or see our coronavirus children and young people's page.

Government guidelines are as follows:

From 1 June, begin reopening:

  • Nurseries
  • Primary reception
  • Primary Year 1
  • Primary Year 6

From 15 June, introduce some contact with teachers for:

  • Secondary pupils in year 10, and sixth form pupils in year 12, with exams next year

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Page last updated:

6 October 2020