COVID-19, MS and schools
Find out how schools are adapting to coronavirus, and what each government advises.
We updated this information page on Monday 29 November 2021 with changes in the guidance for face coverings in England.
The UK, Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh governments each have guidance for schools to reduce the chances of catching coronavirus.
There could be local restrictions that affect going to school. If there’s different guidance for your city or county, your local council website should have details. Find your local council at gov.uk.
If you’ve got concerns or questions about any of this, you can get in touch with our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000.
Is it safe for children with MS to be in school?
In September 2020, a group of leading neurologists in childhood MS agreed that children with MS are not a high risk group for coronavirus. And that almost all children should return to school full time when they're open.
In a statement they said:
- Nothing can be 100% safe. But their experience across the UK over the past 6 months hasn’t shown that their patients are at high risk - even when they've been exposed to COVID-19.
- Children with MS rarely have other conditions as well as MS, or ongoing physical symptoms like problems with walking. These are two factors that could put people with MS at higher risk.
- The academic and social benefits of going to school and socialising outweigh the risk from the virus.
- Unless your child’s neurologist suggests taking extra precautions, they should follow government guidance for all children at school.
What if my child is self-isolating?
No one who’s self-isolating should go to school. Self-isolating pupils should get remote support from their school.
Government guidance and rules for schools varies across the UK nations. And the details will be different from school to school.
Because of the Omicron variant of the virus, the UK government now "strongly advises" staff and pupils in secondary schools in England to wear face coverings in communal areas. This doesn't include classrooms.
Other UK nations have their own guidance and rules for face coverings in schools.
In all 4 UK nations, schools need to do risk assessments to help control the risks of coronavirus.
Your school should let all parents know what they’re doing to keep risks as low as possible. This could include:
- having staggered break times, starts and finishes
- changing the layout of classrooms so there is less physical contact where that’s possible
- promoting strict hygiene, including hand washing and frequent cleaning of door handles, handrails, tabletops, play equipment and toys
- using face coverings in some areas of the school and on school buses
The details will be different from school to school and they should explain the steps they’re taking.
What if a child or member of staff has symptoms of coronavirus at school?
If anyone at school shows coronavirus-like symptoms, the school should follow the guidance each national government sets out to control the spread of the virus.
Your school, college or nursery should be able to give you full details of the measures they’ll take.
These could include:
- looking after the child with symptoms in a separate space until they can be collected by their parent or carer
- making sure they don’t attend school while they self-isolate
- following national testing and tracing rules, which could mean children and teachers in that class self-isolate at home, if the child with symptoms has a positive test result.
Schools could apply similar measures if a staff member shows symptoms.
Remember you're not alone
We're here for you. If you’re worried about your MS and coronavirus and want to chat to someone, call our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000. We’re here Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm except bank holidays.
If you'd like to talk your worries through online with other people who know MS, visit our Online Community Forum today.
You can join one of our Virtual Wellbeing sessions and connect online with other people living with MS across the UK. Or you could sign up for an information webinar. We've got plenty to choose from, take a look at our online sessions and see what suits you.
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