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I have MS, should my kids be going back to school?

With lockdowns and local restrictions, you might have some choice about whether your child goes back to school or not. But in most areas, school’s back for everyone in the autumn term.

We updated this page on Monday 3 August 2020

The UK, Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh governments all now have dates they plan to open schools to more children. And they 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.

We know that for some people, the return of schools will be a great relief. But if you’ve also got concerns or questions about any of this, you can get in touch with our MS Helpline on 0808 800 8000.

When do schools re-open in my country?

In Scotland, schools open on 11 August. Some schools might bring back pupils gradually rather than everyone attending full time straight away. But the government says it expects all pupils to be at school full-time from 18 August at the latest.

In Northern Ireland, the new school term will begin on 24 August for some year groups and for vulnerable children in all years. ‘Vulnerable’ children includes young carers and children who get support from social services. All other pupils will return at normal autumn term start dates, which vary between schools. Some schools might not be able teach all pupils full time straight away. But everywhere should provide around half of the teaching face-to-face.

In England, schools are expected to open to all pupils, full-time, for the usual autumn term start in early September.

In Wales, schools will open on 1 September. Some schools might bring back pupils gradually rather than everyone attending straight away. But the government says it expects all pupils to be at school full-time from 14 September at the latest. 

What if my child or I have been shielding?

Where shielding is paused, children in your household will need to go back to school - unless your doctor (or your child’s doctor) tells you otherwise.

By the autumn term it’s very likely that shielding will be paused across most of the UK. But you should check with your local council for any particular restrictions in your area.

If local restrictions advise your child to stay away from school, they should get remote support from the school straight away.  

Schools should explain the steps they’re taking to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.

Read more about the pause in shielding

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.

Read more about self-isolating if someone has COVID-19 symptoms

What precautions will schools take against 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

The details will be different from school to school. You can always speak to someone at your child’s school to talk through their plans.

Read the UK government guidance for schools reopening in England

Read the Scottish government guidance for schools reopening

Read the Northern Ireland Executive guidance for schools reopening

Read the Welsh government guidance for schools reopening

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 should 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 for 14 days, if the child with symptoms has a positive test result.

Schools should 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.

You can also sign up to our new Keep in Touch service, for a weekly catch up call with one of our friendly volunteers.

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 Time to Chat or 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.

We updated this page on Monday 3 August 2020

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