Home Page

What to do if anyone in the school becomes unwell


What to do if anyone in the school becomes unwell


If anyone in the school becomes unwell with:

  • a new and persistent cough
  • or a high temperature,
  • or has a loss of or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia),

they must be sent home and advised to follow guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, which sets out that they should self-isolate for at least 10 days and should arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19).


If they have tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develop symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day they develop symptoms.

Other members of their household (including any siblings) should self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms.

Any members of staff who have helped someone with symptoms and any pupils who have been in close contact with them do not need to go home to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should arrange a test) or if the symptomatic person subsequently tests positive or they have been requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace.


If someone tests negative and if they feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus (Covid-19), they can stop self-isolating. They could still have another virus, such as a cold or flu – in which case it is still best to avoid contact with other people until they are better. If they wouldn’t ordinarily return to school given their level of illness then they should remain at home in the normal way. Other members of their household can stop self-isolating.

Whilst questions around negative testing are not specifically addressed in the guidance, it seems reasonable to us that if somebody has a negative test result and feels well (or well enough to return to school) then they should return. If they are not 100% upon return but well-enough to be in school, they should be monitored and if they become more unwell they may need to return home again and seek another test.


What should we do if someone in school tests positive for Covid-19?


The DfE guidance states that if someone in school tests positive the school should contact the local health protection team.  The health protection team will provide definitive advice on who must be sent home. The health protection team will carry out a rapid risk assessment to confirm who has been in close contact with the person during the period that they were infectious, and ensure they are asked to self-isolate.


The health protection team will work with schools in this situation to guide them through the actions they need to take. Based on the advice from the health protection team, schools must send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with that person when they were infectious. 


Schools should take the advice of the local health protection teams when deciding who should be asked to isolate.