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Is my child too ill to attend school?

It is common for colds and other viral infections to circulate across communities at this time of year.  In many cases, children will be well enough to attend school and continue their learning with little or no interruption to their education. While it is important to  ensure that children are not unnecessarily kept away from school, for some illnesses children will need to stay at home.


There are government guidelines for schools and nurseries that say when children should be kept off school and when they shouldn’t.


Children with diarrhoea or vomiting should stay away from school for 2 days after their symptoms have gone.


COVID-19 symptoms

If your child or anyone in the household has any of the main coronavirus symptoms listed in the box below they need to stay at home self-isolate with the rest of the household and get a test by telephoning 119 or booking online at 


  • new continuous cough

Your child needs tested if they have a cough that has lasted for more than an hour, if they have had three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours, or if they are coughing more than usual. The cough is usually dry.


  • fever/high temperature 

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back. If a thermometer is available take the temperature – a high temperature is 37.8C or higher. Your child may feel warm, cold or shivery.


  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste

This means your child has noticed they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.


Common cold  symptoms

Children with simple cold symptoms such as a runny nose or sore throat without a fever who would normally have attended school in other times, can go to school and should not be tested for COVID-19.


Please see the attached "Quick Guide" pages to show a table for you to easily check against.