Schools, early learning and children

National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch has written to parents and carers

Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director, has written to parents and carers on 16 September to explain more about how cases of Covid-19 are being managed in schools and childcare settings.

NHS Lothian public health has sent a letter to parents and carers

In addition to the information included in the 9 September update, we also requested a letter from NHS public health for parents and carers. Dona Milne Director of Public Health and Health Policy at NHS Lothian has now issued us with that letter which gives more details to help explain the change to national guidance around positive coronavirus cases in schools. The letter has been sent to parents and carers. 

9 September update: Procedure if someone in school tests positive for coronavirus

We are aware some parents and carers may be uncertain about what happens when someone in a school tests positive for coronavirus.

From 9 August, the national guidance, which all schools must follow, changed.  

When someone tests positive for COVID-19 they will get a phone call from Test and Protect. For children under the age of 16, the parent or carer will be contacted. Test and Protect gives advice and takes details of any recent close contacts. They will talk through what a close contact is. Those contacts will be called by Test and Protect and asked to self-isolate and get a PCR test. If the test is positive they stay at home for 10 days.  

This is different from the previous procedure when schools identified and contacted close contacts of a positive case in the school. We now no longer have the remit nor the required information to carry out this role, as per the updated national guidance.

Parents and carers will be informed there is a positive case in school via a Warn and Inform letter. In the case where additional children test positive within a class within a short time frame multiple letters will not be sent to the same class. However, unless you are contacted and advised otherwise by Test and Protect, your child should attend school as normal, provided they are well and have no symptoms of COVID-19.

Please be assured we continue to work with the NHS Lothian Health Protection Team, who carry out a risk assessment of schools when someone at your child’s school test positive or there are multiple people with symptoms. The risk assessment, by those same health protection experts, then informs all decisions around making sure all measures are in place to keep pupils and staff safe.

We must, and do, follow all public health guidance as the health and wellbeing of children and staff is our priority.

New school term

The same arrangements as the pre-summer break remain in place and the situation will be reviewed on a regular basis based on updated national guidance. 

Information about  pupils' return to school has been sent parents and carers prior to the start of the new term, including the latest Scottish Government guidance

Measure that remain in place include:

  • Physical distancing of at least one metre between all staff, and between staff and pupils.
  • Face coverings to be worn by all staff and young people aged 12 and over.
  • Enhanced cleaning, ventilation and hygiene measures.
  • Drop off and pick up arrangements that request parents/carers to: 
        Avoid gathering at school gates.
        Wear a face covering where required.
        Maintain physical distancing.

Immediate changes

There are changes to some measures to be implemented as soon as possible which include:

  • Removing the requirement to maintain groups or ‘bubbles’ in ELC and schools.
  • On dedicated school transport only adults and young people aged 12 and over should wear a face covering.
  • Changes to the arrangements for self-isolation and contact tracing.

What to do if your child tests positive or is a prolonged close contact of a positive case

The latest NHS Inform advice includes where to get a local PCR test. You can also find information on getting tested, and which test you need, on the council's community testing pages

A negative PCR test will allow your child to return to school without the need for the 10-day self-isolation. Our ELC settings and schools will no longer be involved in contact tracing as this will be done via Test and Protect.

Primary 1

In line with the published guidance, parents/carers of children starting in Primary 1 will generally not be able to access the school building or grounds on the first day of term.
For a limited number of children who require additional support, alternative arrangements may be possible. Please contact your school directly to discuss with the Head Teacher.

Testing Programme

Staff in all settings, and young people attending secondary school are being asked to consider taking a lateral flow test prior to returning to school.

Ideally, the second weekly test should be taken either in the morning before the pupil or staff member leaves for the first day of school or the evening before. 

It is really important that results are recorded online, whether positive, negative or void. 

Testing can help reduce the risks of COVID-19 outbreaks in schools. Many schools provided test kits to staff and pupils prior to the summer break. If any staff or pupils have not received test kits, find out how to get tested and where to get home testing kits on our Community Testing pages.


Certain groups of young people aged 12-17 are being offered the Covid-19 vaccination. The key groups are:

  • All young people aged 16-17.
  • Young people aged 12-17 with certain conditions.
  • Young people aged 12-17 who are household contacts of other adults and children who are vulnerable.

If your child is included in any of these groups you will be contacted directly by NHS Lothian with further details.

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