Know your rights: COVID-19 and school attendance

When should I keep my child home from school during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Keeping schools open during the COVID-19 emergency is a Government priority.

However, many parents have questions about when to keep primary school children at home during the pandemic.

Your child should not go to school if they have:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19 – common symptoms are a high temperature,  a cough, shortness of breath, loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus
  • Been living with someone who is unwell and may have coronavirus
  • An existing breathing condition that has recently got worse

If any of these apply, you should:

  • Keep your child at home and completely avoid contact with other people, as much as possible. This means they must self-isolate. They should only leave your home to see your GP or have a COVID-19 test.
  • Phone your GP. They will advise you if your child needs a test.
  • Treat your child at home for their symptoms.

No one in your household should go to school, childcare or work until your child gets a diagnosis from their GP or a COVID-19 test result. This means they should restrict their movements.

If your child has other symptoms

You should keep your child at home for at least 48 hours, if they have:

  • Headaches or a sore throat – usually, after 48 hours you can send your child back to school as long as their symptoms do not get worse, they do not develop new symptoms and they do not need paracetamol or ibuprofen during the period.
  • Diarrhoea – they should stay at home until they have had no diarrhoea for 48 hours.

You and your family can continue your normal routine.  You do not need to restrict your movements as long as you are not ill.

If your child has travelled abroad

Your child needs to stay at home and not go to school if they have returned from a country that is not on the green list. They need to restrict their movements for 14 days. They do not need to see a GP unless they develop coronavirus symptoms. You should always check travel advice on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find comprehensive integrated information online at and you can get daily updates on what’s changed on Twitter at @citizensinfo. You can also get information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: Call 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm
  • Our national call back service: Visit to request a phone call from an information officer

A limited number of appointments are being made in Citizens Information Centres offices where social distancing can be facilitated. You can continue to contact your local centre by email or phone using the details in the Find a Centre page on