Back to School Safely

Back to school

All schools and colleges in Redbridge have been working exceptionally hard to keep children and young people safe. We are grateful for the hard work of staff and teachers, who have helped to introduce a range of measures to try to help keep pupils safe. 

Information for parents and carers about attending nurseries, schools and colleges during COVID-19 can be found here. 

Testing for the households, childcare or support bubbles of school staff and pupils

If you are a member of a household of staff or a pupil you can get a rapid twice-weekly test:

  • Through your employer if they offer testing to employees
  • At a local test site (find your nearest rapid lateral flow test site)
  • By collecting a home test kit from a test site. These are available to collect between 13:30 to 19:00 at:
    • Gants Hill Library Car Park, Cranbrook Rd, Ilford, IG2 6SX
    • Charteris Car Park, Charteris Road, Woodford, IG8 0AL
  • By ordering a home test kit online on the website

Redbridge’s Secondary Schools and Further Education Providers

Secondary aged pupils (year 7 and above) are encouraged to take part in testing upon their return in the week of 6 September , if they have no symptoms. Pupils can return to school or college as long as they do not test positive.  You can learn more about asymptomatic testing here.

If your child is not testing, they should attend school in line with return arrangements set out by the school or college.

Where a secondary age pupil is not expected to attend due to their school’s testing programme during the week of 6 September, no action will be taken by the school for non-attendance.  If you are a parent of a child who is vulnerable or if you are a critical worker, your child should continue to be able to attend school throughout, unless they receive a positive test result and should therefore self-isolate.

Testing for students 

Regular testing helps to keep your family, staff members and the community safe from Covid-19.

  • Testing is voluntary and will take place in a safe space in the school.
  • Your child will not be tested unless they (if they are aged over 16) or you (or another parent/carer) have given informed consent.
  • All secondary pupils and college students will test on-site before switching to home testing, using a home test kit.
  • The first three tests should be taken 3-5 days apart, all tests will take place in a supervised and safe part of the school and college with results ready in approximately 30 minutes.
  • After the third test all secondary aged pupils and college students will be given home kits to test themselves twice a week at home. All kits will come with instructions on using them and reporting results.
  • Results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace as well as your child’s school or college.
  • Schools and colleges will retain their own smaller testing sites if you’re unable to test at home.
  • Students aged 18 and over can self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed. If your child is aged 12 to 17 they will need adult supervision to self-test and report.

If your child tests positive, they will need to self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance.

Face coverings 

Face coverings are intended to protect against the spread of infection. Even if you are wearing a face covering, you should still practice social distancing and regular hand washing.

The legal requirements to wear a face covering is now lifted in all settings. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, residents are advised that wearing a face covering will reduce your risk and the risk to others, where you come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces.


Under 18s who are named as close contacts will be asked to take a PCR test but will not have to self-isolate unless they themselves test positive. We advise under 18s to act cautiously and test twice a week to help keep friends and family safe. 

More information can be found here.

Nurseries and primary school children

  • If your child is attending a nursery or primary school they do not need to be regularly tested.
  • Nursery and primary school staff will be taking part in the asymptomatic testing programme to help reduce infection rates and keep everyone safe.
  • Public Health England has advised there are limited public health benefits to testing primary pupils with Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs), this area will continue to be monitored over the coming months.
  • Children in primary schools do not need to wear a face covering, but we are encouraging primary schools to allow this if parents want their children to wear them.

Redbridge’s Special Schools and Alternative Provision:

  • All children and young people should attend their special school, special post-16 provider or alternative provision setting, unless they receive a positive test result or have to self-isolate.
  • We expect that every 16 to 19 student (or 19 to 25 with an EHC plan) undertakes the majority of their planned hours on site.
  • Your child’s school or college should continue to work together with you to agree an approach that is in your child’s best interests.

These pages will be updated when there is additional information or guidance changes.

For information about COVID-19 in general please visit

What has changed since the end of term?

The main change is to rules about isolation for contacts: people who are identified as contacts of a positive case are exempt from isolation if they are in one of the following categories.  They are however strongly recommended to get a PCR test as soon as possible after being identified as a contact.

Categories of people who do no have to isolate despite being contacts of a positive case:

  • fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since the final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • under 18 years, 6 months old
  • taking part or have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Do we need to practise social distancing in school?

The DfE national guidance no longer requires this.  Students should however stand ready should there be a need to reintroduce social distancing controls if required by the local situation.

Should we consider wearing a face covering?

Our advice is that there is no requirement to wear face coverings unless the school identifies particular circumstances where a large number of people come together in an enclosed space.  We would advise that although not required students carry a face covering with them as there may be certain points in the day when they are needed, and in any event schools should allow students and staff to use one if they wish to do so.  Face coverings are expected to be worn on public transport both by adults and by pupils.

How will school staff and pupils get access to tests?  

Primary staff are able to collect home tests from their schools to enable them to test twice weekly.

Secondary staff are able to get twice-weekly testing in school at the moment but will be able to collect test kits for home testing in the coming week.

Secondary pupils will have access to on site testing on their return to school.  After 3 tests 3-5 days apart, they will be supplied with home test kits to continue twice weekly testing at home. 

How Reliable/effective are LFD kits used at home without a trained professional?

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests have been widely and successfully used to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals. Crucially, when levels of virus are at their highest and people are most likely to pass on the disease, lateral flow tests can detect the vast majority of cases.

No test is perfect, but the speed and convenience of LFD tests supports detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals who would not otherwise be tested. Each positive case identified can help prevent many additional people from becoming infected over time. LFD tests are crucial in the fight against the virus.

Extensive clinical evaluation has been carried out on the lateral flow tests. Evaluations from Public Health England and the University of Oxford show these tests are accurate and sensitive enough to be used by individuals in the community.

LFD tests identify the most infectious individuals. These individuals tend to spread the virus to many people and so identifying them remains important.  The ability to self-test at home makes rapid testing even more convenient and accessible and further increases the speed at which people can self-isolate.

What if people don’t have access to internet/digital – how will they report results?

People in England can report results via telephone by calling 119 (free from mobiles and landlines) - Lines are open every day, 7am to 11pm.

What is the advice about bubble groups?

There is no longer any requirement to keep pupils in separate bubbles and we now recommend that schools reintroduce intervention groups to support teaching and learning goals.

If I test positive does my primary school aged child need to have a test?

As a close contact of a positive case, they should self-isolate for 10 days

If the parent of a child in my class tests positive does the whole class have to isolate?

Only close contacts of the positive case need to self-isolate.  This will be determined for those in school, by the school.  It will be determined for those outside of school by NHS Test & Trace.

My child has been tested at school and is positive, should I have a test using one of these home kits or go to a PCR testing site?

If someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19 stay at home and self-isolate. Do not go to work, school or public areas and do not use public transport. If you develop symptoms while you are isolating, arrange to have a COVID-19 PCR test. If your result is positive, follow the advice for  people with COVID-19 to stay at home and start a further full 10 day isolation period. You don’t need to take a test if you don’t have symptoms but you still need to self- isolate.

My child has a cough/fever/loss of smell or taste – should I use one of these tests to check if I have coronavirus?

Anyone who displays symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can and should get a PCR test. You can find your nearest test centre through the online booking portal: Tests can also be booked online through the NHS website or ordered by telephone via NHS 119 for those without access to the internet.

How many tests am I allowed to pick up from a test site?

During the online ordering process, you will be guided through a series of questions to help you access the most appropriate testing channel based on your household situation. If you are directed to collect tests from a local test site you will be provided with 2 boxes that contain 7 tests each (14 tests) based on your household taking twice weekly tests. If you have a larger household, or are also collecting for your childcare bubble you may be eligible to collect up to 4 boxes (28 tests).

When people are collecting kits from a local or regional test site do they need to book?

There is no need to book. The sites mentioned above are open for the collection of test kits from 13:30-19:00, seven days a week.


If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child’s school or college to talk them through.

Note that feedback relates only to this page and it's content. You can also feedback about the entire site.

For complaints or compliments, please go to Complaints or Compliments

Rate this page:

Thanks for your feedback