Statement from KCC about Schools

When will my child return to school?

Parents and carers will likely have heard that the Government has announced a range of different dates for pupils to return to school after the winter holidays; these depend both on which year group they are in and which local authority area their school is in.

The majority of secondary school pupils will return to the classroom on Monday, January 18. An exception will be pupils in Years 11 and 13 who will return to school on Monday, January 11. The Government has asked schools to have remote learning in place for Years 11 and 13 as soon as possible and for all other secondary year groups by Monday, January 11. Secondary school staff are working hard to provide remote learning for all their pupils as quickly as possible and details will be communicated to pupils and/or parents and carers by their schools as soon as it is available.

Primary schools in the local authority areas of Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Hythe and Thanet will reopen to all pupils on Monday, January 4. Primary schools in the Ashford, Dartford, Gravesham, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Swale, Tonbridge and Malling and Tunbridge Wells districts and boroughs will remain closed to the majority of pupils from Monday, January 4 with pupils learning remotely. These arrangements will be reviewed by the Government later in the month.

Vulnerable pupils, including those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), and the children of key workers in both secondary and primary schools in all areas of the county will have access to face to face learning in schools from Monday, January 4.

The new measures have been put in place to break chains of COVID-19 transmission among children and young people and to allow schools time to prepare for the testing of pupils and staff for COVID-19 (see below).

Any parent or carer who is unsure what the arrangements are for their child should contact their school in the first instance.

Testing in schools

The Government has committed to offering mass and serial symptom-free testing to all secondary school pupils and staff, in school, from January. Pupils will be offered two rapid result lateral flow tests at the start of term (a minimum of three days apart) to ensure they are free of COVID-19 before they return to school. Staff will be offered weekly testing and both pupils and staff will be offered daily testing for up to seven days if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 but are not displaying symptoms themselves.

The intention of the testing is both to identify people who do not know they have COVID-19 so they can self-isolate and not pass it onto others, and to allow more pupils and staff to remain in school as they will not have to automatically self-isolate if someone in their bubble tests positive for COVID-19.

Kent County Council is encouraging all secondary schools in Kent to offer this testing, however, we recognise the significant challenges involved in making the necessary arrangements in a safe and timely manner. We acknowledge that not all schools will be ready to start testing at the same time and will support individual schools to move forward with plans as quickly as they are safely able to.

Head teachers will contact parents and carers with information about testing for their children once arrangements are in place.

This testing is for pupils and staff without symptoms of COVID-19. Anyone who has symptoms (a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; and a loss of or change to the sense of the sense of taste or smell) should NOT attend school and should book a test online: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested#the-testing-process

Home to school transport

If your child attends a primary school in a local authority area where primary schools are closed to the majority of pupils, school transport will not continue to run. If your child is eligible for free home to school transport, and is attending primary school because they are vulnerable or you are a key worker, please email your child’s name and date of birth to so we can ensure their transport can still be provided.

Kent County Council will continue to provide transport for eligible secondary school pupils for the two weeks beginning Monday, January 4.

If your child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and is entitled to transport this will continue. However, if your child is unable to attend school you should liaise directly with, and inform, the transport operator as you normally would.

Free School Meals

Kent County Council is working with schools to ensure the families of pupils who are eligible for benefits-related Free School Meals will receive support to help them feed their children if they are at home during the two-week period beginning Monday, January 4. Parents and carers should contact their school if they are unsure what arrangements are being put in place for their child.