Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for schools

What do schools and other educational settings need to know about COVID-19? Read below for government guidance and useful resources for staff and pupils

COVID-19 is a disease that can affect the respiratory system. It’s caused by a common virus called coronavirus.

Symptoms of coronavirus 

Symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • coughing
  • having a high temperature
  • shortness of breath.

How does coronavirus spread?

According to the NHS, we’re not yet sure exactly how coronavirus is spread, apart from that it is mainly spread from person to person. With similar viruses, it’s normally spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs, and another person breathes in or swallows the droplets.

How can I avoid catching coronavirus?

  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Do this when you get home or into work, before preparing and eating food, after using the toilet and after using public transport.
  • Use hand sanitiser gel when soap and water isn’t available.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Put used tissues in the bin and wash your hands straight after.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

What should I do if I think I might have coronavirus?

  • Stay at home and avoid close contact with people.
  • Do not go to the GP or hospital.
  • Only use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if you feel you cannot cope with symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or you don't get better after seven days.

You should also stay at home for seven days if you have either a high temperature or a new, continuous cough.  

If anyone in your house develops symptoms, the entire household needs to isolate for 14 days.

Government response

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

You can only leave your home:

  • to shop for basic essentials, such as food and medical supplies
  • to do one form of exercise a day – however this must be alone or with people you live with
  • to visit the pharmacy or drop medical supplies off for a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home.

When outside, you must stay at least two metres away from other people.

To stay up to date and find out more about COVID-19, see the UK government response.

DfE guidance

The DfE have also set up a helpline offering guidance for anyone with education related questions. The helpline is open weekdays from 8am until 6pm and can be reached by calling 0800 046 8687.

Further guidance

Resources for schools 

Posters and leaflets


Lesson plans and activities

  • Hand hygiene company Evans Vanodine have free materials to help teach children about the importance of handwashing.
  • Teaching Ideas provide free lesson plans and resources for pupils including the five steps to clean hands and understanding germs.
  • The University of Southampton have a Germ Defence presentation with advice on how to avoid catching viruses.
  • A fun activity to help encourage pupils (and staff!) to wash their hands properly is the Wash Your Lyrics website. This website allows users to enter the title of a song and artist to automatically generate a poster matching the lyrics to the 13-step handwashing routine.
  • Campaign resources have a range of fun lesson plans on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

School closures

The facebook group Amazing Educational Resources have shared a Google Docs link with a list of education companies and resources that are offering free memberships and services.

Last Updated: 
27 Mar 2020