Can my child go to school with a cold, runny nose or sore throat or is it coronavirus?
Can I send my child to school with a cold? It's a question many parents are having to ask themselves with schools open and winter germs on the increase.
Conscious that no family wants to be the cause of spreading coronavirus in a classroom, the mild ailments children may have once come to class with are now subject to greater scrutiny and concern.
Headteachers and schools have a raft of measures in place to deal with any potential Covid outbreak and to minimise the contact pupils have with others during the day, but if a child wakes up with a runny nose or sore throat it can be down to parents to decide what further action, if any, they need to take:
What are the symptoms of coronavirus in children?
The NHS says the main symptoms of coronavirus in children are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and/or a loss of change to sense of smell or taste.
The Department for Education says that should a pupil develop one or more of these symptoms that school or nursery is avoided, the household must isolate at home and a test is booked for anyone in the family who is displaying the listed symptoms.
What is classed as a continuous cough?
Children will undoubtedly develop numerous coughs and colds during the school year.
The NHS defines a continuous cough as 'coughing a lot' for more than an hour or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
Whilst most coughs are likely to be caused by other viruses, parents with a child who develops a persistent cough should keep their child at home, avoid pharmarcies for medicine or further advice and arrange a coronavirus test in order to be sure.
What if my child has a cold?
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health says it recognises that families want to know about the return to school and sending children to class with cold-like symptoms.
Its guidance reads : "As children return to schools after a prolonged break, we expect colds and similar viral infections to circulate. Parents will want to know which symptoms will warrant testing for COVID-19 (and remain away from school whilst awaiting results) and those which on probability do not justify testing (and can therefore stay in school).
"This will ensure that children are not unnecessarily kept away from schools and exposed to inappropriate testing."
It goes on to say that looking at all the evidence the organisation has available surrounding coronavirus in youngsters it believes that 'children with simple cold symptoms such as coryzal symptoms (runny noses) or sore throats without fever who would normally have attended schools in other times should not be tested for COVID-19'.
The NHS is also clear that runny noses and sore throats are not associated with symptoms of coronavirus in children and therefore if these are mild, it says there is no reason why a child can't be in school. However if any symptoms of the common cold are accompanied by either a fever or continous cough (or both) then the child must be tested for coronavirus and kept off school and at home with the rest of the household until this can be done and a result received.
Should the result be negative, and the child is well enough to go back, the Department for Education says they can then return to school. Should the test be positive, the school and public health teams will be notified so that further action can be taken.
A spokesman added: "All pupils and staff have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus under existing national testing provisions. This will enable them to get back into childcare or education, and their parents or carers to get back to work, if the test is negative.
"If someone who has been in school tests positive, public health teams will provide rapid advice on action that needs to be taken."
You can learn more about common illness and read further guidance on sending your child to school on the NHS website by clicking here .