Last reviewed 11 September 2023

The Chief Medical Officer, Professor Chris Whitty, and leading health professionals including the President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, have written to schools to provide a clinical and public health perspective on mild illnesses and school attendance.

In a letter, the full text of which can be found at GOV.UK, they have shared useful information for schools to pass onto parents including when is it appropriate for parents and carers to send their children to school if they are feeling slightly unwell.

“We are aware that the Covid-19 pandemic may have caused some parents to feel less confident with assessing whether their child is well enough to be in school,” the letter states, “so we have laid out some information which we hope you will find helpful.”

The health professionals suggest that it is usually appropriate for parents and carers to send their children to school with mild respiratory illnesses. This would include general cold symptoms: a minor cough, runny nose or sore throat.

However, they emphasise, children should not be sent to school if they have a temperature of 38°C or above. Parents are urged to check the relevant NHS guidance, Is My Child Too Ill for School?.

The Department for Education (DfE) has published useful guidance on mental health issues affecting a pupil’s attendance and those who are experiencing persistent symptoms can be encouraged to access additional support.

The letter closes with a reminder to continue encouraging high uptake of seasonal flu vaccination and routine immunisations for eligible children and young people as this will help to reduce absences and the disruption they cause.