Education Minister welcomes letter from Chief Medical Officer to parents and carers

Date published: 10 September 2020

Education Minister Peter Weir has welcomed a letter from the Chief Medical Officer, Michael McBride, which is being sent to parents and carers of school children today.

Do not send your child to school if they have Covid-19 symptoms

The letter outlines actions which should be taken by parents and carers if children develop Covid-19 symptoms.  It is being issued alongside a leaflet for parents/carers produced by the Department of Education, with advice on the steps to take if a child, or anyone they live with, develops symptoms.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I welcome this advice from the Chief Medical Officer which will help parents and carers as we enter the autumn and winter months. Colds and other similar infections are common at this time of year and the letter clarifies the action to be taken to manage those.

“However, we are still operating in a pandemic and everyone has a vital role to play by being vigilant, acting responsibly and following public health advice which will support our children and young people in remaining in school.

“Therefore it is vital that you do not send your child to school should they develop Covid-19 symptoms, instead arrange to have them tested and follow the advice outlined by the Chief Medical Officer today.”

The information contained in the Department of Education’s ‘Information for Parents and Carers’ leaflet includes the actions to be taken if: a child develops Covid-19 symptoms; a child is tested positive for Covid-19; another household member has Covid-19 symptoms; another household member tests positive for Covid-19 symptoms.

Chief Medical Officer, Michael McBride said: “In order to ensure children and young people do not miss out on their education, it is important to be clear about how Covid-19 symptoms differ from those of other infections that we usually see circulating at this time of the year.

“I recognise that at this time of year, it is common for colds and similar viral infections to circulate. In many cases, children will be well enough to attend school and continue their learning with little or no interruption to their education. 

“However, we can expect that there will be cases of Covid-19 among children and young people in the weeks ahead. When this happens, our teams in the Public Health Agency (PHA) will respond and will work closely with the school involved to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to protect your child, other children and school staff.

“I would emphasise that if an individual does not have any of the stated symptoms, they do not require a test. Schools should not ask pupils to book a Covid-19 test unless they have one or more of the recognised symptoms.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Department of Education information leaflet for parents/carers can be accessed here: Information leaflet
  2. A letter from the Chief Medical Officer, Michael McBride to parents/carers is available here: Chief Medical Officer's letter to parents and carers
  3. Details on how to book a test can be found on the NI Direct website.
  4. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni
  5. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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