To coincide with the reopening of primary and secondary schools, the Department of Education has drawn up guidance for parents.

It sets out the circumstances which prevent a child or teenager from attending school; what symptoms of Covid-19 to look out for; and what to do if a child is unwell.

This guide is based on advice from the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

It says while every year schoolchildren get colds, flu and other infections, this year schools have to contend with coronavirus as well.

Do go to school when...

The guidance says it is ok to send a child to school if they only have nasal symptoms, such as a runny nose or a sneeze or if they do not have a cough.

Children can also go to school if they have not been in close contact with a confirmed case of the virus or when their temperature is below 38C.

Don't go to school when...

Parents are being advised not to send their child to school if they have a temperature of 38C or more.

It says parents should also be vigilant for other symptoms of Covid-19, including a new cough, shortness of breath or a loss or changed sense of taste or smell.

If a child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, they should not go to school.

If they meet any of the criteria, parents should isolate their child by keeping them at home until they have been clear of the symptoms for 48 hours.

A GP should also be phoned for advice.

And all other occupants of the home should restrict their movements until after the child is given a diagnosis by a doctor or a Covid test result.

Hygiene tips

To prevent a spread of the virus, parents are also advised to: encourage their children to wash their hands regularly; use tissues or elbows to cover coughs and sneezes; to keep their distance from people who are sneezing or coughing; and not to share toys or food.

This year, all children aged between two and 12 years will be offered the children's nasal flu vaccine free of charge.

Face coverings

In terms of face coverings, the Department of Education says they are not recommended for use by primary pupils, but face coverings are advised for secondary students.

They are also recommended for teachers and staff at both levels, when a physical distance of two metres cannot be maintained.

More of the advice can be found on the or, while an information leaflet will also be made available to parents through schools.