Health Protection

North Yorkshire Public Health advice for educational settings on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases - January 24 update (Attached)

At this time of year, we can expect to see an uptick in seasonal viruses and infections such as COVID-19, flu and norovirus. Community flu levels are currently increasing, with high levels of COVID-19 seen over the Christmas period and above average levels of norovirus circulating too.

Under current national guidance parents are encouraged to send children to school if they exhibit mild respiratory symptoms, in order to maintain attendance. Such mild symptoms encompass a runny nose, sore throat, or a slight cough, which unfortunately in some cases may also be indicative of COVID-19 infection.
To support interpretation of the national guidance we have produced a ‘quick interpretation’ box within this document to support decision making. 

Although the acute respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 may be mild for some people, each infection brings the potential for longer-term health consequences, such as Long COVID, which may further impact a child’s ability to learn and develop. We therefore continue to recommend that appropriate steps are taken to minimise the spread of infectious diseases in educational settings.
Maintaining good indoor air quality is key to preventing the spread of airborne infections such as COVID-19 and flu (please see guidance below, particularly on ventilation). External support resources for schools are also available, for example through CoSchools and SAMHE. Practicing good respiratory hygiene (i.e. ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’) will also help reduce transmission.
We would like to thank settings for their support to Vaccinations UK (the new School Age Immunisations Service provider) during the autumn flu campaign; vaccinations continue to be a vital component to preventing many infectious diseases. Any staff who are eligible for flu vaccinations can continue to access these through local pharmacies until the end of March.

Handwashing remains important, particularly around norovirus, although note that hand sanitiser is ineffective against norovirus (handwashing with soap and water is required). 
Please see our guidance below under ‘Key Prevention Measures’ for more information. 
Links to key national guidance documents can also be found in the box below, including information on managing specific infectious diseases.

Some children returning to school following a period of illness may require additional support, particularly around more strenuous activities. Guidance for schools can be found in the Long Covid Kids educational toolkit: Educational Toolkit | Long Covid Kids


Infectious Diseases


Very infectious respiratory illness which spreads quickly in crowded population and enclosed spaces

Adults and children with symptoms of flu are advised to remain at home until they have recovered.

Flu vaccine for eligible people should be encouraged.


Respiratory infections, including Flu

range of symptoms including runny nose, high temperature, cough and sore throat.

Children with mild symptoms can continue attending the setting.

Children with a high temperature should stay at home.


Scarlet Fever

Bacterial illness caused by group A streptococcus

Children need antibiotics for scarlet fever

They can return to their education setting 24 hours after commencing appropriate antibiotic treatment.

If there is an outbreak of scarlet fever within the education/childcare setting, your UKHSA Health Protection Team (UKHSAHPT) should be informed. You should also inform the UKHSAHPT if there is chickenpox circulating at the same time.


Chickenpox and Shingles

Normally circulates between March and May

Children with chickenpox should be sent home until all blisters have crusted over

Inform the UKHSA Health Protection Team if you have scarlet fever circulating at the same time as chickenpox


Diarrhoea and Vomiting (D&V)

All cases of D&V should be regarded as potentially infectious

People with D&V should be excluded until 48 hours after D&V symptoms have stopped

You should emphasise the need for good handwashing practices in the setting


More information on these and other infectious diseases and their management here:

Health protection in children and young people settings, including education - GOV.UK (

Managing specific infectious diseases: A to Z - GOV.UK (


Dealing with outbreaks and incidents

Advice for all outbreaks

Many infectious diseases can be managed by reinforcing the Infection Prevention Control (IPC) measures outlined on the next page and by:

  • encouraging all children, young people and staff who are unwell not to attend the setting or remain separate from others, wherever possible - further guidance on exclusion periods is available for specific infectious diseases
  • ensuring all eligible groups are enabled and supported to take up the offer of immunisation programmes including coronavirus (COVID-19) and flu
  • ensuring occupied spaces are well ventilated and let fresh air in
  • reinforcing good hygiene practices such as frequent cleaning and hand hygiene
  • requesting that parents or carers inform the education or childcare setting of a diagnosis of any infectious disease


During an outbreak or incident, when there are either several cases, or indications of more serious disease, additional measures may be required.

These could include:

  • considering communications to raise awareness among parents and carers (ensuring this is accessible for those who speak other languages or with lower levels of literacy)
  • reinforcing key messages amongst children and young people, including the importance of hand and respiratory hygiene measures using materials such as the 

e-Bug resources

  • discussing with health visitors (childcare settings) or school nurses about the support they can offer, particularly where a child, young person or staff member may face barriers to accessing health care
  • temporarily reduce mixing within the setting to reduce the spread of the disease
  • postpone events to prevent spread outside of the setting and reduce visitors to the site


When to seek advice from your UKHSA health protection team

You should contact the Yorkshire and Humber Health Protection Team (UKHSA) at  

 if there is:

  • A higher than previously experienced and/or rapidly increasing number of staff or student absences due to the same infection 
  • Evidence of severe disease due to an infection, for example if a pupil, student, child or staff member is admitted to hospital,
  • More than one infection circulating in the same group of children, young people and staff for example chicken pox circulating with scarlet fever.(If an outbreak or serious or unusual illness for example: E.coli 0157 or E. coli STEC infection, food poisoning, hepatitis, measles, mumps, rubella (rubella is also called German measles), meningococcal meningitis or septicaemia, scarlet fever (if an outbreak or co-circulating chicken pox), tuberculosis (TB), typhoid, whooping cough ( also called pertussus)
  • You require support or advice


Contact information for Health Protection Teams

UKHSA HPT – The phone numbers for the Yorkshire and Humber HPT are:

The North Yorkshire Public Health team remain contactable to support guidance interpretation and setting specific questions and our advice and FAQ’s documents are linked in the next section

If you have any further queries, please use the email address below or call:

  •  (please note this inbox is monitored Monday to Friday between the hours of 8.30am – 5.00pm)
  • 01609 534037 (Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.00pm)