Current Covid-19 guidance for schools

In this article you can find current information on the attendance codes and how to use them, including for planned absences and distance learning, plus a link to our guidance on attendance reporting.

For further details, you can see full guidance for schools around Covid-19 here. For attendance guidance from the DfE, you can read their guide here.

Permissions required to complete the actions outlined below
  • Student Profile: Action: Attendance: Administer All Students - edit attendance marks from the Bulk Edit Marks pages, open registers and change register settings
  • Teaching: Administer - create, edit or delete timetable slots, import from TimeTabler, assign someone as the academic lead or to one lesson to be able to take the register
  • Academic Structure: Administer - add courses and assign staff as the academic lead
  • Student: Communications: Administer - send communications from the lesson dashboard

If you don't have the permission to complete an action, you can ask one of your school staff to give you the permission using these instructions



Taking attendance

Managing timetabling and taking attendance

Distance/remote learning

For students who are not attending school, you may be running online classes or supplying work to them. The DfE is not currently collecting information on attendance for online classes and work. As such, any students who are not physically present on-site due to covid-related absences should be marked with the correct absence code, regardless if they are attending online classes.

We advise only marking students as present if they are physically in school to prevent safeguarding issues (e.g. in case of a fire evacuation). 

Although it is not currently possible to track attendance for online classes in Arbor, we integrate with a number of distance learning providers - you can see how to set up a connection here. You can also join the discussion in the Arbor Community to see how other schools are managing online classes.

What attendance codes should we use in Arbor?

These are the codes currently available for use in registers and interventions: Covid-related attendance codes to use for 2021/2022

The DfE have recently updated their guidance around recording covid-related attendance. Please see our guidance here: Should we stop using the X attendance codes for Covid-related absence?

How teachers should take attendance

Teachers can access the registers in the usual way, and input present, absent or late marks. If your school restricts the attendance marks available to teachers, you can also use the Bulk Edit Marks pages to edit any student marks (once the register has been opened), and you can also use these attendance marks in planned absences.

Need to give someone access to take the registers? Follow the instructions in this article: Giving permission for other staff to take attendance registers




Filling in marks for students not attending

You can use planned absences for students who are absent due to Covid-19.

Whole classes who are absent or testing

If a whole class has been sent home due to potential contact within the school or who are undergoing testing, you will need to mark any classes that are not running with the correct absence code. The quickest way to do this is to add a planned absence for the students for the full duration they will not attend school for with the correct Covid-related absence code as the pre-fill mark.

Whenever the class is due to take place, you will need to open the register for the planned absence marks to pull through as this will not update marks automatically. Go to Students > Attendance, click into that class' register and click the Open Register button to open it and pull through the marks. You can then edit marks from the Bulk Edit Marks pages.




Reporting on attendance

For full details of how to get figures you'll need for the DfE's form, and how to report on Covid-related attendance over time in this article: Reporting on Covid-19 attendance



Communicating with students and guardians

Academic leads can send emails or SMS directly from the lesson dashboard of a class to quicklynotify them of any changes. You can see how to communicate with students and guardians here

You can also continue to use the Covid-19 Dashboard to follow up with students who do not come in if you have the School: General Admin: Administer permission.

Sending an email, SMS or letter to Primary Guardians from the Covid-19 Dashboard

The filters on the Students tab will be set to display all your year groups plus identified vulnerable groups from your Settings tab. 

  1. Click the arrows in the Mark column to group certain marks together
  2. Tick the boxes next to the students to follow up with
  3. Click the blue pencil and select the method you’ll use to message primary guardians.



You’ll then be taken to the New Mail Merge creator, where you can draft and send your message from, with these student’s primary guardians selected as the recipients. You can also use communication templates from this page, click here for more information.


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  • Just in case this is useful to others, the DfE emailed this out this morning:

    Attendance recording in schools
    As vulnerable children are still expected to attend school full time, they should not be marked as Code X if they are not in school (except if they are shielding, self-isolating or quarantining). Schools and colleges should encourage vulnerable children to attend but if the parent of a vulnerable child wishes their child to be absent from school, the parent should let the school know that the pupil will not be attending. The Department for Education expects schools and colleges to grant such applications for leave given the exceptional circumstances. This should be recorded as code C (leave of absence authorised by the school) unless another authorised absence code is more applicable.

    As with vulnerable children, critical worker parents and carers should let schools know if their child will not be attending and, if not, schools should grant a leave of absence (code C) given the exceptional circumstances.

    All pupils who are not expected to be in school should be marked as Code X. They are not attending because they are following public health advice.

  • Hi Alex, thanks for posting this here!

    If anyone has any further questions or comments, please join the discussion in our community thread here.

  • Hi we have received a daily update from our LA today which says that we should be marking pupils of Key Workers who are not attending certain days as their parents are working shift work/part time as an X not a C as we have been previously advised. Has the guidance changed? I can't seem to find anything on the daily DfE emails or their website and your instructions are still showing as using C code.

  • Hi Julie, thanks for getting in touch. You can see in the section on What attendance codes should we use in Arbor? that X should be used for children who are not required in school (such as the children of key workers and vulnerable students). C should be used for children who would be required to attend but who's parents do not wish to send them in. 

    The guidance has not changed in that if you would usually require the student to attend and they are refusing to, it would be C, but if your school does not require them to attend on that day it would be X. Please note though that the DfE has advised wherever possible to not use a rota system.

  • Hi Gwyn

    Thanks for your message. Sorry I'm still a bit stuck on this.

    The message below is the one we have received from our LA which says about part time attendance for Key Worker children. We have actively encouraged Key Worker parents to keep their children at home if they don't need to send them into school i.e. if they work part time, to reduce the numbers of children in school. They are not technically refusing to send them to school but they could attend if they needed to. Should these children be marked X or C?

    The Arbor guidance you refer to says 'As certain children (such as the children of key workers and vulnerable students) are still expected to attend school, they should not be marked as Code X. If the parent of one of these children does not wish to send their child in, this should be marked with C unless another absence code is more applicable'. 

    Attendance Codes in the register

    Action: Please share this with any staff recording in the register and attendance leads.

    Code X – Government restrictions / Local Lockdown is to be used for all students not expected in, engaging in learning from home.

    Children of Critical / key workers who are physically in school will have daily attendance codes \ / entered in the register. If part-time attendees, as some parents / carers work shifts and only require a part time place, they will have the X code – Government Restrictions/ Local Lockdown entered for the days when they are remote learning from home.

    Vulnerable students are expected to be in school full time, attendees will have daily attendance codes \ / entered in the register. If they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable or self-isolating the appropriate X codes should be used, If their parent/ carer choses to keep them at home for remote learning, the C  - Other Authorised Circumstances code is to be used. In these circumstances ensure the child’s social worker and multi-agency team agrees that this leave of absence is granted.

  • Hi Gwyn

    Following on from my previous message, new DfE guidance has just arrived which makes it clear which codes to use for Key Worker pupils when they are absent.

    Many thanks





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