Last updated 24/3/20
In response to the Prime Minister's announcement that schools will now be closed for most children, teachers have been working on packs and resources for children to take home. Schools are also looking at ways of communicating online with parents while they are closed. You will hear directly from your school on how they are managing the situation and their plans for supporting children and families during the closure.
The department for education has issued some guidance for parents with some frequently asked questions.
Many of you will have questions about key workers and which groups of staff that includes. Schools have been sent a list of these groups and are speaking to families that may be affected. If you think that you qualify as a key worker please speak directly to your child’s school.
We know that many people are concerned about the impact of coronavirus on children who are eligible for free school meals. The government has provided guidance for schools on how they can support vulnerable families.
Children will also be concerned and worried about a change in their routine. BBC Newsround has some really good information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) you can share including video clips, articles and frequently asked questions. Find out more on Newsround
Frequently asked questions
Who are schools remaining open for?
Schools are open for their pupils who are vulnerable and for those key workers who have children who have no one else to look after them.
How are vulnerable pupils defined?
Most schools are now comfortable with who their own vulnerable pupils/students are. The government list includes;
- Those who are supported by social care,
- Those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including those with child in need plans, on child protection plan
- Looked after children,
- Young carers,
- Disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
It means that unless they become compromised by the virus, most children in Special Schools will find their schools open.
My child has an EHCP plan or a learning difficulty but I am confident I can care for my child and would like them at home, is that allowed?
In all cases where this is safe to do so this would be encouraged. There is an offer of a place. Parents do not have to take it up. Where a SEND pupil has siblings who are not SEND or where they can spend positive time with a parent that is wfh that would be preferable to being in school.
Should I keep my child at home if I can even if I am a key worker?
The government hasn’t asked the schools to close because they’re unsafe for children; it is to protect vulnerable adults by trying to avoid social mixing and unnecessary travel. As the PM said; That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. So if you are a key worker and have safe childcare during school hours, your child should be at home.
My partner and I are both key workers but one of us is working from home, do we still send our child to school?
If your partner can work from home and have your child at home it would be much appreciated. Schools are committed to being open for key workers, but they are struggling with staff cover. Some schools have much higher numbers of vulnerable pupils than others.
What happens if I am not usually a key worker but have been redeployed to essential work or believe I am a key worker, but my role/sector is unlisted?
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above, they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
I am a part time key worker does this affect me?
Schools will happily look after your child to cover your working days. Many parents have asked for 3 days rather than 5.
My child has free school meals (FSM) how will they be affected?
Schools will do their best to source a FSM for your child as soon and as safely as possible. Some will offer packed lunches which can be picked up, some will issue e-vouchers or gift cards when they have an agreement with supermarkets. For those who attend their school they may provide hot meals where that is possible. It will depend on staff availability and resources.
How does this affect independent and boarding provision?
The government added the following to its advice to state schools; Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible. Parents of keyworkers/vulnerable learners should be catered for by their independent school as in mainstream.
Will all schools be open to my child in BCP if I need it?
In almost all cases schools in BCP will be open to those pupils who attend there and meet the criteria.
Over time, given adults are more vulnerable than students/pupils schools may need to close and merge support. BCP Council is meeting with all headteachers in the area in small groups to discuss how those with the biggest groups to teach are supported by ourselves and by teachers currently working from home. It may be required that teaching venues change if teachers become ill or there is an active case and schools need to close for deep cleans.
Will schools be open in the Easter Holidays?
Schools will be open during school holidays for the children of key workers. We will be working with schools to try and help make those periods feel like a break on school premises for those children and that staff get breaks as well over time.
Will registered childcare providers, schools and colleges be open over Easter holidays for holiday clubs and childcare?
Where possible, government would encourage childcare providers, schools and colleges to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays. You will need to check with your provider. B&P College is closed but may be offering support to individual schools directly rather than on its own site.
Can children be left unattended for any period?
The government says that whilst there is no legislation to cover this that they would recommend NSPCC advice that children under 12 (primary age) should not be left alone. Children under 16 should not be left alone overnight. So for secondary age pupils, parents could pick up shopping or medicines and take similar breaks. Children should be encouraged to stay home and to not congregate in groups. This social distancing is vital to suppress the disease.
Advice to schools on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Find the latest Public Health England advice for schools, including posters for use in schools.
Guidance is being given to schools where Public Health England advises on decontamination.
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline
There is a helpline to answer questions about Coronavirus (COVID-19) related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows: