Coronavirus Update 03/06/2020
Dear Parents and carers,
This guidance is for parents and carers about changes to our school during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
- When will our school open to more children and young people?
Between 20 March and 1 June, in line with the scientific advice, nurseries, schools and colleges have remained open only to a priority group of children and young people, children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
Schools will continue to offer places for these children and young people.
Primary schools in England are starting to welcome back children in key transition years – reception, year 1 and year 6. Y6 started on 3.6.20. We will let you know when we can invite other year groups.
Other children will continue to be supported to learn at home. You can access more information on the opening of schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1 June for parents and carers.
- Why are schools opening to more pupils now?
Thanks to the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the scientific advice indicates the transmission rate of coronavirus has decreased and the government’s 5 tests have now been met.
Based on all the evidence, we are now able to begin our cautious and phased approach to the wider opening of schools. We want to get all children back into school as soon as we are able, because we know it is the best place for them to learn and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their friends, carers and teachers.
Our approach is a cautious one and in line with the experience of other European countries who have begun to bring back pre-school and school-age children in a phased way and are focusing on primary schools and younger children first. Our approach recognises that the safety and wellbeing of children, the staff that work with them, and the public is paramount.
Our school has followed the guidance on implementing protective measures on how to minimise risks as we prepare to welcome more children back.
- Can we guarantee it will be safe for pupils and staff?
Children, young people and teachers’ safety is our top priority. That’s why we are taking a cautious, phased approach to the wider opening our school.
We have followed the advice from Public Health England (PHE), implementing protective measures. This guidance sets out a hierarchy of controls which schools should work through and which, when implemented, create an inherently safer system where the risk of transmission of infection is significantly reduced.
These controls are:
- avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
- frequent hand cleaning and good hygiene practices
- regular cleaning of settings
- minimising contact and mixing
All staff and children and their families will also have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus.
- Why are you welcoming more children back when they can’t stay 2m apart?
We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account. The school has therefore, worked through the hierarchy of controls to reduce the risk of transmission – crucially minimising contact and mixing by keeping children and staff in small consistent groups and keeping groups away from each other.
- Will parents of eligible children be penalised if they do not send their child to school?
We strongly encourage children and young people who are in the eligible groups to attend, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions).
You should notify the school as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss with you.
Parents will not be penalised for non-attendance at this time.
- What if I have to leave my children at home unattended?
There is no law about when you can leave your child on their own, but it is an offence to leave them alone if it places them at risk. As parents, you should use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them at home. Read the government advice on the law on leaving children unattended.
It is important to be aware that you can be prosecuted if you leave a child alone ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’. If you are at all unsure, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) recommends that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time, children under 16 should not be left alone overnight and babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.
- Will education be provided as normal to children who are attending?
Schools continue to be best placed to make decisions about how to support and educate all their pupils during this period, based on the local context and staff capacity.
Where year groups are returning to school, we would expect school leaders and teachers to:
- consider their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing and identify any pupil who may need additional support so they are ready to learn
- assess where pupils are in their learning and agree what adjustments may be needed to the school curriculum over the coming weeks
- identify and plan how best to support the education of high needs groups, including disadvantaged pupils, and SEND and vulnerable pupils
- support pupils in year 6, who will need both their primary and secondary schools to work together to support their upcoming transition to year 7
The school will use best endeavours to support pupils attending school as well as those remaining at home, making use of the available remote learning support.
- Can I send my child to supplementary schools / community activities or private tuition instead?
Apart from those children who are eligible to return to attend early years and school, it remains the case that you should keep your child at home to limit the chance of the virus spreading. You should not use any in-person supplementary schools, community activities or after school clubs or tuition. We are expecting these settings to remain closed for the time being.
- My employer is saying I have to return to work but I can’t find any childcare, what should I do?
In the first instance, parents are advised to get in touch with their local authority who will be able to help them find available childcare, which may be different from the setting the child usually attends. In the event that a child moves to a different setting, important information should be provided by the parent or carer to the new setting on day one, including emergency contact details, dietary requirements and medical needs to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the child.
There is also an expectation that settings should be flexible, taking into account where parents work shifts or atypical hours, especially for parents who are critical workers, and so parents are encouraged to communicate their needs to settings as well as their employer.
- How my child travel to and from their childcare, school or college?
Parents, children and young people are encouraged to walk or cycle where possible and avoid public transport at peak times.
Refer to the safer travel guidance for passengers.
- What precautions should my child take when travelling to school?
From 1 June, children in reception, year 1 and year 6 will be able to attend school, in addition to the children of critical workers and vulnerable children who were already attending school.
This should limit the amount of children travelling to and from school/college to manageable numbers.
When planning your journey to school, particularly if using public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
Pupils and parents should do all they can to help make sure they and others can travel safely.
This can be done through:
- not leaving home if anyone in their household, has symptoms of coronavirus
- avoiding travelling on public transport, particularly at peak times
- maintaining a 2 metre distance from others who are not in their household
- ensuring good respiratory hygiene by using the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
- avoiding touching their face
- washing their hands thoroughly before and after travelling
- wearing a face covering if they need to use public transport
When deciding whether children wear a face covering on school transport, it is also important to remember:
- school transport is unlike public transport, in that it generally carries the same group of children to and from the same destination each day – this may help reduce the risk of cross infection
- children and staff won’t be expected to wear face coverings in school
- it is important that those using face coverings are able to do so properly – guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face coverings available
- children under 2 years old, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, are not recommended to wear face coverings
Free school meals
- If my child is eligible for free school meals, will they still receive a meal or food voucher if they are not attending school?
Yes. Under normal circumstances, schools are not expected to provide free school meals to eligible children who are not attending due to illness or if the school is closed. However, during the coronavirus outbreak, we expect schools to continue to provide support to these children if the school is only open for certain groups or closed.
Headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area. We encourage schools to work with their suppliers to arrange food parcels or collections for families eligible for free school meals. Where this is not possible, a national scheme was launched for schools to provide supermarket vouchers.
Please contact the school if you require any help.
Vulnerable children and children of critical workers
- Is my child counted as vulnerable?
During the coronavirus outbreak, vulnerable children and young people are defined as those who:
- are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
- have an EHC plan and it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment
- have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could, therefore, benefit from continued attendance - this might include children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services, adopted children, those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’), those living in temporary accommodation, those who are young carers and others at the provider and local authority’s discretion
The term ‘all year groups’ in this context for attendance purposes refers to children under 5 eligible for early years entitlements and children and young people aged 5 to 18 (or aged 5 to 25 for children and young people with an EHC plan).
You can access further guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Is it compulsory for parents of vulnerable children to send their children to school?
As per the existing guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak, vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as a risk assessment of a child with an EHC plan determining their needs would be more safely met at home, or a child is shielding due to health conditions).
In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and education provider should explore the reasons for this directly with the parent.
Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting the virus, the education provider should talk through these anxieties with the parent following the advice set out in the implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings guidance.
For children who have an education health and care (EHC) plan, attendance is expected where it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment.
The local authority is working with educational providers, families and the child or young person to carry out these risk assessments.
- How can I report if I am worried that a child or young person might be at risk of harm?
To further protect children and young people from harm, the government is working with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) to expand and promote its helpline.
Parents or any adult will be able to call if they want someone to talk to, and they should get in touch if they are worried about a child or young person. Anyone with concerns should call 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- My child has an EHC plan. What support will they receive?
The government has made some amendments to the law around education, health and care (EHC) plans to provide some flexibility in the current circumstances. Please see published detailed guidance on changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.
- My child has special educational needs (SEN). Can my child go back to school?
Children and young people in eligible year groups with an education, health and care plan are strongly encouraged to attend (where there are no shielding concerns for the child or their household), so that they can gain the educational and wellbeing benefits of attending.
Where you may have concerns about your child’s return, speak to the school special educational needs co-ordinator/Inclusion Manager (SENCo).
- Am I counted as a critical worker?
Critical workers include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors.
Schools and local authorities should ensure that children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list can continue to attend school. If the child’s school is closed, provision should be made, on a temporary basis, at a setting which remains open.
- If only one parent or carer is a critical worker, can I send my children to school?
Children with at least one parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list can attend school.
Resources and support
- What support is available to parents to help them educate their children at home and to access children’s social care services?
The government want to support schools and parents to ensure children and young people’s education can continue.
They also want to ensure that children with a social worker can continue to receive support from children’s social care services and that care leavers have the online access they need to keep in touch with the support and services they need.
For support to access social care services, you should first contact your local authority.
Other available support includes:
- a list of high quality online educational resources which have been assessed with the support of some of the country’s leading educational experts to help pupils to learn at home
- guidance for parents on supporting your children’s education during coronavirus outbreak
- an online resource from Oak National Academy with daily lessons available to both primary and secondary pupils (your child’s school is best placed to advise you regarding whether to use the academy alongside their existing offer)
- enhanced education provision from the BBC, including daily lessons
- Which children and young people are eligible for a laptop or tablet and why?
There are two groups of children and young people eligible for a laptop or tablet who currently lack access. The first is care leavers and children who receive support from a social worker (including families with pre-school children with a social worker, as well as older children), who need to keep in touch with social care services. The second group are disadvantaged students who would not otherwise have access to online learning and are preparing for exams (in year 10).
The government is also working with major telecoms companies to temporarily exempt certain educational resources from data charges. More details on this will follow.
- What resources are available for parents with children under 5 to help support their children’s early learning at home?
For parents with children under 5 years old who have not yet started school, the Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds campaign features tips and practical activities that you can do at home with children to support their early learning. There are many simple ways to help your children learn and it does not have to feel like ‘learning’.
Having everyday conversations, make-believe play and reading together all make a big difference to your child’s development. You can find more ideas and content from the BBC’s Tiny Happy People campaign and the National Literacy Trust’s Family Zone. We have also published further guidance on how to help children aged 2 to 4 to learn at home during the coronavirus outbreak.
- What advice is available to parents with children, to help them support their children’s education at home?
The government has published guidance for parents to support the continuation of education at home. This includes advice and guidance around:
- structuring the day
- use of digital devices
- language development
- reading and writing
- information tailored to each age group
This guidance is designed to complement support and advice provided by schools and teachers. Engaging with your child’s learning will be helpful in their continued educational development. For example, something as simple as talking to them during the day about what they are doing for school, or about anything around the home, enhances learning.
- There is too much pressure on broadband connections in my area. How can my child participate in remote education?
The government is having regular calls with the major fixed and mobile operators, and with Ofcom, to monitor the situation and ensure that any problems on the networks are rapidly addressed and rectified.
We fully understand the importance of having reliable internet connectivity, particularly at this time, so that people can work from home wherever possible and access critical public services online, including health information.
- Is my child at additional risk while spending more time online?
With children spending more time online to do schoolwork and other activities, there could be an additional risk. This is why it is more important than ever that children, parents and carers know how to stay safe online.
It is especially important that you talk to your children about online safety, show an interest in what they are doing online, including knowing the sites they will be accessing and who your child is interacting with online. In talking to your children, you can discuss age-appropriate ‘ground rules’ such as how much time they spend online doing different things, what games and apps are appropriate to use and what their children like and dislike about being online. You should also consider setting up and reviewing age-appropriate parental controls. Setting parental controls can be a quick and effective tool to help protect children online.
We know some parents and carers may choose to supplement the school or college online offer with support from online companies and in some cases individual tutors. This should only be secured from a reputable organisation/individual who can provide evidence that they are safe and can be trusted to have access to children.
- Where can I go to get support to help keep my child safe online?
Here are some useful links to help you keep their children safe online:
- government guidance on keeping children safe from online harmssuch as child sexual exploitation, cyberbullying and harmful content
- government guidance on staying safe onlineincluding parental controls, fact-checking information, communicating with family and friends while social distancing is in place and taking regular breaks from the screen
- Thinkuknowis the education programme from the National Crime Agency (NCA) proving age-appropriate resources for children and support for parents
- Parent Infois a collaboration between Parentzone and the NCA providing support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations
- Childnetprovides a tool kit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support
- Internet Mattersprovides age-specific online safety checklists, guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices and a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world
- LGfLprovides support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including 6 top tips to keep primary aged children safe online
- Net Awareprovides support for parents and carers from the NSPCC and O2, providing a guide to social networks, apps and games
- Let’s Talk About Itprovides support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation
- UK Safer Internet Centreprovides tips, advice, guides and resources to help keep children safe online, including parental controls offered by home internet providers and safety tools on social networks and other online services
Age-appropriate practical support on reporting concerns is available from:
- Childline- for support
- UK Safer Internet Centre- to report and remove harmful online content
- CEOP- for advice on making a report about online abuse
- What support is available to parents to help them maintain their family’s wellbeing while their children are at home?
Social connections, alongside exercise, sleep, diet and routine, are important protective factors for mental health.
Materials to promote and support mental wellbeing are included in the list of online resources we have published to help children to learn at home. Public Health England’s Rise Above platform supports young people. The Department of Health and Social Care is providing £5 million of additional funding to support mental health charities to increase their provision for adults and children at this time.
Social isolation, reduced exercise and bereavement may affect children’s wellbeing in this period. Resources to promote and support children and young people’s mental wellbeing include:
- MindEd educational resources for adults about children and young people’s mental healthwhich is relevant for parents and carers as well as volunteers, teachers, and other professionals working with children
- Every Mind Matterswhich supports looking after your own and other’s mental health
- guidance on looking after wellbeing and mental healthduring the coronavirus outbreak
- guidance on supporting children’s wellbeing and mental health
All NHS mental health trusts are setting up 24/7 helplines and seeking to use digital and virtual channels to continue delivering support during the coronavirus outbreak.
- What support is available for children/young people who receive SEN support?
Pupils who would usually be in receipt of SEN support (those without EHC plans) do not automatically meet the definition of ‘vulnerable children’. Local authorities and schools/colleges have the flexibility to consider whether other children have vulnerabilities that mean they are safer at school/college than at home. However, we recommend that these decisions are taken based on risk assessment involving education settings, local authorities and parents. Further information can be found in the guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
Pupils on SEN support who remain at home will continue to have ongoing learning needs. Ensuring there are good communication channels between education settings and parents during this period is essential, as well as aiming to ensure that schools and colleges provide access to appropriate teaching materials wherever possible. Special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) in particular may be able to act as a contact point for families of children on SEN support. SENCOs will typically lead on ensuring that children and young people with SEN have access to materials they can use to learn and consolidate their learning at home. The government has also published details of remote learning resources, which includes those designed for children with SEND.
If you have any further questions, please contact the office, either by email or telephone.