The Government has instructed that, after this week, it is asking schools to open to provide care for children of key workers and vulnerable children – schools are being asked to help as part of a national response. We all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
This is a very different type of provision than schools usually provide; for these pupils, it will be about care, not education. This is about keeping children safe and allowing key workers to go to work and care for the sick, or to keep food supply chains moving.
All expectations regarding educational provision have been lifted. Schools that provide this care will be free to determine what the provision looks like and what they deem to be best for the pupils they are supporting.
It is important to emphasise that the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
Therefore, 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.
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then care provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
This morning the government have communicated the list of key workers. They have stated:
‘If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for care provision.’
These include children of identified key workers:
- Health and Social Care including doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
- Education and Childcare settings including nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
- Key public services including those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
- Local and national government including those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
- Food and other necessary goods including those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
- Public safety and national security including police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
- Transport including those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
- Utilities, communication and financial services including staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
Whilst we remain open, to provide care for a limited number of children, we are very keen to keep our school a happy and safe place for those pupils who will be in attendance. Therefore, school times will be as normal:
- Breakfast Club will be available from 7.45am; and
- School will open 8.55am and close at 3.15pm
Please note: if you have not ordered a meal through our school meal provider-Ideal, please provide your child with a packed lunch. If you have ordered a meal your child will be provided with a lunch.
For those children who are vulnerable and whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home and you would like your child to be cared for at school, starting Monday 23rd March, then please respond to the ParentmailPMX survey which will be sent today.
Please respond to the survey as soon as possible if you think this applies to you and intend to send your child to school so that we can plan to staff this provision from Monday 23rd March. Please give us as much notice as possible in order for us to do this as the size of the task is significant in such unprecedented conditions.
Please note, we will be unable to provide this service for any parents not in the specific groups as identified by the Government. In addition, if we do not hear from you, we will assume you may not require this service and will plan accordingly.
We appreciate that these are unprecedented times, with many families feeling anxious or worried about the pending school closures.
Thank you once again for your support and understanding.
Any changes to this advice will be communicated to parents via ParentmailPMX and our school website.