With schools set to close after today in response to the escalating coronavirus outbreak, the government has released two guidance documents which provide further clarity to schools and to parents and carers on how the closures will work.
Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision
The underlying basis for this guidance is to explain the rationale behind the government’s decision to close schools for many children but allow the children of key workers to still attend.
They deliver five key principles that parents should follow in respect of keeping children at home. This includes not relying on childcare from those who may be more vulnerable to the virus, such as grandparents, friends or family members with underlying conditions.
They also recommended that children do mix socially and observe similar social distancing to that of adults in order to avoid any further spread of the virus.
If a child needs specialist support or is vulnerable, then educational provision will be available for them.
They define vulnerable children as those who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Who are the Key Workers?
For those whose work is considered critical to the COVID-19 response, their children will also still be able to attend school.
The government have listed these key workers under eight categories, including frontline health workers, police and support staff, nursery and teaching staff and those involved in food production and delivery.
Essential jobs in key public services, transport, local and national government and utilities, communication and financial services make up the rest of the critical areas.
For a full list of the key workers, click here.
Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers
In separate guidance published today, the DfE have created a ‘question and answer’ paper for parents and carers which aims to clarify some of the most commonly raised points following the announcement to close schools.
The guidance has been structured into 5 broad areas and provides general information on who the closures will apply to, how it may impact them and how it will be applied, covering some of the most frequently asked questions in relation to key workers and vulnerable children.
It also confirms that exams will not go ahead in the summer and that the DfE are working with providers to deliver resources for children to access while at home to help with their education.
You can read the guidance in full here.
As part of our ongoing commitment to bring you the latest updates in policy and government advice, we will be providing a special webinar series on any new guidance published by the DfE surrounding coronavirus and what this means for education.
Further details will follow soon.