The following information applies to England only
The government now wants all children and young people to return to education on a phased basis, gradually increasing the numbers of children and young people attending schools and colleges.
The government is aware of how important it is for children and young people’s mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers. In addition to this, children returning to education and childcare settings will also allow more families to return to work.
From 1st June 2020 the government will be:
- Opening schools for children (alongside priority groups) in:
- year 1
- year 6
- Opening nurseries and other early year’s providers, including childminders, are to begin welcoming back all children. Childminders can look after children of all ages, in line with usual limits on the number of children they can care for.
In addition to this:
- A phased return of more children and young people, without a focus on specific year groups, in:
- special schools
- special post-16 institutions
- hospital schools
- Secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges will be asked to offer some face-to-face support to help the remote education of year 10 and 12 students who are due to take key exams next year.
Where the physical layout of a setting does not allow small groups of children to be kept at a safe distance apart, the government will expect practitioners to exercise judgement in ensuring the highest standards of safety are maintained. In some cases, it may be necessary for providers to introduce a temporary cap on numbers to ensure that safety is prioritised.
The government would like to bring all primary year groups back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, although this will be kept under review. They will only welcome back additional year groups if the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus indicates it is appropriate to have larger numbers of children within schools.
The following principles should be followed by all schools and educational settings for vulnerable children & adults
- Vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so (for children with education health and care (EHC) plans this will be informed by a risk assessment approach).
- Children, young people and staff who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield. The government does not expect people in this category to be attending school or college, and they should continue to be supported to learn or work at home as much as possible. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. Few if any children will fall into this category, but parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category. Staff in this category should work from home where possible, and refer to the detail in our protective measures guidance.
- A child/young person or a member of staff who lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, can attend their education or childcare setting.
- If a child/young person or staff member lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the guidance on shielding, it is advised they only attend an education or childcare setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and, in the case of children, if they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn or work at home.
- Staff and children or young people should not attend if they have symptoms or are self-isolating due to symptoms in their household
- Protective measures will be put in place for staff and pupils, as far as is possible, to ensure that the risk of transmission is reduced.
Those who are clinically vulnerable, or are living with someone who is, should follow the government’s protective measure guidance.
If the child I am caring for is eligible, is it compulsory for them to attend school?
The government strongly encourage children and young people in the eligible year groups and priority groups (such as children of critical workers) to attend, as requested by their school or college, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions).
You should notify your child’s school or college as normal if your child is unable to attend so that staff are aware and can discuss with you.
***Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at the time of writing this but you should closely monitor any changes to this information.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings
Children will need to stay within their new class/group wherever possible and settings will be asked to implement a range of protective measures including increased cleaning, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of day), and utilising outdoor space.
Staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households. A positive test will ensure rapid action to protect other children and staff.
Further guidance on protective measures can be found here.
Parents, children and young people should be encouraged to walk or cycle where possible, and avoid public transport at peak times.
The government will shortly publish guidance on how to travel safely, which schools, parents and young people can refer to when planning their travel, particularly if public transport is required.
Home to school transport provided or organised by schools, trusts or local authorities varies widely. You will need to contact your local authority for further information regarding school transport in your area.
Further guidance and support
The government has also published:
- Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020
- Supporting guidance on protective measures which should be implemented in education settings
- Guidance for parents and carers
- Existing guidance for schools and educational settings
The government are also working to produce more detailed guidance ahead of 1 June 2020, which we will publish as soon as we can.
The rest of the UK
The message remains the same for the rest of the UK. Stay at Home. Schools will remain closed until further notice.
Kinship Care helpline – call 0808 800 0006 for confidential advice. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles.
Children 1st Parent Line – call 0800 028 2233 For help with emotional and practical issues.
Kinship Scot – has lots of information on their website regarding support for kinship carers in Scotland.
Kinship Care: Northern Ireland – phone 0800-022-3129.
Kinship Care: Department of Health for information about the policies in your area.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact our advice line on 0300 123 7015 daily from 9.30am to 3.30pm –and Tuesdays and Thursday evenings from 8pm to 9.30pm. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.