Notice for our families

Notice for our families, based on a summary of Government advice, published, 24 March 2020

From 20 March 2020, schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings in England will close for all but the most vulnerable children and for children of critical workers.

Vulnerable children in this context include children who have a social worker and those children and young people with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Those who have a social worker include children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. A child may also be deemed to be vulnerable if they have been assessed as being in need or otherwise meet the definition in section 17 of the Children Act 1989.

Critical workers are defined as parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response, including those who work in health and social care and in other critical sectors.

  • However, many parents working in critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home.
  • Every child, including vulnerable children, who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

It was announced on 23 March that the UK would enter a stricter period of social distancing, with people only allowed to leave home for very limited purposes. The UK-wide measures are intended to delay the spread of the virus – if the majority of the country are strictly self-isolating, this allows for some people to gather where that is necessary, whether it be in hospitals, food production facilities, or in schools or childcare settings. However, if at all possible, children should not come to school.

If you have certain medical conditions, you ought to shield yourself and your family, and remain away from school:

How to implement social distancing

To help ensure that the risk of virus spread for both staff and children is as low as possible, we will:

  • tell children, parents, carers or any visitors, such as suppliers, not to visit the education or childcare setting if they are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19);
  • consider how children arrive at the education or childcare setting and reduce any unnecessary travel on coaches, buses or public transport;
  • ensure class sizes reflect the numbers of teaching staff available and are kept as small as possible;
  • discourage parents from gathering at school gates;
  • try to follow the social distancing guidelines;
  • make sure anyone who is feeling ill stays at home;
  • ensure all staff and children wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently, and are encouraged not to touch their face, while using a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and using bins for tissue waste.
  • inform parents and communities about the measures that we are taking and get their help to implement them;
  • continue cleaning of surfaces in classrooms, including desks and handles, and within toilet blocks and changing rooms, adhering to guidance on cleaning of non-healthcare settings;
  • for children and young people with an EHC plan, work with the local authority as well as with parents to decide how best to continue supporting these children and young people to stay healthy.

The DfE will work with schools, childcare settings and local authorities to ensure that adequate supplies of personal and domestic cleaning products are available to schools.

What parents can do:

Talk to your children about coronavirus (COVID-19), social distancing and hand-washing.
Follow guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.
Do not gather at entrances or in playgrounds, and model social distancing so that your children learn good practice.

We have been asked to advise those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

This group includes those who are:

Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full. People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:

  • – people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
    – people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
    – people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
    – people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
    – people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)