Updates and further information on the partial closure of Kent schools will be published here as it becomes available.
Further details on arrangements for exams which have been cancelled to fight spread of coronavirus has been released by government, Click here for more details.
Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, Matt Dunkley, has today issued the following letter to parents and carers:
Support for parents of children entitled to and needing a school or childcare place during the period of partial closure of schools and childcare settings
The Government has asked schools and childcare settings to remain open from Monday, March 23, 2020 to children of key workers, vulnerable pupils (ie those with a social worker) and those with Education, Health and care Plans.
Some schools if they cannot open due to staff shortages or very small numbers, may make arrangements with other schools for their eligible students to go there. The Government’s definition of key workers is now available.
The Government’s guidance means that if one or more parents in a family are key workers their children are in the group of those who should be able to access school or childcare provision during this current period.
If your child falls into the eligible category and you are unsure whether your child’s school or setting is open you can find information on the KCC School Closures websites
This will tell you if your child’s school is open, closed and if any limitations are in place. The information is updated directly by schools.
If your child’s school or childcare setting is closed to you and you need help finding provision at this time please contact:
For nursery and childcare settings:
Email – email@example.com
Telephone – 03000 41 23 23
For school settings:
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – 03000 41 21 21
Government has released a list of key workers – schools are being asked to continue to provide care for children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education has spoken to reassure parents, carers, pupils and school and nursery staff after the Government announced schools will close from today(Friday, March 20).
Matt Dunkley, said: “We have been in regular contact with schools since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak and we will continue to support them now the Government has announced the closure of all schools and nurseries to the majority of pupils.
“Head teachers will now communicate with parents and carers to let them know what arrangements are in place for their school and we will continue to update families via the county council and individual school websites.
“We are already liaising with the Kent Association of Headteachers, and our partner agencies, to explore ways that teachers who are fit to work can help to support vulnerable learners and the children of key workers during term time.
“We are also looking into the possibility of putting some school buildings into use during the school holidays. We will continue to develop these plans in response to the Government’s announcement.
“These discussions are in the very early stages and more information will be released as it becomes available.
“We anticipate that more detailed information, including around examinations, will be released by the Government in due course.
“We appreciate this is an uncertain time and that many families will be worried but we would like to reassure them that the measures have been introduced to protect all members of our community.
“We would ask all families to continue to monitor the latest guidance from Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care and to follow the basic hygiene and safety advice issued by these organisations as this is the most effective way to keep your loved ones safe.”
Schools are being asked to continue to provide care for children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children 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.
- 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 educational 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.
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 education provision:
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to 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
This includes 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
This includes 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
This only includes 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
This includes 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
This includes 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.
This includes 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
This includes 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.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
The Government has also released the below FAQ.
What age groups does this cover?
The changes cover children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges. This is for both state-funded and independent schools.
Will it be mandatory for all schools, colleges and registered childcare providers to remain open in some form?
We are asking schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can.
We understand that some may be unable to do so especially if they are experiencing severe staff shortages. We will work with local areas to use neighbouring schools, colleges and childcare providers to continue to support vulnerable children and children of critical workers.
How long will schools and colleges be closed for?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, schools, colleges and childcare providers will be closed to the majority of pupils until further notice.
Will this apply to independent schools and boarding schools?
Yes. We are asking independent schools and boarding schools to do the same as state schools and remain open for critical workers and vulnerable children.
Will registered childcare providers, schools and colleges be open over Easter holidays for holiday clubs and childcare?
Where possible, we would encourage childcare providers, schools and colleges to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays.
I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child – can you guarantee that my child will attend their usual school or childcare provider?
We are expecting the majority of settings to stay open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children so they can continue to attend their usual provider, but we acknowledge this will be impossible for some – such as small rural schools.
Where a setting is unable to stay open, we will work with the local educational authority, regional school commissioners and neighbouring providers to find an alternative setting for their pupils.
I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child – how will my child get to school if the only school open is not nearby?
We are working closely with local authorities to ensure that children can attend the best setting for them, and will provide transport arrangements to support them.
I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child but I don’t want to send my child in to school or childcare, do I have to?
Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.
For vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.
Does this affect universities and other higher education institutions?
Universities and other higher education providers should make their own judgements based on latest Public Health England guidance. Vice chancellors are well placed to make decisions about their own institution, and many have already moved all their teaching online. The government is supporting them with these decisions.
Advice continues to be that all student accommodation should remain open unless advised otherwise by Public Health England. Many universities provide homes to international students, estranged students and care leavers who might not have anywhere else to go.
The Department is working with the Home Office to avoid individuals and institutions being penalised if online provision inadvertently leads to non-compliance with Tier 4 visa rules.
Does this apply to special schools?
We recognise that children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) and their parents and carers are facing numerous challenges as a result of coronavirus.
We are encouraging local authorities to keep open both residential special schools and residential specialist colleges wherever possible. In addition, we want to keep the majority of day special schools and colleges open, including moving staff into these settings to avoid closure.
Special schools, colleges and local authorities are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. We trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required.
Why is my nursery telling me that they will continue to charge me during corona virus-related closures?
The government acknowledges that in many cases, the insurance that early years providers have will not cover them for income lost during COVID-19-related closures.
That is one of the reasons why it announced on 17 March that government would not claw back early years entitlements funding from local authorities during closures, or where children are withdrawn because of COVID-19. This protects a significant proportion of early years providers’ income.
In addition, the government has set out a range of support for businesses to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on them. This includes a business rate holiday for all private childcare providers for one year from 1 April. Local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of this.
In light of these steps taken already, we are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents. The government is urgently keeping what further support businesses may require under close review.
What will happen to exams?
Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels will not go ahead this summer.
We are working with the sector and Ofqual to ensure young people get the qualifications they need. Further details will be provided shortly.
Is my child counted as vulnerable?
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Children who have a social worker include children in need, children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. We will work with schools, early years, FE providers and local authorities to help identify the children who most need support at this time.
We know that schools will also want to look to support other children who are vulnerable where they are able to do so.
What will happen with free school meals for those not in school and colleges?
We know that free school meals are important for many families.
To make sure eligible children can continue to be supported, we will give schools and colleges the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals.
They will be reimbursed by the Department. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system.
More information on support for pupils eligible for school meals is available.
Will I be counted as a critical worker?
Critical workers include NHS staff, police, farmers and food retail workers, who need to be able to go out to work.
In order to continue to offer critical services as part of the country’s ongoing response to the virus, children of workers who form a central part of effort – such as NHS workers, police and delivery drivers – will also continue to attend school, college or childcare provider.
A full list of critical workers and further information is available.
If only one parent or carer is a critical worker, can I send my children in to school?
Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required.
Resources and support
What support will be available to parents to help them educate their children at home?
More information will follow about what DfE is doing to support parents. We are working with the BBC and others to provide resources for children to access while at home. For parents with children under five years old see hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk
There is too much pressure on broadband connections in my area – how can my child do online learning?
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 at this time, so that people can work from home wherever possible and access critical public services online, including health information.