As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
And 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 must, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why 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.
It is important to underline that schools, all childcare settings (including early years settings, childminders and providers of childcare for school-age children), colleges and other educational establishments, remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and 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.
We know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties, and we will support head teachers to do so.
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 must be.
Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they must 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 must also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They must 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 a critical sector, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision.
Maritime and key workers
The government has designated 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, as key workers.
If any individual covered by the scope set out above faces difficulties in practice, they are asked to contact Paul Owen.