As you will know, from Friday 20th March 2020, all schools, colleges and early years settings in England will close to the majority of young people. However, the government has indicated that after this week, it is asking schools to open to provide care for children of key workers and vulnerable children. This is not a statutory requirement; schools are being asked to help as part of a national response.
This is a very different type of provision than schools usually provide. For these pupils, it will be about care, not necessarily education. This is about keeping children safe and allowing key workers (such as NHS staff) to go to work and care for the sick, or to keep food supply chains and transport links moving. All expectations regarding educational provision have been lifted. Schools that provide this care will be free to determine what the provision looks like and what they deem to be best for the pupils they are supporting. It is our intention that children accessing this provision will follow the work set on our online platforms, as well as some life skills and enrichment activities. Once plans have been formalised, we may require children to bring sports kit and/or outdoor clothing.
It is important to reiterate that schools will still need to make individual decisions about whether it is safe to open from now onwards. It remains the case that if the schools do not have enough staff to care for young people safely (even based on the new ‘reduced provision’ approach) then, subject to a risk assessment and consultation with the chair of governors, a full or partial closure may be necessary. We will have to keep this decision under daily review.
Overnight, the government published a list of critical workers. The expectation from Monday is that schools remain open for children of these critical workers and vulnerable children only. The list covers eight categories as outlined below. If you believe you fall into one of these categories, please refer to more detailed government guidance through the following link https://www.gov.uk/…/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-loca…
• Health and social care
• Education and childcare
• Key public services
• Local and national government
• Food and other necessary goods
• Public safety and national security
• Utilities, communication and financial services
We must bear in mind that the schools have been closed to reduce social contact between people as a preventative measure to fight coronavirus. To have too many children in the building in these circumstances defeats the purpose of closure and therefore it is important that parents and carers follow the guidance set out below by the government.
1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
Department for Education, March 2020
Where both/lone parents are critical workers, children should only be brought into school when both/lone parents are working and we need advance notice of this so we are able to plan appropriate staffing levels. We are relying on the honesty of parents in terms of their key worker status and trust that no one will abuse this.
We have asked all parents to notify us as a matter of urgency if they fall into these critical worker categories AND intend to continue to send their child to school, whether every day on a full-time basis, or on a partial basis. If you have not already done this, please do so by 4pm today. This will enable us to create a definitive list of which students to expect on Monday morning and thereafter. Should these students then not arrive to school, we will contact parents and carers to check their whereabouts from a safeguarding stance. Communication between you and us is imperative for your child’s safety and wellbeing.
We will communicate further with families who have identified themselves as critical workers to arrange which sessions are required.
This has been the strangest week in school and we really appreciate the kind words of support we have had from parents. It seems incredibly surreal to think we may not see some of our children for a long time and we can only hope that the ‘foreseeable future’ is not as long as we fear and that we all make it safely to the other side of it.
As we have communicated previously, there is work available for students through Class Charts and RMUnify which everyone can access. If students find problems accessing this, they should contact school as we will still be here to offer support. We plan to stay in contact with families via Class Charts and email throughout the weeks, and potentially months ahead, whilst the school remains closed to the majority. Our students remain our priority and we will do everything we can to continue to support their learning and keep them prepared for their return to school, whenever that may be. In some cases, our safeguarding team will be in contact with some families on a more regular basis.
Whilst the advice is to physically isolate, do not be afraid to seek help or support should you need it. Please keep us updated of any ‘good news’ stories that we can share across our social media platforms. The SMCC community is a strong one and there is no better time than now to maintain our school values of ‘Ready, Resilient, Respectful’. Please look after yourselves and each other, and be safe.