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Warwickshire County Council
Warwickshire County Council

Coronavirus – Guidance for Parents and Carers

Schools, FE Colleges and Early Years settings are now closed to most families.

Advice for parents and carers who have children in the education system.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) include a range of concerns and areas for parents. There will be a stream of questions which we will endeavour to provide responses for on a regular basis. Some initial questions are shown below and typical enquiries have covered:

  • Which schools will remain open?
  • Who will be eligible to attend and work at schools?
  • What will happen to the children who aren't eligible to attend a school?
  • If my child is eligible to attend a school, do I legally have to send them?
  • I am a key worker. Do I still send children to school when I am not working?
  • How will children get to school? Will there be transport provided?
  • I am not classed as a key worker but my child is entitled to free school meals. Do we receive any help towards that?
  • My child is eligible to attend a school. What should I do if they are sick and unable to attend (if non corona virus related)?
  • What will happen around GCSEs and A levels?

Government guidance is clear; it is essential that as many children as possible remain away from school settings if we are to tackle the spread of Coronavirus. We must do all we can to keep our children and our communities safe and adhere to this guidance wherever possible.

Question Answer
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 Early Years and 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. Where necessary, we will work with alternative 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. Independent schools and boarding schools are being asked to do the same as state schools and remain open for critical workers and vulnerable children.

Where an educational setting is unable to stay open, the local authority, regional school commissioners and neighbouring providers will work together to find an alternative setting for their pupils.

I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child but my children’s school has closed. What should I do? Arrangements are being made in our local area to ensure that your child can still attend school. If your school hasn’t already informed you about those arrangements, please contact the local authority. They will be working with other educational providers to make alternative arrangements.
What if I have to leave my children unattended?

Please read the government advice on the law on leaving children unattended.

There is no law about when you can leave your child on their own but it is an offence to leave them alone if it places them at risk. As parents, you should use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them at home.

It is important to be aware that you can be prosecuted if you leave a child alone ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’. If you are at all unsure, the NSPCC recommends that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time, children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight and babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

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 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. Residential special schools and other special settings should be supported to remain open, wherever possible.

Special schools, colleges and local authorities have been advised to make case by case 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.

In light of these steps taken already, we are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents.

Will children on free school meals still receive a meal or food voucher when schools close?

Yes. Headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area. Schools can provide food on site, arrange deliveries or purchase a voucher to be given to the family. More information on support for pupils eligible for school meals is available.

Contact your school to find out which option they are providing.

There is also further support available through the Warwickshire Local Welfare Scheme.

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 our schools, early years, FE providers 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.

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. Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place.

If children can stay safely at home, they should, 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.

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 is critical to the COVID-19 response can attend school if required.

However, many families with a parent or carer working in critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

I am a critical worker or my child is vulnerable. Do I have to send them to school?

Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place. However, many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

There is an expectation that vulnerable children will attend school, so long as it is safe for them to do so. In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring

their child to school, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and school should explore the reasons for this, directly with the parent, and help to resolve any concerns or difficulties wherever possible. Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting the virus, the school should talk through these anxieties with the parent following the advice set out by Public Health England.

Providers may also want to consider how to encourage vulnerable children and young people to attend provision. Social workers will remain in contact with vulnerable children and families, including remotely if needed.

What support will be available to parents to help them educate their children at home? Schools will be leading on this provision initially. Please contact your school for further advice.
My child was due to take GCSEs or A levels this summer. What will happen to them? The government has issued guidelines for all pupils in these year groups. We are also working closely with local schools to identify the implications for Warwickshire learners