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Warwickshire County Council
Warwickshire County Council

Coronavirus - guidance for education leaders in education settings and schools

Headteachers should contact the WCC Coronavirus for school leaders telephone line before deciding to close their school, for further advice and guidance.

Question Answer
What advice are the government providing for early years and childcare providers including childminders?

On Thursday 19 March 2020 the government produced guidance documentation for educational settings – this guidance should be followed by all early years and childcare providers and childminders. The government have also produced information for parents and carers. The guidance documents are available via the links below and from the Warwickshire Early Years Facebook page:

Do we have to close? Do I have to stay open for 1 or 2 children? Can I open some days and not others? Can I close until after Easter and then review people's need at that point?

You must follow the government guidance as stated above. Where possible every child who can be, should be safely cared for at home. Early Years Providers remain open until the end of the day on Friday 20 March 2020. From Monday 23 March, Early Years providers and childminders remain open where possible to children who need specialist support, are vulnerable or have a parent who is a critical worker.  We are currently working on guidance for settings where there are only a small number of children eligible to continue attending including the possibility of settings combining in order to manage staff shortages and utilise resources effectively.

Who are the key / critical workers?

The government guidance states that key/ critical workers are from the following service areas, please see the guidance for full information:

  • Health and social care – includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, social workers, frontline staff
  • Education and childcare – includes early years staff, teachers, social workers, specialist education professionals
  • Key public services – justice system workers, religious staff, charities and workers delivering front line services
  • Local and national government – only those workers who are administrative and necessary for the effective delivery of COVID-19 response or essential public services
  • Food and other necessary goods – include those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods
  • Public safety and national security – include police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue service employees, national crime agency staff, border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles
  • Transport – includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID -19 response
  • Utilities, communication and financial services – includes staff need for essential financial services, oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies, key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals,
  • telecommunications, payments providers and waste disposal sectors
Do parents have to provide proof they are in the role they say? The guidance does not specify this currently, however providers may wish to implement their own local arrangements in order to evidence that they had asked this of parents/carers.

If only one parent falls into a key worker category should their children be cared for at home?

The aim of the COVID-19 response is to reduce social contact. Government advice is that wherever possible children should be cared for at home however the government guidance states that:

  • Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their child to school (setting) if required

Who are the other children who can continue to attend my setting?

Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. You may have other children who are experiencing social difficulties that you will continue supporting in your setting.

Are all 2HELP and EYPP children included in the Vulnerable children category?

These children will only continue to attend your setting if their parents fall into one of the key / critical worker categories outlined above or if the children are also classed individually as Vulnerable – See Question 6.

How do we provide the care for these children? i.e. are there any guidelines? Will we be able to use our premises as usual?

As far as possible if you have children in the identified groups, you will use your own premises. We are currently looking at a range of contingency plans and solutions and will update settings as soon as possible.

Will ratios remain the same or will we be required to look after more children per member of staff?

Wherever possible the usual ratios should be sustained. In extenuating circumstances, please be guided by the EYFS Statutory Guidance: Page 23, 3.30 and page 26 3.42. Each organisation is responsible for providing and recording the reasons why they made the decision to change ratios.

It will be a provider’s responsibility to determine how they run their business in line with the current exceptional circumstances whilst also meeting all requirements published by the government in relation to COVID-19 and undertaking a risk-based approach to ensure the health, safety and well-being of children and staff.

Will there be staffing restrictions? i.e. can we have our full team in if we are able to do so?

This will need to be determined by individual organisations based on their needs and will need to be managed dynamically as demand changes.

What about the children of staff or childminders who are usually attending a school or an early years setting?

For the time being whilst further plans are being developed childminders and early years and childcare setting staff are included in the key / critical worker category and therefore their own children should continue to attend school or an early years setting as usual.

What funding will we get? Can we still charge parents if we have to close? What help will we get to prevent permanent closure of settings?

Settings will need to continue to implement their own individual contractual arrangement with parents who buy additions services from them including any additional hours above their Early Education Entitlement Hours.

The government has confirmed that early education funding payments will continue to be made.

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 April 1 2020. The government are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents. The government is keeping further support for business under close review.

For staff that are not self-isolating but are still employed with us, but may not receive pay because we haven’t got the demand for work or have closed – what can they claim?

Please refer to the information on the government website.

Can you send us whatever paperwork you have that we would need to fill out to claim any government financial assistance that is available to Early Years settings?

The Local Authority does not have access to wider information about this at the present time. Please continue to follow the GOV.UK pages and we will continue to provide advice as we receive it ourselves.

Will Warwickshire provide updates on what this looks like in practice?

We will provide updates as plans develop.

How and when should educational settings record daily attendance of learners eligible to attend schools, colleges and early years settings?

The Department of Education has published a video to assist schools with the recording of learner attendance at educational settings.

 

Coronavirus - Guidance for School Leaders in Education Settings and Schools | Useful links