The Government published further guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision in the early hours of 20th March.
Who are critical workers?
Children of people whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response or who work in one of the critical sectors listed below will be prioritised for education provision if they cannot be kept safe at home.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories listed below 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 critical sectors listed are:
Health and social care
- 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 child care
- nursery and teaching staff,
- social workers
- specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
- people 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
- journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting
Local and national government
- administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response
- administrative occupations delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms-length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
- those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery
- those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)
Public safety and national security
- 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
- other national security roles, including those overseas.
- 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
Includes staff needed for the following to continue during the COVID-19 response
- 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
- primary industry supplies
- civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre operations, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services),
- postal services and delivery,
- payments provision and waste disposal services.
Who are vulnerable children?
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, those on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
What does this mean for schools and parents?
Schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings have been asked to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can, including over the Easter holidays. The government is 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 it is acknowledged that this will be impossible for some schools, particularly if staff shortages become critical.
Special schools will be kept open wherever possible. Special schools, colleges and local authorities will make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
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. However, there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.
Where a setting is unable to stay open, parents should contact their local educational authority, to find an alternative setting for their pupils and transport arrangements, if required.
Guidance for schools is available here
Guidance for parents is available here
If you would like to speak to someone within our education team then please contact our offices on 01228 552222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Please note that both telephone and video appointments can be arranged during this period of self-isolation.