Sunday has seen the release of the much-awaited guidance on COVID-19 and vulnerable children and young people.
You can download the guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people
From a first read, this is not actively unhelpful but hasn’t answered a number of the questions we know schools have been raising with DfE via NASS.
We were pleased to pick up a more nuanced approach about special schools staying open, with a greater emphasis on risk assessing whether it was safer for children to be in school or at home. Schools are described as being ‘partially closed’ rather than ‘fully open’. However, there is still a general expectation that residential settings will stay open where they can and suggestions that LAs should be helping schools find additional staff and support to stay open. Whilst LAs are told to work ‘across traditional boundaries’, this stops short of stating that they must offer support to our members. DfE has stated that it will be working with NASS on this so we will do our best to get more information for you as soon as we can.
We were also pleased to note that the message about special schools staying open over Easter is now more subtle – phrased as a ‘you may’, rather than a ‘you must’. We hope this takes some of the pressure off.
The guidance is more lacking on concerns raised by schools about access to Person Protective Equipment, access to testing and monitoring staff temperatures. We will chase for answers on these issues and any others raised but not answered in the guidance. Please feel free to keep feeding these forward to us.
You might have spotted that guidance has been issued today on ’shielding the extremely vulnerable’: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19 Children are included in this guidance and we fear it may leave schools even more confused about whether or not they should be staying open and offering a service! For those who feel closure is the most reasonable action, this may be helpful.
COVID-19: school closures – what schools will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This guidance is for all types of school temporarily closed due to the epidemic. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures?utm_source=94b38651-cf81-4ef5-84d7-82c902c448f7&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Also released today was guidance on how schools should mark attendance during partial opening: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-attendance-recording-for-educational-settings?utm_source=4bde0e74-2e3b-43ee-bdee-320221d5ff91&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Finally, our ever helpful safeguarding expert, Carolyn Eyre has pulled together guidance for NASS members on how to assess and manage safeguarding during the epidemic. This is available here and we ae very grateful for her support.
As stated, we expect to be in regular contact with DfE this week and will keep on raising your issues with them. If you don’t want to email, our twitter feed has picked up a wide audience in the past week and we will raise any queries raised via this route @NASSCHOOLS
Wishing everyone well as we venture into the unknown!
Claire, Karen, Kate and Jenny