School is now closed to all children except to those of critical key workers who are expected to attend work during this pandemic.
Department of Education 23.03.2020
We have asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and for schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, all childcare settings (including early years settings, childminders and providers of childcare for school-age children), colleges and other educational establishments, remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
While as many schools as possible should try to stay open for eligible pupils, this will not be possible for all settings and the local authority should coordinate pooling of resources so pupils are able to access provision elsewhere.
The following Q&A should be read alongside the:
Why do we have to prioritise children?
The first aim of the partial school closure measures set out by the Secretary of State for Education is to reduce the overall population of children moving around local areas as far as possible, in order to further reduce the number of social interactions and thus flatten the upward curve of the COVID-19 outbreak.
However, the second aim is to continue to care for children who are vulnerable, or whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response, so that they can continue to work where alternative childcare arrangements cannot be made.
How are critical workers defined?
Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place, so long as their job cannot be done from home.
Many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
We will monitor closely the experience of schools in identifying critical workers and their capacity to respond to the needs of critical workers. Government is working with representatives of school leaders to ensure they have the clarity they need in identifying critical workers. We will publish updates to this guidance should it prove necessary to provide further points of clarification over the identification of critical workers.
How are vulnerable children defined?
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those children and young people up to the age of 25 with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Prime Minister yesterday 16th March announced new measures to deal with Covid-19 which includes the following:
If anyone in your household is suffering with symptoms the whole household should isolate themselves for 14 days.
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
- if you live with others and you or another member of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
- Pregnant women, those over 70 and those with underlying serious health conditions should take additional care
- During the next few days, people within the high risk group will be asked to isolate for 12 weeks – further advice when this information becomes available
- Everyone should avoid non-essential social contact and non-essential travel
- New advice to avoid pubs, restaurants and theatres
- Schools will currently remain open however this is being kept under constant review.
- staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
- if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
To support the delay of the spread of the virus, the Department for Health and Social Care has asked anyone who shows certain symptoms to stay at home for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means people should stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection.
The symptoms are:
- A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
- A new, continuous cough
You do not need to call NHS 111 to stay at home. If your symptoms worsen during your stay at home period or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
COVID-19 travel guidance for the education sector
The Government has issued new travel guidance for the education sector. This advises against all overseas education trips for children under 18. This does not apply to domestic trips, or overseas trips which are already underway.
The full guidance can be found here:
The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.
Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools:
Department for Education coronavirus helpline
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)
Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends.
If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.
Where to find the latest information
Updates on COVID-19:
Guidance for educational settings:
Guidance for social or community care and residential settings:
Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:
Latest Department for Education information: