This morning (20th March 2020), the Government announced further guidance on school closures, how they will be managed and who will be affected. The announcement clearly states that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be and outlined five key principles:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
When the Prime Minister announced school and nursery closures, he said that children of “key workers” would still be allowed to attend school. Today’s announcement gives details of those sectors. Broadly, these are:
- Health and Social Care
- Education and Childcare
- Key Public Services (including charities delivering front line services)
- Local and National Government
- Food and other necessary jobs
- Public safety and national security
- Utilities, communication and financial services
Click the link for the full announcement and full list of sectors / jobs https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
If workers think they fall within the critical categories 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. Some schools will have to close and if that is the case, local authorities will seek to redirect those affected and they will be redirected to a local school in the area that the child / children can attend.
As ever, we are here to provide support and guidance on all HR and people management issues. We have a contingency plan in place so that service levels can be maintained via remote working and digital connection should the situation escalate.
If you have any specific questions or challenges please contact us.