Following updated advice from central government, Cambridgeshire County Council today contacted schools and early years settings across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to help clarify the national position on school closures, and to set out how they will continue to support parents and our most vulnerable children at a local level.
The message from government is clear: if it is possible for children to be at home safely then they should be. Parents should not rely on, or ask for, childcare to be provided by anyone who should be stringently social distancing, such as grandparents or anyone with an underlying health condition.
Children who are at home should also observe the same social distancing principles as adults, and not mix socially in a way that could spread the virus.
While the government is clear children should be kept at home where safe to do so, there will be some exceptions.
Schools will be asked to provide optional care for those children who are deemed to be vulnerable. This will include children who are:
- Supported by Social Care
- Children in Care – known as Looked After Children (LAC)
- Young carers
- Disabled children
- Or have an education, health and care plan (EHCP)
Children whose parents are ‘Key Workers’ – those whom the government deem critical to the Covid 19 response - will also be considered if they cannot be cared for at home. This will be the case if one or both parents are classed as key workers, and there is no means by which to keep the child at home, or in single parent families where the parent’s occupation falls within the list.
Jon Lewis, Service Director: Education – Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council commented: ”We absolutely understand that families are worried about being able to work, and that the current situation brings a lot of uncertainty. We have worked with schools and settings directly to ensure children have access to resources that will allow them to continue learning during this period, and we will keep the lines of communication open throughout.
“I want to thank parents and staff across our schools and early yea’s settings for the hard work and dedication they have shown over the last few weeks.
“The health, wellbeing and protection of our pupils, parents and staff remains our number one priority and we are taking these steps to minimise the risks to them.
“I would like to reiterate the Government’s message: where children can safely be at home, they should be. Therefore, I would ask that you don’t send your children to school from Monday onwards. Schools will be in touch with parents directly to identify the care and support available to the children of key workers or those considered vulnerable’.