Coronavirus update 8 – Key workers and other information

Dear Parents/Carers

The pandemic  is spreading fast across the country, with many new cases and sadly deaths every day. Contact with people spreads it, that is the basic truth. We need to remember that the advice on containing the virus is to minimise/reduce/stop social contact and people going out. This involves children and staff in schools too. This is why the schools are officially closing at the end of the day on Friday 20th March. To have children coming into school, having contact with others who may be infected and then sending them home where they may infect family members and other vulnerable people is not going to work or be helpful in ending this pandemic. 

The Government have said we have to be open for children of key workers. We know everyone may see their role as key, but we have to be strict on what a key worker is. We have been waiting all day for the information about key workers. I know you are all feeling apprehensive about yesterday’s news and particularly that about key workers, but still the Government and the Local Authority have not provided this and it may not be until late tonight or tomorrow.

Evidently, this does not help us or parents. To make this manageable and to help stop the spread of the virus, the numbers must be as small as possible. 

We believe it may say that in a two parent/adult household, both parents should be key workers and both must be in work. Step parents would count in this family unit. If it is a single adult household then that adult would have to be a key worker. It would not be fair if in a two adult household, one parent was a key worker, and the other parent did not work or had a key worker role, and they were able to send a child in, raising the risk of infection for all in the building and also potentially meaning some frontline NHS staff could be infected and unable to look after our loved ones. 

Therefore we will be asking for information for those who think they are key workers once the list is released.  We are working on if this will be via a google form or other means, but we expect if everyone is honest and thoughtful about those who will need to be in, tat numbers will be small. We will ask for this tomorrow, and we will check on our records of employment and contacts to verify information. We would also ask for proof, such as a work ID card that all NHS staff would have. Please respect our staff in this, as we still continue to be abused by adults who should know better if we ask parents to collect a child as they display symptoms. We will be sticking strictly to the list provided.

What is a key worker?

The government said yesterday that key workers will include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers, that deliver food and supplies (not all delivery drivers). We are awaiting further clarity on the definition and will update you as this becomes available.

Norfolk County Council have shared this information with us.

“We have not yet received the guidance from the DfE about key workers. We aim to send letters for parents of vulnerable children and all other parents tomorrow alongside lists of children in the vulnerable category”.

What we know:

What is a vulnerable child?

The government describes vulnerable children as those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans. The council is working closely with schools and partners to safeguard all children during this difficult time. Children with EHCPs often have additional medical needs which makes them on the vulnerable list who should avoid social contact and therefore you may wish to consider what is best for the safety and wellbeing of your child. Although all children with an EHCP qualify to come in in a school closure, this is in no way compulsory and if your child has an EHCP (not being assessed or considered) then please let us know your preferences in this time. Please note the rues on isolation apply even in this time eg if your child or anyone in your household displays symptoms, they will not be allowed in and will have to self isolate. The EHCP regulations will only apply to the actual child with the EHCP and not to any brothers or sisters.

Only these children qualify for school care during closure. We will not be able to provide any formal education, this will most likely be care and the home learning tasks as we have no idea how many staff will be available due to their own illness, vulnerability factors or self isolation due to family being unwell.

Therefore, unless both parents in a two adult household have one of these professions

  • NHS Staff
  • Police
  • Delivery driver (most likely for supermarket or supplying supermarkets)
  • Teachers/TAs may be on this list but this is not yet clear

OR
A child has a full EHCP plan

OR
A child is on a Child Protection Plan/has an allocated social worker

You should generally assume at this point in time that your child will finish school at the end of the day tomorrow and will not be in school until the Government reopens them.

We would ask if your child is eligible that you only send them if you absolutely need to, eg if your shift covers the school day. 

We appreciate this is a very challenging time for parents who need to work, but the schools are closing for a reason dictated by the Government and Health officials and we need to work together to minimise social contact and unnecessary social mixing. 

In the morning we will let you know how best to inform us if you meet one of the criteria above, so please do not ring or email to tell us or answer questions as we are all working tirelessly with the information we have. Things may change on a daily basis and the list may be wider but we want you to know so you can make plans

Please note also that Infant age children will need to bring their own lunch if they are in next week, unless they qualify for FSM. There may be an option to pay for meals but we do not know. At Juniors we do have a way to pay so this may be possible. 

HOOTS will also have to operate under these rules so your child can only attend breakfast or after school club next week if your child is eligible to attend school. This will be the same for the Easter holiday club we believe. Only those eligible under those criteria. More on this nearer the time as we find out more. It may be HOOTS cannot operate at all, we have been given no guidance, so please be patient with us. 

With very best wishes. Be kind and look after each other. 

Joanna Pedlow