Schools and families


Introduction

Information about coronavirus is available in different languages and formats:

Register as a critical worker

The government has defined occupations that are classified as critical workers. It is important to stress that every child who can stay at home absolutely must, and many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please consider the following:

  • Check if you fall into any of the listed occupations and are classified as a critical worker
  • 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. You will already have been contacted regarding this
  • 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 for adults.
  • Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible

Once you have considered the points above, and if you have not been able to inform your school directly, then please complete the form below:

Register as a critical worker

Note for schools: this will help to you give you an idea of the number of children who may be seeking provision from next week, and you may forward directly to parents if you have not already instigated your own system. The completed forms will be forwarded direct to your school from the school systems email address.

Easter 2020 school opening

For specific information on which schools are open over the Easter period, please visit our Easter 2020 school opening page. You can check if your school is closed completely on the current school closures page.

Closure of educational settings

Schools are now only providing places for vulnerable children and those of keyworkers. To support parents the DfE has provided the following information Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers

You can check if your school is closed completely on the current school closures page or for specific information on which schools are open over the Easter period, please visit our Easter 2020 school opening page.

Schools can update any closures by logging in directly.

View BBC Newsround’s video for children about coronavirus: why it might not be as scary as it sounds, and download and print information in easy read if you would like to inform and support someone that would prefer that format, for example, if they have a learning disability.

The government has said that free childcare offers to continue during coronavirus closures. 

Information for parents and carers about the closure of schools and other educational settings following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining education provision, including list of critical workers

Refer to the latest advice for schools and other educational settings, published jointly by Public Health England and Department for Education, including posters for use in schools.

What does this mean for schools and parents in Devon?

We are working closely with schools in Devon to ensure we are able to meet the priorities as set out by the government.

We have already taken the approach that for next week (w/c 23rd March) the majority of schools will remain open to provide a safe place for vulnerable children and those of critical workers.

Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children, those with education, health and care (EHC) plans and some others recognised as vulnerable by us (as the Local Authority) and the school.

Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings will continue to care for children wherever possible. Schools will continue to liaise with parents about these arrangements.

Where schools are unable to provide a place for Vulnerable children and those of keyworkers the school will inform parents of alternative arrangements for those children. The Local Authority will help co-ordinate this work but the school should be the first point of contact, as local arrangements with other schools are being put in place.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. The Department for Education advises that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be and they request we follow these key principles:

  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  • 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.

Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required.

A list of critical workers has been provided by the Department for Education.

Current transport arrangements will continue to be provided for children attending school this week and next week for currently entitled children from the above lists. These will, until after Easter follow current timetables wherever possible.

Families will be notified by individual schools or transport providers of any exceptions to the above.

We are currently working with schools to put in place arrangements to support children of critical workers over the holiday.  This information will be available on this website later in the week.

Information of any changes after Easter will be posted on our website and via schools later next week or over the holidays

Families are asked to look at individual school websites and their school’s usual communication methods for other local updates and information.

We are currently working with Early Years settings and special schools to try and ensure equitable provision

Early years providers will be given more information through the Early Years Digest.

The DfE has also provided easy to follow guidance to parents on this and a range of issues.

Free School Meals - Be aware of scam emails

The DfE have been informed that some parents have received an email stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’.

The DfE can confirm that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond, and delete it immediately

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

There is a helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.

Guidance for Early Years and Childcare Settings

Guidance for Local Authorities, early years settings and childminders about childcare provision (published 24.3.20)

See opening times for childminder services with listings on PinPoint Devon.

Text Messaging Service For Parents of young children

ChatHealth text messaging service

During these unsettling times, you may have health and wellbeing concerns about your baby or young child and be unsure how to get the help you need.

Our health visitors are still here to help – you can text them for confidential advice and support about a wide range of issues.

Parent/carers of babies and child(ren) under 5, can send a text to:

Tel: 07520631721

We can help with all kinds of things like:

  • Sleep
  • Feeding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Bottle feeding
  • Introducing solids
  • Toileting
  • Child health
  • Adjusting to parenting
  • Toddler behaviour

Your ChatHealth messaging service is run by Health Visitors in Public Health Nursing, Devon County Council and is available Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm.

We aim to reply to you within one working day and you should get an immediate bounce-back to confirm we received your text. Texts will not be seen outside of normal working hours. If you need help before you hear back from us, contact your GP, NHS 111 or dial 999 if it is an emergency.

The ChatHealth service is also available for young people (11-19) who may be worried about their health and wellbeing and be unsure about how to get the help they need.