Arrangements for Critical Workers and Vulnerable Children
The government have now published their guidance on Critical Workers and Vulnerable Children. I appreciate many of you have been anxiously waiting for us to send further information of how we will provide for both groups and I have outlined details in this letter.
The government has stated that:
- Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
- This is an offer to parents and carers who are critical workers and parents and carers of vulnerable children but there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.
- For vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.
We are committed to St Mark’s premises remaining open to support and care for children who meet the Vulnerable Children criteria and for those children of Critical Workers who have no choice but to send their child/children to school so that they can go to work in order to continue to offer critical services as part of the country’s ongoing response to the virus.
However, we are also conscious that we are being asked to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to and I would ask that you consider your child care needs very carefully before sending your child to school. We all need to be very responsible in ensuring we do not spread the virus and that our teachers and support staff remain well to be able to provide this service as well as protect their own families. At St Mark’s we already have a number of teachers and support staff self-isolating currently for a two week period or for the duration of the school closure. From Monday, children will be educated and cared for in mixed-age year groups.
At St Mark’s we will only be able to provide this service whilst staff numbers allow. For this reason, we ask that you only book your child / children into the school provision on the days that you are actually working in your critical role. If you have worked a night shift, I understand that you may require the provision for the next morning or day. As you will see from the form, you can book your child in for morning or afternoon sessions or a whole day or days. Any combination will be catered for. Should we find that we do not have enough staff who can attend, due to illness and self-isolation, then we will be forced to close until such a time that we have enough staff available to safely open again. If we have no option but to close, we will work with the Local Authority and Bath and Wells Multi Academy Trust to signpost parents in need to an alternative provision.
If parents believe they fall within the critical categories above 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.
There is a document called “Closure of Educational Settings: Information for Parents and Carers” and this can be accessed by following the link below:
Closure of Educational Settings: Information for Parents and Carers
In this document you will find the criteria for identifying yourself as a Critical Worker. I have also provided an overview at the end of this letter.
To clarify, only one parent is required to be a Critical Worker for your child to qualify for a place. However, the Government guidance clearly states for this group of children, if it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be. If children can be looked after by a parent who is not a critical worker then please do so for the reasons detailed previously.
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. Children who have a social worker include children in need, children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority.
If your child is eligible for school provision in the coming weeks, it would really help us if you could complete and return to school the attached form by 3.30pm today (Friday 20th March 2020) so that staff can plan effectively for Monday. The form can be downloaded from the school website under the Coronavirus section or collected from the school office during the school day. Going forwards there will be an attendance form to be completed each week.
If your child meets the criteria and are in school and you would like for your child to have a place at Breakfast club, then please come to the main hall via the KS2 playground from 7.30am on Monday and book your child a place. Attendance is £3.50 per session payable in advance either via cash or Parent Pay.
We will notify you as soon as possible as to whether or not we will provide a service over the Easter Holidays. An additional letter regarding important arrangements will be available on the school website for parents whose children will be attending some or all of the sessions from Monday 23rd March.
We are aware that the situation, and related guidance, is changing all of the time. We will continue to update you of any changes and developments as they occur.
Thank you for your continued and considered support.
Criteria for Critical Workers
One parent needs to identify as a Critical Worker for your child to qualify for a place in school during the closure period.
If you think you fall within the critical categories below you should confirm with your employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, your specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
Parents who are not in one of the Critical Worker groups below are not entitled to a school place and will be expected to keep their children at home.
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. 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, therefore, follow these 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.
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
There are 8 categories of Critical Worker, as detailed below:
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.