• Maggie Owolade

COVID 19: ADVICE ON RETURNING TO SCHOOL

Updated: Jul 22

On 20th May guidance on opening schools and educational settings to more pupils from 1st June: guidance for parents and carers was published. This week the DfE issued this newsflash on the impact of return to school plans on children with SEND:

'On 10 May, the Prime Minister announced that, subject to the government’s five key tests being met at the time, schools, colleges and early years settings, will be opening to more children and young people, from 1st June, starting with nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 alongside the priority groups already at school (vulnerable children and children of critical workers). Nurseries and other early years providers have also been asked to begin welcoming back all children. From 15 June 2020 at the earliest, secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges are asked to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full-time provision they are offering to priority groups.

Alternative provision settings should mirror the approach being taken for mainstream schools and also offer some face-to-face support for years 10 and 11 students (as they have no year 12). Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools will work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups. For special schools and hospital schools this applies from 1 June; for special post-16 institutions this applies from 15 June.

New guidance on how this applies to children and young people with SEND has been published and can be found at: Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening

Children and young people with SEND in mainstream and Alternative Provision settings who have not been attending and are in eligible year groups should experience the same return to their settings as their peers, informed by their individual circumstances and risk assessments.

Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools should work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can be safely catered for in their setting, based on the child or young person’s risk assessment but not using their year group as a primary deciding factor

  • In both mainstream and special settings: Children and young people with EHC plans who are already attending their education setting, because they have been risk assessed as safe or safer in school/college, should continue to attend after 1 June, whatever year group they are in.

  • Educational settings and local authorities should keep risk assessments up to date, to ensure they are able to offer places to pupils and students, whatever year group they are in, where appropriate. Children and young people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding, or who live in a household with somebody this applies to, will not be expected to attend in person.

This guidance should be read alongside: · Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 and actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak, which sets out the overarching aims and principles of wider opening and the next steps for education and childcare providers. · Guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings. · Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care – guidance about preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE in education, childcare and children’s social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak. · Guidance on isolation in residential educational settings. · Guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak. · Guidance on the changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due tocoronavirus.

We are grateful to all those in the SEND sector for continuing to care for, teach and support vulnerable children and young people in these difficult times. We will continue to work with you to provide the best possible care, learning and support for children and young people with SEND, and the staff and families who support them.'

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