The situation the world now finds itself in is unprecedented. Schools have been fighting against the odds to keep open. As you are probably aware, yesterday evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that all UK schools will close indefinitely by the end of tomorrow to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. The measures apply to all schools, nurseries and sixth-form colleges. Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs: “After schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon they will remain closed until further notice”.
He also stated that some schools will remain open to the children of key workers and to vulnerable children, with staff and pupils potentially working or attending schools other than their own. The Dover Federation for the Arts Multi Academy Trust has taken the decision to close two of our schools, and Astor College and White Cliffs Primary College for the Arts will remain open for the time being. What is no longer expected is that schools continue with educating their pupils, but instead, will act as childcare for the children of key workers and “vulnerable pupils”. Wrap around care such as breakfast and after school club will not be going ahead.
The Cabinet Office is due to publish a full list of key workers later today, and once we know this, we will send out further communication. It is important to note that the service that the schools are providing is to ensure that these key workers can continue to carry out their jobs to keep the country running. It is not for children to go and meet friends and socialise as this would defeat the point of social distancing, increasing the spread of the disease.
If you are a key worker, and do not have anyone else within your household who can look after your child, then please contact the school to confirm that you wish to register for your child to attend. DfE guidance states that unless both parents are key workers, the expectation is that the other parent is to look after their child(ren).
Attendance can be flexible on days to fit in with shift patterns. You will need to provide evidence of your employment (such as ID badge, pay slip, employment contract, etc).
Vulnerable pupils have been defined as those who either have a social worker, or an education, health and care plan (EHCP). If your child has either of these, they will be entitled to come into school for childcare. For these parents, this is optional, and you do not have to take up this service. If you do not advise the school that you wish to take up this service, then the assumption will be that your child is remaining at home with you. If your decision is to send your child into school, they will be expected to stay for the normal school hours, every day, and it is only available to the specific child and does not include siblings.
We understand how concerning and unsettling this all is, and we will try to make this as easy as is possible in these uncertain times.
Dover Federation for the Arts MAT