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23/03 UPDATE: Coronavirus: Advice for schools and further education providers

Mar 23

Update: 23/03/20

Information to cascade to parents and carers

From Friday 20 March schools, childcare and other educational settings are closed for everyone except:

  • children of critical workers
  • vulnerable children

We have published guidance for parents and carers:

Critical workers

If parents’ work is critical to the coronavirus response, their children will be prioritised for early years and education provision.

The Government has published a list of critical workers:

Please cascade the above information to parents and carers where possible.

Attendance reporting for educational settings to start from Monday 23 March

From Monday 23 March, educational settings should complete a short form to notify the Department for Education about their status regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).

The form will ask you to confirm whether your setting is open and, if so, provide information about numbers of pupils and staff attending. It will take you less than 2 minutes to complete. You should submit it by noon of each weekday.

Your data will help us build a national picture of educational provision so that we can focus support more effectively. It will also help the Government monitor the impact of the virus.

You will need a ‘DfE sign-in’ account to access the form. We are writing separately to DfE Sign-in approvers in all education settings to help you with this.

We will send more information about recording attendance and completing the form tomorrow.

Further details on exams and grades announced

New details regarding the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on summer exams has been released.

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer, following our actions to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible.

Find details on the impact on summer exams here:

More information will be provided as soon as possible.

Funding to support schools

To ensure schools can continue to pay their staff and meet other financial commitments, schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure.

We will put in place a new process that allows us to reimburse schools for exceptional costs that they face as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Details of the scheme will be published in the coming days.

Update: 20/03/20

 

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, has asked for this message to be passed to all those who work in the education sector

The government recognises the huge importance of the role you have played in maintaining the education, training and social care of our children and young people during this challenging time. I recognise that you will have the same anxieties as the rest of the country about your health and that of your families. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire government, I thank you all for all of your work so far, and your continued support. I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.

Next steps

It is clear that education and children’s social care settings are increasingly finding it difficult to continue as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance. To provide parents, student and staff with the certainty they need we are announcing that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.

Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.

A full list of key worker categories will be published by the Cabinet Office tomorrow.

Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.

Where schools are unable to provide this reduced provision, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available.

We are expecting early years providers and sixth form and further education colleges to do the same. We are working with Her Majesty’s Treasury on the financial support required. We are also asking that independent schools and boarding schools follow the same approach.

Where possible, we would encourage settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.

Many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe and where possible keep providing education. We are confident vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the Department for Education continues to support them in doing so.

Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections

Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.

Update on assessments and examinations

We can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams, and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.

We will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications they need.

My Department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years, schools and head teachers, regional school commissioners and bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.

And we will do whatever is necessary to support local authorities, settings, schools and teachers through the weeks and months ahead.

Free school meal provision

We will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals. Some schools are already doing this, and we will reimburse the costs. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system. 

Thank you once again for everything you are doing at this difficult time.

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

Secretary of State for Education

Update 19/03/20

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, has asked for this message to be passed to all those who work in the education sector

The government recognises the huge importance of the role you have played in maintaining the education, training and social care of our children and young people during this challenging time. I recognise that you will have the same anxieties as the rest of the country about your health and that of your families. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire government, I thank you all for all of your work so far, and your continued support. I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.

Next steps

It is clear that education and children’s social care settings are increasingly finding it difficult to continue as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance. To provide parents, student and staff with the certainty they need we are announcing that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.

Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.

A full list of key worker categories will be published by the Cabinet Office tomorrow.

Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.

Where schools are unable to provide this reduced provision, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available.

We are expecting early years providers and sixth form and further education colleges to do the same. We are working with Her Majesty’s Treasury on the financial support required. We are also asking that independent schools and boarding schools follow the same approach.

Where possible, we would encourage settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.

Many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe and where possible keep providing education. We are confident vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the Department for Education continues to support them in doing so.

Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections

Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.

Update on assessments and examinations

We can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams, and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.

We will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications they need.

My Department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years, schools and head teachers, regional school commissioners and bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.

And we will do whatever is necessary to support local authorities, settings, schools and teachers through the weeks and months ahead.

Free school meal provision

We will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals. Some schools are already doing this, and we will reimburse the costs. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system. 

Thank you once again for everything you are doing at this difficult time.

The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

Secretary of State for Education

Update: 18/03/20

his is your daily email to keep you updated on the government’s response to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

New guidance for households with symptoms

Yesterday, the Government introduced new guidance on whole household isolation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
  • if you live with others and you or another member of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.

The symptoms are:

  • A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
  • A new, continuous cough

The full stay at home guidance for households with these symptoms can be found here:

The Prime Minister’s statement from Monday 16 March can be found here:

Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections

Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.

The current medical and scientific advice is for schools and other educational establishments to stay open. If this changes and the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser say closing schools, colleges, and early years settings is in the best interests of children and teachers the Department will take that step.

The full announcement made by Gavin Williamson can be viewed here:

Updated guidance on recording school pupil absences

No school will be penalised for the impact on school attendance of coronavirus (COVID-19). Please record absences as follows:

  • Where a pupil cannot attend school due to illness, as would normally happen, the pupil should be recorded as absent in the attendance register and the school will authorise the absence. Code I (Illness) should be used in this instance.
  • Where a pupil is in self-isolation, in accordance with latest information and advice from Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, the pupil should be recorded as unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances in the attendance register. Code Y (Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances) should be used in this instance.
  • Where a pupil does not attend school and is not self-isolating, the pupil will be marked as absent. We back headteachers’ judgement and to be pragmatic – having spoken to parents – on whether to authorise such absence, taking into account individual circumstances. We expect, in particular, headteachers will authorise absence where a pupil is not able to attend because of an underlying health condition that means they, or a family member in their household, are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Handwashing advice

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.

Watch this short NHS film for guidance:

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls. We appreciate your patience at this time and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible, we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends and are increasing the number of call handlers available to answer your calls.

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.

Where to find the latest information

Update 16/03/20

 
 

Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Today, the Department for Education and Public Health England have issued updated guidance for education settings on COVID-19. This guidance will assist staff in addressing COVID-19 in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.

What you need to know:

  • staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
  • if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
  • clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
  • supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues

The updated guidance can be found here:

Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.

The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.

Recording school pupil absences

Where a pupil is in self-isolation, in accordance with latest information and advice from Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, the pupil should be recorded as unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances in the attendance register. Code Y (Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances) should be used in this instance.

If a pupil does not attend school, despite the school operating as usual and the pupil is not self-isolating, they should be marked as absent. It is for headteachers to determine whether or not the absence is authorised depending on the individual circumstances.

Where a pupil cannot attend school due to illness, as normally would happen, the pupil should be recorded as absent in the attendance register and the school will authorise the absence. Code I (Illness) should be used in this instance.

Handwashing advice

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.

Watch this short NHS film for guidance:

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls. We appreciate your patience at this time and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends.

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.

Where to find the latest information

Updates on COVID-19:

Guidance for educational settings:

Guidance for social or community care and residential settings:

Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:

Educational resources:

Latest Department for Education information:

Please keep your GIAS school contacts up to date

If you work in a school, please take this opportunity to review your contact information in Get Information About Schools (GIAS).

To update your record, please go to the GIAS home page, “Sign in” using your “DfE Sign-in” credentials and select GIAS from your available services here:

 

Update 13/03/20

Government announces move from Contain to Delay phase

Yesterday, the Government announced that we are moving from the Contain phase of the coronavirus action plan and into the Delay phase, in response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Full details of each stage in the government action plan can be found here:

To support the delay of the spread of the virus, the Department for Health and Social Care has asked anyone who shows certain symptoms to stay at home for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means people should stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms, to slow the spread of infection.

The symptoms are:

  • A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
  • A new, continuous cough

You do not need to call NHS 111 to stay at home. If your symptoms worsen during your stay at home period or are no better after 7 days contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.

The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce will be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to schools will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.

COVID-19 travel guidance for the education sector

The Government has issued new travel guidance for the education sector. This advises against all overseas education trips for children under 18. This does not apply to domestic trips, or overseas trips which are already underway.

The full guidance can be found here:

Handwashing advice

The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.

Watch this short NHS film for guidance:

Educational resources

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools:

Parents/Carers We wish to reassure you that we are continually topping up the many soap dispensers around the school. There is therefore, no need for you to call to alert us if some are empty.​

GOVERNMENT CORONAVIRUS ACTION PLAN

The government coronavirus action plan sets out what the UK has done to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), and what we plan to do next.

The situation is constantly reviewed and action informed by expert science and advice, guided by the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientific Adviser.

The action plan can be found here:

ACTION PLAN RECAP

The action plan sets out a four-phased approach in response to coronavirus – Contain, Delay, Mitigate, and Research, based on the latest scientific evidence.

The current emphasis is on the Contain and Research phases, however planning for Delay and Mitigation is already in train.

As part of the Contain phase, we have been providing advice to educational settings in England. We also launched a DfE helpline to manage the flow of increasing queries, from providers parents and young people.

HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS PROPERLY

Wash your hands more often for 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
Watch this short NHS film for guidance:

Teach young children how to wash their hands with the NHS handwashing song:

Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.

Update 11 March:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

As of 10 March, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated advice about travel to Italy. The FCO is currently advising:

  • against all but essential travel to Italy
  • against all travel to Hubei Province, in China
  • against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China
  • against all travel to the cities of Daegu, Cheongdo and Gyeongsan in South Korea

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not currently advising against travel to any other country/territory as a result of COVID-19.

The latest travel advice can be found here:

Government coronavirus action plan

Yesterday, the Prime Minister confirmed that the government’s response to COVID-19 remains in the Contain phase – the first phase in the government’s coronavirus action plan.

The coronavirus action plan was launched last week. This document sets out what we have done to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), and what it plans to do next, depending upon the course the current coronavirus outbreak takes.

The action plan can be found here:

Advice from Public Health England continues to be for education and children’s social care settings to remain open, unless advised otherwise. We are continually reviewing how best to support all educational settings and the impact of any measures will be considered carefully before being implemented.

Updated travel advice for travellers returning from Italy

Yesterday, Public Health England updated their travel advice, recommending that anyone returning from Italy should self-isolate, even if you do not have any symptoms. If you do develop symptoms, call NHS 111.

The latest travel guidance can be found here:

Further information on what you should do if you are asked to self-isolate can be found here:

Update: 09 March

Exam preparation and Ofqual advice

We recognise that students, parents, schools and colleges will be concerned about the possible impact of coronavirus on the 2020 summer exam series. Ofqual’s advice at this time is to continue to prepare for exams and other assessments as normal.

Ofqual continues to work closely with exam boards, other regulators and the Department for Education to plan for a range of scenarios, as the public would expect. Our overriding priorities are fairness to students this summer and keeping disruption to a minimum.

It is still many weeks until exams start and we will issue updated advice if necessary, giving schools and colleges as much notice as possible.

The latest updates from Ofqual can be found here:

.

The importance of hygiene

Personal hygiene is the most important way we can tackle COVID-19, especially washing hands more; and the catch it, bin it, kill it strategy for those with coughs and sneezes.

Wash your hands more often for 20 seconds with soap and hot water.

In addition to handwashing before eating and after sneezing, both children and staff should also wash hands after using toilets and after travelling on public transport.

Please help us in sharing simple and effective hand hygiene messages:

Public Health England has a dedicated webpage with a range of posters and digital materials at:

Sign up is quick, free and means you will be alerted as more resources are made available.

Educational resources

The e-Bug project is led by Public Health England and has a dedicated webpage for learning resources on hand washing and respiratory hygiene.

Resources are currently available for KS1, KS2 and KS3 and can be used in various settings including schools:

Updated travel advice for travellers returning from Italy

The advice remains the same for travellers returning from the lockdown areas of Italy, that you should self-isolate even if you are not showing symptoms. The advice for other parts of Italy has been expanded to cover the whole country: if you have returned from anywhere else in Italy outside of the lockdown areas, you should self-isolate if you develop symptoms and call NHS 111.

The latest travel guidance can be found here:

Further information on what you should do if you are asked to self-isolate can be found here:

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is now available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Where to find the latest information

Updates on COVID-19:

Guidance for educational settings:

Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:

Latest Department for Education information:

Update: 06 March

This is your daily email to keep you updated on the government’s response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Government Coronavirus action plan

On Tuesday, the Coronavirus action plan was launched. This document sets out what the UK as a whole has done to tackle the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and what it plans to do next.

The action plan can be found here:

Action plan overview

The action plan sets out a four phased approach in response to the Coronavirus – Contain, Delay, Mitigate, and Research. An approach designed by world leading experts.

As there are already cases in the UK, the current emphasis is on the Contain and Research phases, but planning for Delay and Mitigation is already in train.

As part of the Contain phase, we have been providing advice about educational settings in England, which can be found on Public Health England’s website. We also launched a DfE helpline to manage the flow of increasing queries, from providers parents and young people.

Personal hygiene is the most important way we can tackle COVID-19, especially washing hands more; and the catch it, bin it, kill it strategy for those with coughs and sneezes – also help in delaying the peak of the infection.

The action plan is a framework that outlines the types of options open to government in each of these four phases. But this document is only a list of the types of measures we could consider – not those we are planning to implement.

Current advice remains in place: No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.

The importance of hygiene

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Social Care launched a public information campaign that focuses on the importance of handwashing. Washing hands for 20 seconds is central to prevent and slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/public-information-campaign-focuses-on-handwashing

Department for Education Coronavirus helpline

On Monday we launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687
Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Where to find the latest information

Updates on COVID-19:

Guidance for educational settings:

Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:

Latest Department for Education information:

Corona2

 
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