Information regarding Emergency Child Care provision from Monday 23rd March 2020
Dear parents and carers
Today our school is closing. From Monday the government has stated the following:
· If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
· Schools as they normally run are closed.
· Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
· 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.
Please let us assure you that we will do all that we can to support our families and community at this uncertain and extremely challenging time. Those families who are entitled to Free School Meals (including universal free school meals) will be able to collect a packed lunch for their child from School on Monday from 11:30 onwards.
Responding to the virus is a constantly changing situation. As headteacher it is up to me to interpret and apply the government guidance in a way which I feel best meets the needs of our school and community. This sometimes means disappointing people and in this situation, I am sure some people will not like the decisions I will make. However, ultimately it is my responsibility to create an organised and calm situation for emergency child care to support those Key Workers where it is absolutely impossible for their child to be at home without impacting on essential front-line services.
From Monday for a small number of children and families, there will be a different (non educational) provision moving forwards. The school can only open if it is safe to do so. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease, minimise the risk for staff and keep this emergency provision open for as long as possible. The continuation of this service will be dependent upon our staffing levels, of which, we will keep you updated on a regular basis. Should the school have to close you should contact the local authority to signpost you to an alternative school.
We have made separate provision for vulnerable pupils to fulfil our statutory duties for these pupils during the school closure period. Families have been personally informed and given the choice as to whether to keep their child safe at home or access the provision.
I want to take this opportunity to thank staff, who despite serious medical concerns for themselves, partners or family members have continued to come into work to try and keep education and normality for the children going as long as we physically can until the enforced government closure this evening.
The planned emergency child-care strategy and procedures we put in place will develop over next week as demand and available provision becomes clearer and again may well change with very short notice. Schools and parents will have to adapt and respond to this, so communication is critical; as is total compliance, transparency, honesty and a thought for others including the staff trying to run this provision.
Our strategy for responding to this change in provision is as follows:
1. Government guidance is very, very clear. ALL children must remain at home for their safety and to reduce the transmission of the COVID 19 unless absolutely necessary. This applies to all children, regardless of their parents’ occupation.
2. Balliol Primary School and the national education system will close today and this enforced closure will remain in place until the order is lifted by the government.
3. We have been asked to facilitate emergency child care, deploying only a ‘skeleton staff’ for the children of Key Workers (as now defined by the government) where it is critical for the continued delivery of front line services, that they access this emergency provision. I would ask parents to read and consider this statement VERY, VERY carefully. Just because your occupation is listed on a government website, does not mean that you should or have to send your child into school when they would be far safer staying at home. Parents need to act responsibly and consider others and the impact on wider society of accessing this limited childcare when they do not absolutely have to.
4. Parents working from home will not be able to access emergency childcare provision.
5. Parents who meet the criteria as a Key Worker MUST apply for a place by completing an application form and sending it via email to the school office email@example.com We are initially asking for you to indicate the days and sessions you anticipate using the emergency child-care next week but fully appreciate that this can change at short notice for you as well.
6. Details of both parent/carers occupations must be given to determine priority if we reach a limited provision situation. Our strategy is to prioritise children where BOTH parents are Key Workers and have to work simultaneously rather than share childcare first. We will then assess availability for provision where ONE parent is a Key worker and there is compelling evidence in the application that the second parent/carer/family member cannot safely look after the child at home.
7. This is a real national crisis and access to this provision should be viewed as a serious, emergency step. All of our lives may come to depend upon it so it MUST NOT be abused.
8. We will assess all the applications and parents securing a place will be informed by email. ONLY children, where parents have been sent a confirmatory email, will be admitted to school next week, starting with absolute priority children on Monday. If you do not receive a confirmation email you will need to make alternative childcare arrangements for Monday.
Please remember wherever possible your child should remain at home.
As the situation develops, we will be able to assess capacity and hopefully increase provision to meet essential demand but at this point in time I cannot promise parents’ anything other than we will do our absolute best to meet critical demand.
Thanking you in anticipation of your support at this challenging time.
Mrs Judith Driver
Please contact the office for an application form via email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply