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COVID-19 advice 19/03/2020 for settings

Sent on behalf of Paula Worthington


Dear colleagues
I am writing to provide you with further information about Warrington Borough Council's plans following on from the announcement yesterday that the majority of pupils will stop attending school after they close on Friday afternoon in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The purpose of schools remaining open is in line with the comments yesterday - to provide a safe place for vulnerable pupils and to ensure that key workers can continue to attend work so that vital services can operate.
You are as aware as we are that guidance from the Government is fluid and we are all being asked to use our distributed leadership and initiative in these challenging times.


1.            What happens if there is not enough staff to open school?


We are working with school leaders on developing a hub and spoke approach across the localities and further information will follow about this shortly.


If you are part of a local arrangement to share buildings or other resources please inform Louise Corlett - lcorlett@warrington.gov.uk  - at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime, school leaders will be asked to complete a short survey about how many staff are:


•             in work;
•             self-isolating;
•             fall under the self-isolating vulnerable groups category.
Headteachers need to consider the minimum staffing requirements to continue its operation safely (which will be considerably different from a snow day calculation). Please remember to include your kitchen staff in this calculation.


It is our understanding that the designated safeguarding lead is required to be in attendance at school - if this is not possible then a deputy should be identified to provide cover. Safeguarding procedures and phone numbers should be made available to all staff.
2.            Will Free School Meals still be provided?


Gavin Williamson has said that schools can offer vouchers to families who qualify for Free School Meals.  We expect central government to provide more information about this scheme later today. However, schools should make the necessary arrangements to purchase food vouchers and offer these from Monday onwards. We expect schools to be fully reimbursed by central government. The ideal is that you continue to provide a meal to children. If staff sickness or availability of food precludes this, please order food vouchers. In Early Help, we have purchased shopping and food bank vouchers and can get these to you in an emergency (they are also available for families from our Children’s Centres).
3.            Will the school kitchens still operate?


The kitchens will remain open (staff permitting) for the pupils required to continue attending. However, a reduced menu or packed lunches will be offered depending on the circumstances within each school.
4.            Should teachers continue to follow the national curriculum?


The purpose of schools remaining open is to safeguard our most vulnerable pupils and to ensure that key workers can continue to perform essential roles needed throughout this challenging period. As a result, schools do not need to be delivering the national curriculum and should plan on organising engaging activities. See attached document.
5.            What if vulnerable pupils do not come into school?


Each school should continue to operate their current attendance policy for vulnerable groups and children of key workers. If pupils do not come into school please check that the pupil is safe and has access to food - you are free to use your discretion about how to use food vouchers. Children's centres and food banks will continue to provide support to families struggling. If they are any concerns about children's welfare contact the MASH on 01925 443322 (in hours) 01925 444400 (out of hours).

A teleconference is being organised for today with the CEX of the MATs in Warrington and the chairs WAPH, WASCL and WASH to discuss the emerging situation.

Further information and guidance will follow from central government for all education settings later today.

20 Mar 2020

Paula Worthington
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