Many schools in North Yorkshire will remain open on Monday to children of critical workers and those identified as vulnerable, to enable parents to continue in jobs which are vital in responding to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Today (Friday, March 20) the Government announced which jobs have been identified as critical roles in keeping society functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools – and wherever possible nurseries and early years settings – will remain open to provide childcare. Where schools cannot open, the schools, working with North Yorkshire County Council will be organising hubs with sufficient staffing and resources to provide care for children and young people in the area.
While schools remain safe places for children, the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals. Where parents can still work and keep their children safely at home, they should do so.
Parents in keyworker roles are also asked to;
- Only send children to school when you are actually working, not at other times.
- Do not send children to school if your partner is able to look after them.
- If you are a key worker and working from home, the default should be to keep children there, rather than send them to school (it is recognised some individuals may need to, depending on age and other issues relating to their children.)
Schools in the county will also remain open for parents of children who have been identified as vulnerable.
Private, voluntary and independent nurseries and child minders have been asked by the Government to remain open wherever possible to provide care for young children of critical workers. The County Council will continue to pay early years providers the Government funding for the summer term.
Schools which are open will continue to provide meals for pupils attending. For those children who qualify for free school meals, but are being looked after at home, local arrangements will be made.
Home-to-school transport will continue to operate on their existing routes to and from school.
Judith Kirk, Assistant Director of Education and Skills said: “We are currently working very hard in tandem with schools to ensure there are places in schools for those who need it, and also make sure those schools have sufficient staff, including cleaners and caterers, to remain open.
“We are obviously working in very challenging circumstances and, along with schools, doing our very best to keep schools open with the workforce available to us.
“If you work in a critical sector identified by the government, if your child needs specialist support, or is vulnerable, there will be a space for your child. But we do want to stress that if parents can keep their children at home, then we would ask that they do so, in order for us to keep schools open only for those children who need to attend.”
Parents are also asked not to rely on childcare from those in stringent social distancing categories such as grandparents, or friends or family members with underlying health conditions.
They are also asked to do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which could continue to spread the virus and observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
The critical sectors identified by the Government as key roles in the response to the COVID-19 outbreak include:
- Health and social care, including support and specialist staff, those working in the health and social care supply chain, as well as doctors, nurses, paramedics and care workers.
- Education and childcare, including support and teaching staff and social workers.
- Public sector, including those running the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering frontline services and journalists and broadcasters providing public service broadcasting.
- Local and national government, including administrative occupations responding to COVID-19 and those delivering essential public services.
- Food and other necessary goods. Those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of key goods.
- Public safety and national security. Including police, Ministry of Defence civilians, armed forces personnel, prison and probation staff, fire and rescue employees.
- Transport. Including those who keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport operating, including those working on transport systems which supply chains rely on.
- Utilities, communication and financial services. Including oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, IT, postal deliveries, call centre staff and waste disposal centres.