Good morning,

Access to school next week

Overnight the government has published guidance on access to schools for vulnerable students and children of critical workers.  This guidance clarifies the expectations of parents/carers and schools and can be found on the government websites here and here.  

The guidance states that "...the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend."

The key principles stated in the guidance are

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. 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.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

Please check the definitive list of critical workers in the guidance, but, it includes workers in 

  • Heath and Social Care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services
  • Local and national government
  • Food and other necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security
  • Transport
  • Utilities, communication and financial services

Vulnerable children are defined as  "children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans."

It is important to bear in mind the principle that "If it is at all possible for children to be at home then they should be", but Walton-le-Dale will be open to vulnerable children and those whose parents are critical workers, if they cannot be at home.  

Students who come in will be supervised working independently in our computer rooms in A Block on the online learning that is being emailed to them by their teachers.  Other areas of the school will not be accessible to them due to deep cleaning. 

We will aim to run a bus from Preston and a bus from Blackburn, subject to demand, and students will need to show their bus pass.  Students will not need to be in uniform.  We will make provision for a limited range of food to be available at lunchtime or students can bring their own.  Students may not leave the school site - they will be registered in the normal way and will be with us for the school day unless parents/carers come and collect them. 

If your child is eligible to access school next week and you need them to do so, please would you let us know, via Schoolcomms preferably, but by phone or direct email otherwise by 12 noon today (Friday) so that we can allocate appropriate staffing (subject to staff absence) and notify the bus company.  Critical workers please state your area of work.  We will then send out details of bus routes over the weekend.  I apologise for the swift turnaround needed, but the government did not issue the guidance until nearly midnight last night!  

We have already had detailed discussions yesterday with some parents & carers of vulnerable students - those parents/carers do not need to contact us again unless you wish to change your mind about accessing our provision.  If you have already given your details over the last couple of days as a critical worker, for which many thanks, then you do need to contact us again to say if you need your child to come into school next week, because they cannot be at home.     

Apologies for the length and complexity of this message, but it is important that we make appropriate provision for next week given the ongoing situation with the current pandemic.

Best wishes to you and all those who you care for,

James Harris

Headteacher