Covid-19 - frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions 

Questions Answers  
Attendance  
What attendance code should I use?

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).
  • Headteachers should use a consistent and proportional approach when recording absences where none of the above applies and parents have decided due to their concerns about Covid-19 to self-isolate their children without contact with NHS111 or the online tool.

Please refer to Department for Education guidance for further details.

 
Educational visits and off site activities  
School trips and activities Following the announcement by HM Government on 16th March 2020 about social distancing measures to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults schools should avoid non-essential use of public transport and consider avoiding large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces.   
First Aid  
First aid qualified staff Schools should try to maintain as far as possible at least one person who has a current paediatric first aid qualification and to be available at all times that children are present.   Likewise with staff with the appropriate qualifications across the school. If there is not an EYFS trained staff member schools will need to risk assess and share qualified staff across the school.  We anticipate that this is going to be an increasingly difficult challenge moving forward and we are seeking clarification. Our view at this time until we have further guidance is to do what you can to meet the school and EYFS first aid requirements.  
Health & Safety Executive Statement

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is aware that people holding Offshore Medic (OM), Offshore First Aid (OFA), First Aid at Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) certificates nearing expiry date, might experience disruption to access to requalification training as a result of events or circumstances generated by the coronavirus pandemic.

HSE’s current guidance on the Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 is that those holding an OM, OFA, FAW or EFAW qualification should undertake retraining before their original certificate expires and HSE strongly recommends that  employers, and individuals holding those qualifications should plan for requalification training well in advance of expiry dates.     
If however requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus or by complying with related government advice, it is reasonable and practical to extend the validity of current certificates by up to 3 months.  Anyone taking advantage of this extension should be able to describe clearly their reasons for delaying requalification training, and demonstrate steps they have taken to undertake the training, if required.

This guidance comes into effect for certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020. HSE will review this matter over the coming months and will issue further statements as necessary.

 
Free School Meals  
Guidance from DfE

Part of the DfE guidance stipulates that;

You should speak to your school catering team (in house), or school catering provider to see if they can prepare meals or food parcels that could be delivered to, or collected by families.
If you use a local authority catering service, you should check if they have a scheme for providing meals or food parcels to vulnerable groups affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you use a private catering provider, contact them to see what alternative arrangements are available.

As a local authority, we will want to be flexible to ensure that we maximise the reach of providing meals to pupils identified within the DFE Guidance. However, we also felt it would be helpful to our school leaders to say that in those schools where North Yorkshire is the meals provider, then:
 
If the school is open and there are children who are eligible for Free School Meals present, we will guarantee a meal and our aim is to provide those children with a hot meal.
 
If children are eligible for a free school meal but are unable to attend and the school is willing to co-ordinate the distribution of meals, we are prepared to provide a packed lunch.
 
If neither is options is suitable, we would recommend schools follow Government on guidance on the proposed voucher system.
 
If North Yorkshire is not your catering provider, then you will need to speak to your caterer about what options are available.

We will of course review this position and options during the course of next week.

 
Funding  
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.
DfE will put in place a new process that allows them 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.
 
Key Workers  
Are one or both parents required to be key workers?

Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school/early years provider “if required”. So it is only “at least one”. 

However, there are some principles that should apply to all Keyworkers/critical staff. They are:

  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  • Keyworkers must only send children to school/early years provider when they are actually on rota working for the employer, not at other times.
  • Keyworkers should not send them to school/early years provider if their partner, or similar, is able to look after them.
  • There is an expectation that if keyworkers are working from home the default should be to keep children there, rather than send them to school/early years providers. However, we accept some individuals may need to depending on age and other issues relating to children.
     
 
Meetings  
Governing body meetings

Following the announcement by HM Government on 16th March 2020 about social distancing measures to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults schools should to consider how they may manage governing body meetings by using remote technology such as phone, skype or video calls.      

School governance guidance from DfE              

 
Parent meetings and other gatherings Following the announcement by HM Government on 16th March 2020 about social distancing measures to help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults schools should consider avoiding large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces.                                     
Remote Learning  
If we do need to take further actions which will involve us asking pupils to undertake home learning, will we get guidance on who the key emergency workers are so that we can put extra plans in place for their children? Yes, this is being planned for and further details will be provided as they are required.  
School Transport  
What is the transport plan if we have to close? You should contact parents/carers to inform them of the decision to close and when this will occur, with a possible timescale. If this is during operational hours, you should ask parents or nominated person to come and collect their children. For schools who have transport provision, this will operate at the end of the school day according to schedule. 
Schools should follow normal school closure procedures to ensure that transport is suspend during the period the school remains closed 
 
What are the transport arrangements for residential placements? You should contact parents/carers to inform them of the decision to close and when this will occur, with a possible timescale. If this is not the normal return to home day or time, i.e. midweek/midterm, you should first ask parents/ careers to come and collect their child. If this is not possible the local authority should be contacted to make transport arrangements to return the child safely home. This may not be with your normal transport provider.
Please note the local authority do not have any arrangements established for pupils who board for 52 weeks. 
 
What if a transport operator or route is affected by COVID-19? We are expecting that some services may be disrupted due to possible reduction in staff availability.  
If we are aware of a contract that may have operational difficulties we will liaise with parents and school to advise of the situation, this could result in the transport not operating for a period of time.
Any contracts which we are informed that a person is suspected of contracting Covid-19 we would recommended following public health advice. 
If the local authority is unable to fulfil the transport arrangements, this absence will not initiate any attendance procedures
 
Special Educational Needs and Disabilities  
Do all children with an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP) need to attend school? No, if it is safe for the child to stay at home, then they should stay at home. If their parents are Key Workers then they will attend when parents shifts necessitate for them to be at work. Head teachers need to undertake a risk assessment to ensure they would not be at significant risk if their placement did not continue (this is particularly so for those in special schools).   
Do we have a risk assessment proforma?

The Headteacher needs to undertake their own risk assessment – there’s no specific tool, it’s a genuine risk assessment based on each individual child’s needs but the guidance the Inclusion team are giving is that if the child is in one of the vulnerable health groups identified – even if they have an EHCP – they should stay home if they possibly can for the next 12 weeks.

EHCP risk assessment proforma

 
Does it include children with draft EHCPs or those who are undergoing assessment or those at SEN support?.  No. The focus of schools at the moment is providing care to support key workers to work, and easing the pressure on families with vulnerable children. It is not about continuing education.  
What about medications for pupils? Schools need to ensure that pupil who are prescribed medicine that is held in school is given back to pupils at the end of each school day. This is to include inhalers, adrenalin auto-injectors and insulin amongst other medicines. If a child attends school, they should bring them in with them and then go home with it at the end of the day. The idea is that the medication is always near the child.   
Is there any advice for parents? Follow these links: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/send-local-offer or read the DfE Guidance  
Suppliers  
One of my suppliers has asked me to sign up to a supplemental agreement, which states that in the event of school closure due to COVID-19 the school agree to pay a proportion of the typical weekly/monthly invoice.

Schools should not sign up without speaking to Schools and Early Years Team and/or Procurement Team.

Contact: Procurement@northyorks.gov.uk or 01609 533450 for help and support

 
     

 


Frequently asked questions - early years providers

Questions Answers
Will my early years provision still receive the early years government funding if we have to close due to the Coronavirus?

Guidance has been sent out to all early years providers regarding the funding arrangements relating to closure of early years’ provision.  This guidance will be updated as and when further information is available.

What should I do if an employee is concerned about coming into work because of Covid-19? Some employees may feel they do not want to go to work if they are afraid of catching coronavirus.  In such cases, owners/managers should listen to any concerns staff may have and make a decision based on the situation with reference to HR guidance.

What if a staff member wants to wear a face mask to work?

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19#preventing-spread-of-infection
What if a staff member needs time off to look after a dependent who has tested positive to Coronavirus? https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19 
As a Manager, what should I ask a staff member who rings to say they are self-isolating? https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19 

 


Frequently asked questions - for parents

Question Answer
The childcare provision my child normally goes to has closed because of Coronavirus.  Can I take my child to another childcare provider temporarily?

 

If another childcare provider has got the capacity and is able to take your child temporarily, you may take them to that setting.

How do I find out what childcare providers are in my area

Contact the Families Information Service at North Yorkshire County Council on fis.information@northyorks.gov.uk
My child has special educational needs and disabilities Frequently asked questions for parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities