Council services during the COVID-19 outbreak

Maintaining essential services to support your health and wellbeing

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Covid-19 update for Parents and Carers

23 March 2020                                                  

What we know

Government have now published guidance for both schools and colleges on maintaining education provision and guidance for parents and carers:

Guidance for schools and colleges on maintaining education provision

Closure of education settings – information for parents and carers

Arrangements for week commencing 23 March 2020

 All schools and settings have been asked to be open for the normal school day where possible, some may not be able to open due to staffing implications which will not allow for safety and care of children.  If possible, Cheshire East Council will look to source additional staff to support the school to remain open or offer a place at an alternative school, where it is safe to do so, and the need of children can be met, and there is capacity to do so.

Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘cared for children’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Transport

We expect public and school transport to continue as normal.  However, we cannot guarantee the same driver as usual as they could be isolating or unwell, but we will look at retain consistency where possible. Transport will be reviewed, and may change, once we are aware of the number of children actually attending schools.

Vulnerable pupils

For vulnerable children who have a social worker our assumption is that these children should be attending.  If any parents or carers request to keep children at home as they believe they can keep them safe social workers will assess the best option for the child. 

Pupils with an education, health and care plan

Schools and colleges are advised to make case by case based assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home.

We have requested schools undertake this assessment and provide the local authority with details of the outcome of their assessment and confirmation of whether a place is being provided for each child.

It is important to note the school will not be providing a full curriculum, they will be providing care for the children and incorporating education provision and a range of activities, but this will NOT be fully in line with their  EHC provision.

Children being supported by tutors

Where children are being supported by tutors organised by Cheshire East Council, we will provide more information about arrangements, as soon as possible.  We will not continue to offer face to face tuition but will look to provide work possibly on line and where possible support by a telephone call.

Cheshire East Council ongoing  SEND service

 To support us during these unprecedented times we are requesting that:

You do NOT submit new needs assessment requests for  EHC plans until we return to business as usual at which point guidance will be issued.

Any  SEN queries should be emailed to SENTeamEast@cheshireeast.gov.uk. Please do not ring or contact individual workers and keep enquires to urgent matters. Calls will be forwarded to an appropriate member of the service for response and we will aim to respond within 3- 5 working days. Please do not send follow up emails.

In return we will

Continue to progress current needs assessment requests where we can obtain appropriate information to support the  EHC Plan.  However, these will be emailed to you using Egress (secure email) for comment and return. We will not be undertaking any face to face meetings with children, school staff or parents.

We will continue to consult on schools places for September where these have not been agreed, but we may need to provide interim school places and consider change of school requests at a later date if we cannot get responses from schools.

We will be asking schools to continue to undertake annual reviews for  SEN children but do these differently, especially for children not attending school during this period.  Advice/guidance will be issued hopefully next week.

Finally we hope this provides some more practical guidance to support the current arrangement about provision that will be available from Monday 23 March 2020.  If you have any queries, in the first instance, please discuss arrangements with the school.

In terms of complying with GDPR legislation any communications with parents are likely to be by email and if these are about individual children, Cheshire East Council will send these securely through Egress.