West Cheshire schools close

20 March 2020

Following the announcement by the Education Secretary on Wednesday all schools, nurseries and sixth form colleges in West Cheshire have closed for educational purposes at the end of today, Friday 20 March, until further notice as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Schools are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children who are vulnerable and to those children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and cannot be safely cared for at home. A detailed list of key workers and vulnerable children that can be cared for by schools is included on the Department for Education's (DfE) website.

Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with the appropriate care.

Special schools will also be changing from an education provider to a childcare provider from Monday 23 March. As all children in a special school have an education, health and care plan (EHCP), schools will be working with families to clarify the care needs of their children, the support that is required by their families and which families are also key workers.

Special schools in the borough are very conscious of the importance of stability and routines for their children and will work closely with families to provide the support they need.

The Council’s education team are working closely with all schools and education settings across the borough to ensure that families are kept informed about the closures and the care offer they can provide. Parents are asked to follow the instructions sent out by their children’s schools.

Many parents working in the sectors covered under the key worker categories may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, or is vulnerable, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. People who are in a job which is delivering priority services in response to the pandemic, and who need their children to be looked after at school, should inform their school, who will make arrangements for them to be supported
  4. Parents should not rely on childcare from those groups of people who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions. 
  5. 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.
  6. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
Councillor Bob Cernik, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “We’ve reached a time when the decision has been made to close schools to help stop the spread of coronavirus across the country. It is vital that the workers from the key sectors listed on the Department for Education’s website are able to work to help with the fight against the virus and keep the country running and, that families with vulnerable children have access to care and support.

“As a local authority we will be doing everything we can to help support our schools and nurseries that now have a duty to care for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

“It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school and the fewer children in educational settings will help to lower the risk of the virus spreading and infecting vulnerable individuals in wider society.”

The Council and schools will be working closely with our partners who provide school meals to schools in the borough to make sure eligible pupils have continued access to free school meals during this period of closure. Schools will share details of how this will work to families who are eligible for free school dinners.

Information about school closures for parents and carers is available on the DfE's website and updates will be added to the Council’s website

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