Coronavirus And School Closures – What's The Position For Special Schools?

We look here at the precise terms of the Government announcement and the options open to special schools.

The Government announcement that all schools are to close (but remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children) from the end of today applies only to children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges. It does not apply to special schools which are 'advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan'. This will be particularly critical for children with complex health care and clinical needs with multiple NHS care plans.

The announcement says 'for some, they will be safer in education provision' while 'for others, they will be safer at home' and confirms that 'we trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required'. Special schools are therefore permitted and able to assess the needs of their pupils on EHC plans and, where appropriate, decide that they are safer at home. This will need to take their home circumstances into account, specifically whether the parent(s)/carer(s) are able and well enough to look after them and whether any other members of the household have, or are suspected to have coronavirus. Where a parent/carer is a key or critical worker, the child may need to be educated in school.

Where staffing levels at the school are such that it will not be safe to educate the child in the school, the school will need to liaise with the local authority to arrange for staff from elsewhere to educate the child at the school or for the child to be...

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