by Caroline Pringle, Families and Professionals Advisor (Child Enquiries)
With all children returning to school for the Autumn term, this open letter of 21 July 2020 from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families and Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Care acknowledges the important role parents, families and carers of children with SEND have undertaken during these difficult times of the pandemic.
The letter details what actions the government, school and local authorities will carry out for the full opening of schools. It outlines guidance for schools, using a ‘system of controls’ such as creating ‘bubbles’ to ensure it is as safe as possible for your child’s return.
For children with Education Health Care(EHC) plans, the government will support local authorities, health commissioning bodies and schools to work towards full provision.
Should an individual (i.e. child, young person, staff or family) develop COVID-19 symptoms and are unable to access testing, schools will have access to a number of home-testing kits and will receive direct support from their local Public Health England health protection team.
The letter also highlights services such as short breaks and respite care, which covers provisions such as holiday and after school clubs, and how these should be prioritised. School transport is another issue of concern and guidance is being finalised for this.