Information from Shropshire Council re School Closures
PACC has been working with Shropshire Council to clarify issues relating to current school closures and the identification of those children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans as vulnerable. Below is information from Shropshire Council that we have been asked to share with you. There is also an additional letter from the Sensory Inclusion Service for those families who are caring for young people with a sensory impairment available here
We would like to thank colleagues at Shropshire Council and Shropshire schools and colleges for the work that they are doing to support our community at this difficult time. It is a worrying time for all and we hope that we can all continue to work together for the benefit of everyone. Please remember that if you are able to keep your child at home you should do so, however there is help there for those families who need it.
For further guidance on Co-vid 19 and Vulnerable Children and Young People see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people?fbclid=IwAR3ArzCVfA81locL9BzAhY1OAaapVsyvH6bIMUuc6uFSZ-O3EkSrTOmk_P8
Letter From Shropshire Council
Dear Parent Carer
We are contacting you provide an update on the current situation regarding school provision and related issues.
School / College Closures
From Monday, it is expected that most Shropshire children will be staying at home. Children who have a parent who is a key worker and children who fit into the vulnerable category are entitled to school provision, but this is optional and many of these may be best cared for at home. If you are a key-worker or have a child with an EHCP, Child In Need Plan, or any needs that may put your child at risk of physical or mental distress if they are removed from their education setting, please speak to your school/college about how they may be able to support you and your family. We have had many enquiries around what is a key-worker, one of the key principles to determining who is a key worker is whether their role supports the response to COVID-19.
There are currently many uncertainties about numbers of pupils expected next week. It is likely that we will only get a true picture of the situation across Shropshire on Monday and we will then work with schools to plan provision across the county. This may lead to a hub model in various parts of the county if this is needed. In the meantime, we are in regular contact with schools to identify hotspots and solutions.
Information from Shropshire Council’s Transport team
Following the latest Government advice that schools are to open for those parents and carers that are classed as “Critical Workers” or have children with an EHCP or are vulnerable, we will operate as far as possible the home to school transport network from Monday 23 March 2020. At the same time some public transport routes will be reduced from Monday 23 March and details of this can be found on the Council’s website. Please be aware that as the situation develops these services may be amended and we will of course need to take account of any schools that are closed due to staffing levels or COVID-19, we will continue to advise parents and carers as much as we can and should you have any concerns please contact the Council’s customer service team on 03456789008. We really appreciate the cooperation of all our operators drivers and passenger assistants as we navigate our way through this fast developing situation.
Free school meals
All schools should have Free School Meals arrangements in place for those parents/carers who qualify through benefits or earnings. The government is planning to launch a government backed voucher scheme and more details will be released in the near future.
Information with regard to vulnerable children and those with an EHCP from Julia Dean:
You will be aware that the government have identified all children with an EHCP as being vulnerable as well as those who are subject to a CIN/CP plan. Some children who are looked after may also fall into this category as will some who are subject to an Early Help plan. For those children with an EHCP, whose parents want them to continue to attend school, the local authority must ensure that there is provision available for them; our expectation is that this will be provided by the setting named in section I of the EHCP. Where this is not possible due to reduced staffing levels/school closure, the LA expect that the school named in Section I will make alternative arrangements locally in liaison with the local authority and receiving school . Transition arrangements need to be planned as far as is possible under these very difficult circumstances. Whilst it is important to make decisions with parents, parents should not be directed to make these arrangements and negotiate alternative provision themselves. If for any reason you are struggling to access suitable arrangements please contact the SEN Team (01743 254267) firstname.lastname@example.org.
When making alternative arrangements schools should take into account the nature of the child’s special educational needs and consider any reasonable adaptations that may be required to the environment/activities/staffing to enable individual children to feel safe and reduce anxiety. Whilst we would not be expecting schools to deliver the provision as identified in Section F of the EHCP please make sure that all adults working with a child with an EHCP are fully aware of the content of the EHCP and in particular the nature of their special educational needs. It would be helpful to have an updated one-page profile. Please contact the transport team if you need to make changes to transport arrangements or have general questions regarding transport at this time.
Where children have visiting professionals e.g. SIS/SALT the advice that has been given is that such meetings could be conducted via Skype/facetime/phone call. Separate advice has already been circulated by SIS for those children with a hearing/visual impairment. There is some useful information/advice available on the Local Offer with regard to supporting children with SEN including information about anxiety relating to COVID – 19. At the current time we will still be expecting annual reviews to go ahead, if possible (although we recognise that this may not always be practical). Schools may find it helpful to set up a Skype option to enable attendance. We are awaiting information to be published about the statutory responsibilities relating to SEND. We will share with you as soon as these are published. In the meantime if meetings are cancelled or postponed this should be done in consultation with parent’s carers. At the current time we will still be issuing draft and final EHCPS and will be undertaking assessments. However, we are requesting that schools think carefully before sending in a request for an EHC needs assessment as the LA are also under significant pressure and a thorough assessment is not possible whilst schools are closed.
Information from Shropshire Council
23rd March 2020
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