Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th May 2020.

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Photo of Lord Jones of Cheltenham Lord Jones of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what reassurance they can give to teachers, parents and children that they will be safe from contracting COVID-19 when schools reopen; and what financial and other support will be provided should anyone in those categories catch the virus.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We want to get children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to be educated and learn. We will only do this provided that the five key tests set by Government justify the changes at the time.

Children, young people and teachers’ safety is our top priority. This is why we are taking a phased approach to opening for more children, to limit the risk of increasing the rate of transmission. We have also issued guidance to childcare settings, schools and colleges on the protective measures they should put in place to reduce risk further. These include children and young people staying within their new, smaller, classes wherever possible and limiting contact between different groups. We have also set out a range of additional protective measures including frequent cleaning, encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of day), and using outdoor space.

Staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households. A negative test will enable children and young people to get back to childcare or education, and their parents to get back to work. A positive test will ensure rapid action to protect their classmates and staff in their setting.

With regard to financial support, schools will continue to receive their core funding allocations – as determined by the local authority for maintained schools and through the general annual grant for academies. In addition, we have announced a fund for schools to cover specific additional costs as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak; this remains open and should be used by schools as appropriate.

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