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Coronavirus

The DfE has also published additional FAQS online to help parents and carers and you should also look at these. You can also keep up with the latest government advice.

Only those children of critical workers or vulnerable pupils should be in school. The aim of the partial school closure measures set out by the Secretary of State for Education is to reduce the overall population of children moving around local areas as far as possible, in order to further reduce the number of social interactions and thus flatten the upward curve of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Re-opening of schools

Most schools are already open in Wiltshire for the children of critical workers and vulnerable group pupils. We have been encouraging families with social workers to send their children to school as we believe that this is the safest place for them in the widest sense and are grateful to Wiltshire schools who do not want to see children’s learning compromised at a very difficult time.

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The government has asked Early Years (EY) providers to open for all of their intake from 1 June onwards. Your child’s EY provider will let you know when your child can return. 

Primary phase has been asked to open more widely to pupils from Reception and Years 1 and 6, where it is safe to do so from 1 June onwards. Your child’s school will let you know when your child can return to school. 

The government has said secondary school pupils in Years 10 and 12 will go back from 15 June.

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All Early Years (EY) settings, primary and secondary schools are risk assessing their sites in relation to the need for social distancing.

They have been asked to prioritise as follows;

  • Maintaining the existing offer to vulnerable pupils and key worker children
  • Keeping staff and pupils safe by maintaining social distancing where possible and much smaller group sizes
  • Adding in other groups as schools are altered to meet these essential components

When they have risk assessed and converted their school site for wider attendance at a safe distance, they will contact you and ask you about your needs and then explain what the changes will mean for you and your child. They will let you know when they are ready for your child to start school again.

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Your school will accommodate as many pupils as they can safely do so whilst maintaining their existing commitments and the safety of everyone in school.

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The government has confirmed that they will say whether they believe that it is safe to do so on the 28 May but schools are preparing plans from 1 June. This does not mean that eligible children will all return to school on this date. Your child’s school will let you know when your child can start school again. 

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Schools have been asked to continue to prioritise the children of critical workers, whose parents cannot work from home and vulnerable pupils.

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Schools will only open when they believe it is safe as possible.

The government has said parents should be ‘strongly encouraged’ to have their children attend. However, parents will not be fined if they choose for their children not to attend school.

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Your school will contact you with the details.

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  • Start to increase the number of times that you encourage your child to wash their hands and practise maintaining social distance.
  • Look at how they could walk or cycle to school.
  • Read you schools’ joining instructions - most will not want parents and other adults on site and will have set out safe entry and exit points.
  • Arrive at the time you are asked to attend and don’t arrive early or linger later.
  • Explain any changes in behaviour policies to your child. Social distancing is really important and although schools and pupils have missed each other, it’s important that we keep each other safe.
  • Schools will tell you what children can/should wear and whether they can bring any kit or food with them. Make your child aware of any changes.
  • Explain that they will be in different groups to March and may have a different class teacher/TA. This is because class sizes will be halved at least. Pupils will be in a “bubble” or group with the same adults/s. This will mean that if there were a suspected case of Covid-19 that just the bubble would be sent home for self-isolation
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School transport from 1 June 2020

We are not requiring children to wear masks or face coverings on school transport.

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Yes, vehicles will be cleaned at the end of every journey, taking particular attention to frequently touched areas such as door handles, back of seat coverings, hand rails, bell pushes and seat belts.

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In line with government guidelines social distancing does not allow close contact with friends, only with other members of their own household

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If you choose not to send your child to school on the transport arranged by Wiltshire Council, you will have to make your own arrangements. However, it is important that you follow government guidelines and do not gather at the school gates.

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Whilst we are working with operators on this there is a limit to the number of vehicles of any particular size that are available in the market. Some routes will have restrictions on the size of vehicle that can be used, and everything we provide has to be done within existing contract arrangements. Similarly, there are not enough spare vehicles and drivers available to enable us to provide additional vehicles on every route.

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No one with symptoms should attend a school for any reason. Eligible children – including priority groups – are strongly encouraged to attend their school, unless they are self-isolating, clinically extremely vulnerable or they are clinically vulnerable (in which case they should follow medical advice). If someone in their household is extremely clinically vulnerable, they should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to, and the child is able to understand and follow those instructions. Families should notify their nursery/school/college as normal if their child is unable to attend so that staff can explore the reason with them and address barriers together. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, and schools and colleges will not be held to account for attendance levels.

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Yes. There may be some extenuating circumstances to this, but you will be notified as soon as possible should that be the case.

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We will endeavour to provide the usual Passenger Assistant, where we can, but we cannot guarantee you will get your normal driver/PA (taxi) as they may be self-isolating themselves or looking after someone who is.

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As more people return to work, there will be more movement outside people’s immediate household. This increased mobility means the government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically. A face covering is not the same as a face mask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.

Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.

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Government advice to avoid public transport wherever possible is to help maintain social distancing for those people who have to travel. We are working closely with the bus companies to try to provide sufficient capacity at school times and are asking people to stagger their journeys to work and avoid school times if they can.

Children should wash their hands for 20 seconds before leaving home (as they would for any activity away from home) and, if possible, sanitise their hands before boarding school transport. Similarly, if possible, children should sanitise their hands once they have left the bus, and in any case should wash their hands thoroughly when they re-enter their homes. It is good practice for children not to touch their faces, to cough and sneeze into a tissue or their elbow and should be encouraged at all times, including on school transport to do so. Routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus.

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Children should space themselves out around the vehicle, following the instructions of the driver, or school staff. We would discourage parents boarding the bus to assist with seat belts and coats for example. We will ensure that additional time is taken at each stop so that children can seat themselves safely and in good time.

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We ask that you assist your child in maintaining social distancing from members of other households while at the bus stop. We have asked drivers to be even more aware of people near bus stops than they might ordinarily be to ensure that they pick everyone up. It is important that you observe social distancing while you wait for the school bus to return from school, and that you move away from the bus stop once your child has left the bus/coach to allow the next child to alight.

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If you are unhappy about a decision which has been made regarding transport for your child, you can pursue your request further. You should submit, in writing, the circumstances to be considered to the education transport entitlement manager. Email to educationtransport@wiltshire.gov.uk, if your child is attending a mainstream school and PTUTransport-requests@wiltshire.gov.uk if your child is attending a special school. If your concern is not managed to your satisfaction by operational staff, it will be escalated to the Head of Service.

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Keyworkers

We are in regular contact with our schools so where needed, schools can join together and provide childcare facilities. We can also move children to a different childcare provision where possible.

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Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place. However, many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

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The advice is to stay at home and follow the government advice online.

Do not leave your home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual.
  • To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
    You can also  Use the 111 coronavirus service and put in your symptoms. You can also call 111.

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Children with at least one parent or carer who is critical to the COVID-19 response can attend school if required. However, many families with a parent or carer working in critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.

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Funding

The government continues to pay funding to local authorities for the free entitlements for two, three and four year olds. It has also introduced a number of measures to support workers which will help support private early years providers. The government is asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents.

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Headteachers will decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area. Schools can provide food on site, arrange deliveries or purchase a voucher to be given to the family.

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Caring

Read the government advice on the law on leaving children unattended.

There is no law about when you can leave your child on their own but it is an offence to leave them alone if it places them at risk. As parents, you should use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them at home.

It is important to be aware that you can be prosecuted if you leave a child alone ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’. If you are at all unsure, the NSPCC recommends that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time, children under 16 shouldn’t be left alone overnight and babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

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Starting school

We are also processing late applications submitted already as usual. We will be working with schools on applications made to enable us to do this. There is no statutory deadline for these offers.

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Any new applications for primary or secondary places, including transfers between schools during the school year, now all need to be emailed to us. The application forms are all on our website pages. They can be printed and then scanned or photos can be taken of each page and then emailed to us. This information has been added to our webpages today. We are also asking people to state whether they are critical/keyworkers so that we can prioritise those applications. Proof of this will need to be provided.

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Your child only needs to attend school if they are vulnerable or you or your partner are a critical worker. The government advice is to keep your child at home if at all possible. Key worker children do not need to attend if someone can look after them. Close

Education

Schools are providing home learning resources. We have also provided examples and there are many helpful links online. The DfE is working with the BBC and others to provide resources for children to access while at home. The government has also cancelled all exams for this year.

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There is lots of information online you can access.

There are a number of online resources that provide ideas on how to talk through concerns with your child. Please have a look at the links below for ideas.

  • Triple P website has a parenting area with information, tips, tools and strategies for parents and carers of children and young people as well as a Facebook page
  • Care for the Family has specific information for parents and carers of children with additional needs as well as generic parenting information as well as a Facebook page
  • For support on other issues you can access On Your Mind and Kooth which provides free, safe and anonymous online support for young people.
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Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels will not go ahead this summer.

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer. Further information on the cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020 is available.

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The Wiltshire Parent Carer Council (WPCC) has dedicated coronavirus pages on its website with lots of SEND specific information, advice, guidance, resources and home learning ideas that is being updated daily. You can call them on 01225 764647 or email: admin@wiltspcc.co.uk.

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Last updated: 7 July 2020 | Last reviewed: 7 July 2020