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COVID19 - Coronavirus Update

Page last updated: 27/03/2020

​​​​​​​​Please ensure you read all available links and guidance on this page, and those available on the DfE / Public Health and Essex County Council websites before making contact. Should your question(s) still not be answered, then please email schools.communication@essex.gov.uk​. Alternatively, if you need to speak to the DfE directly then use the following contact details:

  • Telephone Number - 0800 046 8687
  • Email - DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk
  • (Opening hours 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday)
  • ​Please note: If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UKPRN) available when calling the helpline.

​​​This page will be updated daily with the most recent communications sent from Clare Kershaw, Director of Education - see below. 

Different sets of Frequently Asked Questions have been put together which again, will be updated as and when new queries arise:

If you need to report a school closure, please log this (for every day you are closing) via the My School Page in the usual way. Further information can be found on the School Closures page. ​

There are a number of documents and resources also available for you:

Physical and Sensory Impairment Teaching Service Support

The Physical and Sensory Impairment Teaching Service at Essex County Council have put together useful websites and apps to support parents with home learning:  

Your child's specialist teacher can also offer remote support for the following:

  1. Advice in accessing or adapting work sent home from school
  2. Advice in the use of specialist equipment

Please contact the relevant team lead if you need to find out who they are:

Hearing Impairment team: matthew.bysouth@essex.gov.uk
Visual Impairment team: kay.leeser@essex.gov.uk
Physical and Neurological Impairment team: jo.lambert@essex.gov.uk

Please note they will not be able to give advice on Health or Social Care matters.

We are exploring ways to provide cover for the Designated Lead / Deputy Designated Lead role in the event of absence due to staff sickness.  To ensure there is coverage of level 3 safeguarding trained staff for all schools during the closure period, we need details of all current staff undertaking that role.   We are requesting that all schools please provide this information via this link .  Going forward, if any schools require cover for the role, please inform us through the usual route: Schools.Communication@essex.gov.uk and we will make arrangements to support you. 


Any documents referred to in the below statements, can be found above in the list of resources.

Updates from Clare Kershaw

Friday 27 March

Round up of week

Dear Colleague,

Firstly I would like to congratulate you all for getting to the end of what has been one of the most challenging weeks of all of our professional careers and one I suspect most of us do not want to repeat.   I don't think any of us envisioned that we would see the closure of our schools, settings and colleges across the county in our careers, and then for them to be re-opened to a very small group of children and young people.  Despite the difficult week we have all had, you all need to be extremely proud of how you and your teams have managed this.  I have been receiving wonderful emails from many of you explaining how you are managing and organising your pupils that need care whilst providing fantastic resources for pupils at home and looking after your staff.

I don't want to include too much in this email as you need to rest over the weekend, so I will keep the information to a minimum.  However, Steve Whitfield, Jo Barclay and Ros Somerville have today been working on a set of guidance and resources  regarding how we can all better support children and young people's emotional wellbeing and mental health at this time.  This has been developed in conjunction with EWMHS.  We know that as the stay at home policy lengthens, mental health concerns will increase .  Many of you are monitoring this with those  pupils you are already concerned about as part of your safeguarding procedures, however I would ask that we are all more vigilant during this time of anxiety and uncertainty in supporting children and young people and our staff too.  This guidance is attached.

Thank you to all who completed the survey and please accept my apologies that a couple of questions were not quite clear, we will resolve that for the survey next week.  Thank you to Pam and Simon for sending our clarification on the questions.    We will send out the analysis of the survey next week as soon as it has been processed.

I spoke to Sue Baldwin this morning and raised a number of points.    We discussed the financial impact of the closure policy on early years settings and I have pressed the DfE for a response to this, requested further specific guidance for our PMLD schools and pupils as, in my view, there is a clear gap  in the guidance, particularly for pupils requiring health and personal care and clarification on the expectation of schools around opening on Good Friday and Easter Monday, given the conflicting advice between the DfE and the Unions.   Sue has taken all of these back and I will chase her for an update on Monday.

The daily DfE update can be found attached.

Finally, we have drafted a home to school agreement template.  Many of you will already have these in place, I am sure, but if any of it is of use, please use it or add elements into your agreement.

Please do rest this weekend, as everyone keeps saying this is a marathon and not a sprint. 

Clare Kershaw

Director, Education 

Morning

Dear Colleague,

I hope you managed to get some rest last night.  There has not been much to update you on overnight – thank goodness.  The Government has updated the guidance to educational settings – I can't see that too much has changed but there is a section on Limiting the Spread of Coronavirus in Educational Settings and it has the new resources that were shared yesterday.

In my update yesterday evening, we have asked for you to complete a short survey, I would be extremely grateful if you are can complete the survey this morning, as it will provide some much needed data for us to work and plan with  - so thank you in advance.  The link is here and  it should take you no more than 10-15 minutes to complete.

I have this morning seen joint union guidance that has been put together by the NAHT, ASCL and the NEU.    The guidance is very helpful, however it does state that they do not expect schools to be open on Easter Friday or Easter Monday – which contradicts the DfE guidance that I sent to you yesterday – I have sent a query up to the DfE this morning and I will clarify this today for you.

Finally, we are aware that the stay at home policy will have an impact on children and young people's emotional wellbeing and mental health.  Jo Barclay took a call about this last night from a school regarding a concern and therefore is updating the safeguarding guidance to include a specific section on mental health to ensure that you have all of the information and support you need

I hope you have a good day  -  I will send an end of week summary to you later on.​

Clare Kershaw

Director, Education