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On Wednesday, Government announced that after schools shut their gates on Friday afternoon, they will remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Early years settings, including childminders, are expected to also follow this guidance.
To support early years settings at this time, the Chancellor has also decided that they will be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year. That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1 April.
Last night, Government published guidance for education settings and local authorities on maintaining educational provision. This includes a list of key workers.
Education settings are being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the COVID-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Parents who are critical to the COVID-19 response includes those who work in:
- Health and social care
- Education and childcare
- Key public services
- Local and national government
- Food and other necessary goods
- Public safety and national security
- Utilities, communication and financial services
Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
Government have also published information for parents and carers about the closure of schools and other educational settings. This will be updated as further information is available.