May 14th, 2020
I hope that everyone is keeping well and safe in these difficult times for us all. I thought it may be useful to
explain what is going on in relation to the ‘re-opening’ of school and this letter outlines key aspects relating to
this, following the announcement by the Prime minster on Sunday 10th May 2020 and subsequent guidance
received from the Department of Education (DFE). I apologise for the length of this letter and its complexity, I
have tried to simplify it and is based on the following documents;
‘Guidance on the actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June’
‘Implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings’
As a general guide to how I have written this document, any wordings which are in ‘italics’ are taken directly from
In the Prime minister’s broadcast on Sunday evening he said that schools would partially reopen from the week
commencing 1st June 2020 for primary pupils of Nursery age, reception class age and pupils in year 1 and year 6;
for secondary aged pupils in year 10, for schools to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote
education of year 10 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full time provision they are
offering to priority groups. However this statement applies to pupils attending mainstream schools and not
pupils who attend special schools.
For special schools we have been instructed to “work towards a phased return of more
children and young people without a focus on specific year groups.” Clearly this is very
different from the main message given by the Government through the media.
Vulnerable children and young people
Since the ‘lockdown’ started, Mowbray School has been open to children of key workers and to more vulnerable
pupils who have been highlighted through social care, as needing to be in school, throughout this period the
number of pupils attending has steadily increased, with 22 pupils in school this week. ‘There is a continuing
expectation that vulnerable children and young people of all year groups will attend educational or childcare
provision, where it is safe and appropriate for them do so.’
We are planning to support more families and have completed a risk assessment on each child in school, based on
information provided by school staff who have been in regular contact with you and conversations we have had
with social workers, the Government view is, ‘Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with
an EHC plan (Education Health Care plan) will be safer at home, we recommend they stay at home. Where the risk
assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be as safe or safer at an educational setting,
we recommend they attend the educational setting.’
This gives some clarity on which children we should prioritize, and we will be following the recommendation that
if a child is safer at home, they stay at home. The greatest challenge we face in school is in implementing, social
This is something which we have all come to learn to live with and though there are now changes to ‘lockdown’
allowing greater freedoms, it is all conditional upon social distancing, this means keeping 2 meters away from
others. Throughout the lockdown period we have tried to ensure that social distancing procedures are followed in
school, what I have found through working with the children and staff in school, is that we cannot socially
distance ourselves from the children, they cannot socially distance from staff and do not socially distance
themselves from each other. Unfortunately, pupils and staff who have attended school over the past 8 weeks,
have been at an increased risk of catching the virus, compared to those children and staff who have been able to
stay at home. I am extremely pleased that none of those children and staff have caught the COVID19 virus.
We are looking at further systems we can put in place to minimize risk of infection from COVID 19, however it is
only fair to say that regardless of what we do in school, we cannot guarantee your child is safe from catching the
virus if they are in school. Clearly the higher the number of children and staff in school, the higher the chances of
children and staff catching COVID19.
‘Shielded and clinically vulnerable children and young people
For the vast majority of children and young people, coronavirus is a mild illness. Children and young people (0 to
18 years of age) who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions
have been advised to shield. We do not expect these children to be attending school and they should continue to
be supported at home as much as possible. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are
those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A small minority of children will fall into
this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
Shielded and clinically vulnerable adults
Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are advised not to work outside the home. We are strongly advising
people, including education staff, who are clinically extremely vulnerable (those with serious underlying health
conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus and have been advised by their
clinician or through a letter) to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. Staff in this
position are advised not to attend work. Read COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on
medical grounds as extremely vulnerable for more advice.
Clinically vulnerable individuals who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing
conditions as set out in the Staying at home and away from others (social distancing) guidance have been advised
to take extra care in observing social distancing and should work from home where possible. Education and
childcare settings should endeavour to support this, for example by asking staff to support remote education,
carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home. If clinically vulnerable (but not clinically
extremely vulnerable) individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the safest available on-site roles,
staying 2 metres away from others wherever possible, although the individual may choose to take on a role that
does not allow for this distance if they prefer to do so. If they have to spend time within 2 metres of other people,
settings must carefully assess and discuss with them whether this involves an acceptable level of risk.
Living with a shielded or clinically vulnerable person
If a child, young person or a member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically
extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.If a child, young person or staff member lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable,
as set out in the COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely
vulnerable guidance, it is advised they only attend an education or childcare setting if stringent social distancing
can be adhered to and, in the case of children, they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may
not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on
social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend.
They should be supported to learn or work at home.’
School transport has been continually provided since lockdown began, social distancing in taxi’s and minibuses
has not been able to happen, as children, drivers and escorts cannot keep 2 meters apart in these vehicles.
Drivers and escorts have been wearing masks as protection. I am unsure as to what additional protective
measures will be taken, as more children access these vehicles.
Our next steps
We will continue to plan to admit additional pupils, as identified by our risk assessments where we feel
they are safer based in school and at the same time ensuring that we can keep everyone as safe as
possible on our premises. I know that times are tough for us all and we know that some of our children
have significantly greater needs and present greater challenge than others, it will make sense that we
try to prioritise such children.
I have been throughout this crisis, and continue to, work closely with North Yorkshire County Council in
all we do to support children, families and staff. I will keep families informed as to the next steps we are
taking and be in touch with families who we feel require the additional support of their child attending