COVID-19 (Coronavirus) : Latest information and advice

What is the current situation with the COVID -19 (Coronavirus) and where to find more information.

Information from the London Borough of Sutton

COVID-19 Schools and Education

Schools and education

Returning to Education settings in September 2020

Education settings returned from the beginning of September for all pupils. The decision made by government to reopen education settings this term related to a number of reasons including: 

  • the declining prevalence of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) since the lockdown period
  • the NHS test and trace service that is now up and running
  • the growing understanding of the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools

Some parents and pupils may have concerns about attending school, however it is really important for children and young people that they do attend early years provision, school and college, for their educational progress, wellbeing and wider development. 

School and college attendance is mandatory. This means that there’s a legal duty for parents and carers of compulsory school-age to send their child to school regularly. Where children are not able to attend school because parents are following medical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.

Local Covid Alerts and Education

On 12 October 2020, the Prime Minister set out how the government will further simplify and standardise local rules by introducing a three-tiered system of local COVID Alert Levels in England – medium, high and very high (taking effect 14 October).

Sutton is currently in the ‘High’ category.

Further information on what you can and cannot do if you live, work or travel in each of the local COVID Alert Levels can be found using the links below. In each scenario, Schools will remain open to all pupils as they do currently in each of the tiers below. Pupils are therefore still expected to attend their education setting, unless they are one of the very small number of pupils or students under paediatric care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend an education setting. There are some restrictions affecting childcare and university settings so please do read each of the categories below. 

Government guidance to support education providers, local authorities and parents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be accessed using the links below:The government has prioritised ensuring all children can attend school safely, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. The tiers of restriction for education and childcare, summarised in annex 3 of the Contain Framework and in guidance on higher education, are different from the Local COVID Alert Level framework. Decisions on any restrictions necessary in education or childcare settings are taken separately on a case-by-case basis in the light of local circumstances, including information about the incidence and transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

COVID-19 safe schools

Sutton’s schools and education settings have worked hard to prepare for opening in September and continue to work hard to keep schools as safe as possible. All schools have rigorous risk assessments in place that are regularly updated based on the latest context and Government guidance. COVID-19 safe schools

Parents can find out about the systems of controls that schools and early years settings will have in place to ensure that pupils, staff and parents are safe when in schools or Early Years settings. There is also guidance for parents which sets out some of the changes and protective measures the government is asking schools and colleges to put in place. It will also look at what parents, carers, children and young people will need to do to help ensure schools and colleges are as safe as possible for everyone.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) should also refer to the separate guidance for full opening of special schools and other specialist settings.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child attending school?

For the vast majority of issues/concerns relating to children returning to education, parents should contact their education setting, however, issues relating to education support services parents should contact the relevant departments below:

Travelling to School/Early Years setting or College

Transport for London have confirmed that Public Transport will continue to be affected by COVID-19 with a reduction in capacity on buses and the train network. Schools, Local Authorities and parents are being asked to ensure that as many pupils walk or cycle to school as possible.  

Schools are also being encouraged to stagger their start times (many schools do this anyway in Sutton) in order to reduce demand on peak services.

The Council is also undertaking a number of initiatives to promote safe walking and cycling in the Borough, more information can be found on the COVID-19 Safer, Active, Greener Streets section. TfL have also produced guidance and advice for young people on how to travel safely as well as a journey planning tool in light of current COVID-19 restrictions. If at all possible, children and young people should be walking or cycling to school in the Autumn term. 

Designated Transport (SEND Transport)

Dedicated transport is used only to carry pupils to school including statutory (predominantly young people with special education needs and disabilities - SEND). These are routes/vehicles that are not accessible to the general public. Our policy for the period from 1 September 2020 replaces previous guidance issued on 1 June 2020. FAQs and the letter sent to parents of pupils eligible for travel assistance is included for reference. This policy remains subject to review.

If you have any questions about SEND transport please contact SEN.Transport@cognus.org.uk