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Get the facts about vulnerable and critical worker children

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All schools and colleges are closed to all but vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

The government is taking every possible measure to reduce cases in the community and protect the NHS. It means at the moment the majority of school and college students should be at home.

We are aware of reports of schools and colleges having more pupils in attendance this week than during the last period when schools were only open to vulnerable and key worker pupils. The national restrictions mean all children who can stay at home should stay at home.

A definition of what classifies as a vulnerable child can be found here. Critical workers are classified as parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus and EU transition response. A full list can be found here.

If a child may be considered vulnerable because they don’t have access to online learning, and therefore may be eligible to attend school, the school should apply for a device for the child through the Department’s devices programme. A million devices are being delivered to schools to give to disadvantaged children that need them.

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If a child has a parent who is a critical worker, it is for the parent to decide whether they are able to keep the child at home. We encourage parents to consider the spirit of the lockdown when making their decision. Only one parent needs to be a critical worker, and they may be working from home and still require their child to attend school.

Schools should continue to encourage vulnerable children to attend, and make provision where critical workers identify a need for their child to attend.

Schools are free to clarify a parent’s critical worker status, but should not seek to discourage critical workers from sending their child to school for any other reason.

Schools have been closed to most pupils during the lockdown not because they are unsafe, but because the government is taking every possible measure to reduce cases in the community and protect the NHS. It does not undermine the lockdown to host vulnerable and critical worker children on site during this period.

Any schools facing operational difficulties with following the guidance and accommodating the necessary children on site should contact their Regional School Commissioner team for support.

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