COVID-19

On this page we will add any relevant updates and try to answer your questions about COVID-19 and what it means for your child’s education.

Go to the Suffolk County Council ‘Family wellbeing’ information

Latest news

Department for Education – recording attendance in relation to COVID-19 for the academic year 2020 to 2021 (updated 26th July 2021)

NHS regular rapid lateral flow tests guidance (updated 22nd July 2021)

Department for Education Actions for schools (updated 19th July 2021)

Department for Education guidance for the full opening: Special schools and other specialist settings (updated 19th July 2021)

COVID and school/college

Information from the Department for Education

What parents need to know

Actions for schools

GCSE and A level exams due to take place in the summer have been cancelled and the government are working with Ofqual to consider alternative arrangements.

How qualifications will be awarded – from the Chief Regulator

Department for Education information about GCSE. AS and A level qualifications for summer 2021

Department for Education information about vocational qualifications for summer 2021

BTEC’s due to take place in January were still allowed to go ahead but at the setting’s discretion.

Do I have to send my child back to school?

From the 8th March 2021, attendance at school became mandatory again with the legal duty for parents to send their child to school (where they are of compulsory school age)

A small number of children may have symptoms; have a positive test result; be self-isolating; or are at high-risk (extremely clinically vulnerable) due to a medical condition and have been advised by their clinical specialist or their GP they should not attend.

Read more in the ‘What parents need to know’ guidance from the Department for Education

If your child is not able to attend because they are following specialist medical or public health advice you will not be penalised.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child or young person returning to on-site education talk to school in the first instance.

What if there are further waves?

The government has asked local authorities to develop a plan to manage any local rise in numbers infected. Suffolk have developed a local outbreak plan for further waves – page 29 gives an overview of schools and settings.

View the Suffolk Covid-19 outbreak plan (opens PDF)

Department for Education Schools operational guidance (COVID-19)

Nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will report any confirmed cases and contain outbreaks by following advice from the local health protection team.

The local health protection team will advise what action is required. Usually, closure will not be necessary, but some groups may need to self-isolate.

Your child’s school or college should provide remote education if:

  • groups of pupils need to self-isolate
  • a larger restriction of attendance at school or college is needed

How can I support my child’s return to school?

See our latest information section ‘ Back to school‘ for support ideas, resources and links to further information.

What are the changes to legislation around EHC plans?

From 25 September 2020 the temporary regulations to relax timescales around EHC processes expired and normal statutory timescales come back into force.

The Coronavirus Act 2020 is in force for up to two years and allows the Secretary of State to issue a notice to temporarily ‘disapply’ (relax or remove) some duties around EHC plans. 

The Government announced (30 thApril) some temporary amendments to the SEND regulations around legal duties and timescales for EHC needs assessments and plans:

  • A modification noticewas issued by the Secretary of State to temporarily relax the duty to secure provision (section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014) for the period 1 stto 31 stMay 2020
  • A further modification noticeto extend the relaxation of this duty until 30th June 2020
  • A third modification noticeto extend the relaxation of this duty until 31st July 2020. No further notice has been issued and all duties now revert to current law.
  • The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020temporarily amends some Regulations that specify legal timescales applying to local authorities and health providers, mainly around timescales relating to EHC needs assessments and plans. This can only be used in circumstances relating to ‘ to the transmission or incidence of  coronavirus.’ These Regulations only apply from 1 stMay to 25 September 2020. 

The Department for Education expects Local authorities, health services and the other bodies involved in the processes relating to EHC needs assessments and plans to communicate regularly with the families of those children and young people with EHC plans, who are being assessed for plans or who apply for an EHC needs assessment.

Where circumstances relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus prevents provision being made or a timescale relating to an EHC plan or needs assessment, they need to let you know:

  • what provision will be made for your child or young person and the reason for any difference from the special educational and health provision specified in the EHC plan
  • what decision or process has been delayed relating to your EHC needs assessment/plan
ProcessDutyTemporarily changed toDates applied
Providing Special, Educational Provision and health provision in a planDuty to secure provision ( s42 of the C&FA 2014)

Reasonable endeavours

Note: This means that LA’s/health bodies must consider for each child and young person with an EHC plan what they can reasonably provide in the circumstances, during the notice period.

1 st May to 31st July 2020

Timescalesfor EHC plans e.g:

Requests for EHC needs assessment

Duty of a body to provide information within six weeks

Decisions about whether to issue a plan.

Preparation and issue of plans

Annual Review of plans

Mediation Process (issuing certificates, arranging mediation within 30 days)

Moving to a different local authority area

SEND Regulations 2014

(4, 5, 8, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22 and various mediation timescales within 34 to 39)

As soon as reasonably practicable

Note: Local authorities  must not apply blanket approaches in relation to EHC needs assessments or plans, processes and decision-making. They can use these modifications on a case-by-case basis.

1 stMay to 25 thSeptember 2020

Note: if the timescale/deadline was before 1 stMay 2020 the amendments cannot be applied as they were not in force.

Monitoring and reviewing direct payments in relation to a personal budget in an EHC planSEND Personal Budget Regulations 2014As soon as reasonably practicable1 stMay to 25 thSeptember 2020

Non-binding recommendations from the SEND Tribunal about Health and Social care

SEND Tribunal Regulations 2017As soon as reasonably practicable1 stMay to 25 thSeptember 2020

School/setting named in a plan

Duty to admit ( s43 of the C&FA 2014)

No change to this section of the Act currently

Note:

If a school or college named is currently closed they must add the child to the school roll and treat them in the same way as other pupils or students on roll

While settings may remain closed to pupils or students, they are expected to make arrangements that enable them to continue to respond to ‘consultations’ about a future place (where the local authority sends them a draft EHC plan for their response)

No changes applied to section of Act currently
Reviews and re-assessmentsDuty to carry out ( s44 of the C&FA 2014)

No change to this section of the Act currently

Note:

There have been some amendments to the SEND Regulations around timescales for Annual Review (see above)

No changes applied to section of Act currently

Details of the amendments to SEND Regulations(updated 29th May 2020)

Read the Secretary of State notice 1 stMay 2020

Read more about why the government decided to issue the latest notice of temporary changes to the law

The Special Educational Needs and Disability (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

Read the Coronavirus Act 2020 (Schedule 17 relates to the relaxation of provision)

Read the FAQ’s from The Children’s Legal Centre

Are there any changes to the SEND appeal process?

If you have an appeal in progress, the current position is that this will still go ahead but will most likely be held remotely. Many appeals over recent months have been heard using telephone or video links.

If you wish to delay your appeal due to the pandemic, perhaps you are finding it difficult to gather evidence for example, you could request a postponement by using the ‘ request for changes’ form.

You can still make a new appeal. The SEND Tribunal service have said they will be prioritising ‘phase-transfer’ appeals. A ‘phase transfer’ is when a child or young person is due to move up to the next phase of their education in September (primary to secondary, secondary to post-16 etc).

Read the advice about Tribunals planning and preparation

Read the information from the government about appeals using telephone or video links

Read the information from IPSEA about COVID-19 and appeals

Links to resources for helping children learn at home

Department for Education list of online resources for home education

Hungry Little Minds (early years)

BBC Bitesize (primary, secondary and post-16)

The Oak National Academy(by Teachers)

Chatterpack(primary and secondary)

Twinkl – free learning packs for parents  (primary)

www.educationquizzes.com (primary and secondary)

www.oxfordowl.co.uk (primary)

www.teachitprimary.co.uk (primary) Free packs for a limited period

Useful links for emotional health and wellbeing

General support and advice for young people around mental health issues:

ChatHealth –  young people 11-19 can text a school nurse on 07507 333356 (for advice on a range of issues including; sexual health, drugs, self-harm, bullying)

4YP – local charity organisation supporting young people 12-25 with social, emotional and physical health and wellbeing in Suffolk (drop-ins and counselling)

Kooth – online counselling and emotional wellbeing support service for young people in Suffolk aged 11 to 18

Moodwise – digital tools and resources to support young people’s emotional wellbeing

Suffolk MIND

Young Minds – young people in crisis can text: YM to 85258

Related information

Video for younger children or those with learning disabilities to explain PPE

Suffolk Local Offer COVID-19 – supporting Children’s wellbeing and learning

Psychology and therapeutic services and the specialist education services – COVID updates and resources

Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families – COVID-19 support resources

Contact – information about COVID-19 for families

Council for Disabled Children – COVID-19 support and guidance for parents and carers

Disabled Children’s Partnership – COVID-19 information and resources

IPSEA – COVID information

The Challenging Behaviour Foundation (for people with severe learning disabilities) – COVID-19 information for families

WellChild (the national charity for sick children)