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24 March 2020 00:31

UK lockdown Stacey Solomon Loose Women

Schools chaos as headteachers face 'life and death' decisions over key workers in coronavirus crisis

Children of key workers are reportedly being turned away from the school gates today - the first working day after they closed their doors to help stop the spread of coronavirus. "My appeal to the parents of these children is that if you are a key worker and can have them looked after away from school please do so'." Firefighter Mark Atkinson tweeted Gov UK saying: "Hello, I'm a key worker and my child was refused entry to school today. Another said: "5 sets of parents will be getting questioned regarding their 'key worker status' at the school gates where my wife works today. "Lots of parents 'claiming to be a key workers saying 'I cant concentrate at home so the kids need a place at school! "My wife and her colleagues have been verbally abused by parents of non key worker's demanding their children are in school.

"We all want children who can safely stay at home to be there, while teachers look after the most vulnerable and children of key workers. While Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said initial feedback from members indicates that parents have listened to calls to use schools only when they have no option to keep children at home. The Government said children of so-called key workers - including medics, police and food distribution staff - are able to attend school so they can be looked after while their parents help in the fight against the virus. Guidance, issued on Friday, listed the relevant occupations and said children with "at least one parent or carer" who is considered critical "can attend school if required". He said parents need to be prepared that schools will have to prioritise and that not every child will get a place, a sentiment echoed by the National Education Union (NEU).

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "If your work is not critical in the response to coronavirus then please keep your child at home. NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said it is "imperative" that different agencies understand who is responsible for children at home and added that social workers "will need continued support and resources to support those in isolation". SCOTLAND'S food producers have urged the devolved government to provide clarity, in line with the rest of the UK, over which members of staff can be defined as key workers. At present, some local authorities have recognised the priority of food supply under category two of the key worker designation (and therefore still critical), but many have not. 'Many local authorities are still working on and reviewing their lists of key workers and we urge them, to help keep fresh food supplies available, to recognise the importance of those who work in essential fish farming roles.' Andrew Richards, headteacher of Grimley and Holt C of E Primary School, said: "We are open for very few, but very critical, key workers' children.

Teachers and staff have worked around the clock, getting information ready for home working, preparing children for distant learning and also setting up this provision for critical key workers. "We had to move quickly to plan for this week and at present all three schools are offering ongoing education support for key workers and vulnerable children. Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: "Teachers, school leaders and support staff are on the front line, looking after the children of key workers and vulnerable children. Schools have been ordered to stay open this week only for the most vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers. A Pets At Home spokesman said: "The letter we shared with colleagues was simply intended to help them, and teachers at their children's schools, understand what we believe to be the government guidelines.

Mark Neilson, a microbiologist from Bury South, said he and his wife are both biomedical scientists who work in a lab that processes coronavirus test results, but their children have been denied school places on the basis that they do not meet the definition of "key workers". The Department for Education has just issued further guidance (see below) on which legal practitioners come within the limited category of key workers whose children may continue to attend school or nursery whilst they deliver essential services in this time of crisis. The Government's guidance makes clear that, even if you are a key worker, if your child can be looked after at home, they should be. In the current climate, schools are open as places of safety, for the few children who cannot safely be looked after at home, because those caring from them are key workers doing essential work. Barristers should decide for themselves whether they fall within the category of key worker and, if so, whether they can nevertheless keep their children at home or need to send them to school.

NEW MINISTRY OF JUSTICE GUIDANCE: Clarification on legal practitioners covered by key worker category For the limited time required to deliver this work, a legal practitioner will be a key worker. As the Government has said, many parents who are key workers may be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child that can safely be cared for at home, should be.