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Praise for Norfolk's schools and academies as school closure plans gain pace

21 March 2020

Education leaders across Norfolk have been working round-the-clock to prepare for the closure of Norfolk’s schools and early years settings.

From Monday, schools will remain open to provide care to the most vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

There are 422 schools in the county and education leaders have been working day and night to put a plan in place that will ensure children across the county are safe, have continuity of education and that vital services can continue to run.

Sara Tough, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said: “School leaders, teachers and governors are doing fantastic work in the most testing of circumstances. Their role is vital in the national effort to fight this disease.

“We’re working closely with headteachers, principals and governors to plan for coming days and weeks – the scale of this task cannot be under estimated and the situation is unprecedented. We will be working throughout the weekend to support schools and academies with this.

“Our priority is ensuring children are safe and the most vulnerable children have the support and care they need. Norfolk’s schools are rising to the challenge and doing the very best they can but there is no simple solution to managing this task in a rural county the size of Norfolk.”

The County Council is advising families to check its website www.norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus for updates and to check school websites and social media posts for the latest information.

It is likely that plans will be finalised over the weekend, as the Council collates data on how many school places are needed and which schools have enough staff to safely stay open.

Education leaders will be working over the weekend, so that they can notify parents if their child has a place at school. Parents are asked not to send their children to school if they don’t get a place, even if they disagree. They will be able to discuss this decision with the school once the school has reopened next week.

The Council is working with schools to plan place numbers, so it may be that the Council can find a place at another school, if the child is eligible and the family cannot look after the child at home.

The Council will be looking to redeploy staff as and where they are needed.

Schools will only fully close if they do not have enough staff to safely open or they have to close for a deep clean. In these situations, children who are eligible for a place will receive transport to a different venue.

In some cases, where children have specialist needs, schools are planning to carry out home visits, rather than open their schools.

Schools will be making local plans for children who are eligible for free school meals.

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