Norfolk County Council supporting schools to prepare for closure
18 March 2020
Norfolk County Council is working to support schools and academies following the government’s direction that all schools should close from Friday afternoon [March 20], amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Norfolk’s schools have been working hard to stay open and continue lessons as more staff have been isolating but today 20 schools faced full or partial closures because of staff shortages.
This evening [March 18] Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, announced that all schools would close from Friday.
Norfolk County Council’s role is to ensure child safeguarding, continuity of education and civil contingency. Schools will remain open for the children of key workers and those children who are the most vulnerable. Examples include NHS staff, delivery drivers and children with a social worker or Education, Health and Care Plan.
The council is awaiting further detail of who is defined as a key worker and will update its website regularly with further information.
Chris Snudden, Director for Education and Learning at Norfolk County Council, said: “We’d like to thank Norfolk’s headteachers, principals and teachers for the tremendous work they are doing in really challenging circumstances.
“We’ve provided a range of advice and support to schools in recent weeks and been helping them to plan for any government directed closure.
“The closure of schools does not mean the end of children’s education – the expectation is that schools continue to set work for children and teach their pupils remotely as much as they possibly can.
“The ask from the government is that schools stay open to support childcare for key workers – those in the health service, emergency services or others that play a key role in supporting vital services in these difficult times.
“We know that Norfolk’s schools and their dedicated teachers will rise to this challenge and we are here to help and support in whatever way we can.”
Schools and academies had been planning for potential closure and will communicate their plans with parents via their usual routes. This will include how they will set work and how parents can support their children’s learning.
The council is awaiting guidance from the government on how to support children entitled to free school meals. However, it has contingency plans in plan should these be needed.
Sarah Shirras, joint Chair of Educate Norfolk, said: “We have been preparing for potential closure, alongside a range of agencies, to make sure that children continue to get access to education and support. Schools have their own individual plans, which they will be sharing with parents over the coming days.
“Schools and academies will be vital in providing childcare to families whose parents are key workers, across a range of services and professions. We will be working together to help those parents continue to work over the coming weeks.”
The latest government information on coronavirus, including guidance for education providers, is available from GOV.UK.