Coronavirus: staffing and school opening hours
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Guidance for schools on closure
The Department for Education (DfE) has published guidance for schools about closing temporarily. It includes a range of FAQs which outline details on staffing and opening hours for schools. We expect more detailed guidance to be published soon and will update this article accordingly.
How many teachers will be needed to keep schools open?
Schools should discuss this with their local authority or trust when making decisions about school capacity.
What is expected of schools in terms of opening hours?
We expect schools to operate as close as possible to their normal hours. Where possible, we would encourage breakfast club and after school provision to help support the children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response.
Will teachers continue to be paid?
Yes. Teachers will continue to be paid during this period as normal.
When will teachers take holiday?
We understand that this is a very difficult time, and we are asking a lot of them, and all school staff, to help the country fight this virus. We know the school leaders and local authorities will make sensible decisions on staffing and what breaks will be needed, but we are asking schools, wherever possible, to maintain provision for children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response over the Easter holidays.
Will teachers have to work in alternative settings?
Once schools have assessed their demand and capacity, any schools experiencing high demand should liaise with their local authority to establish whether any pupils or teachers need to be moved to an alternative setting. Any schools which are unable to stay open should liaise with their local authority about teachers providing support elsewhere. Teachers and other school staff should continue to be paid by their school as normal, wherever they are working.
What public health advice should schools follow?
Schools should continue to follow the advice from Public Health England on hand washing and other measures to limit the risk of coronavirus.
Can schools flex on legal requirements in order to deliver this service?
We are preparing legislation that will temporarily disapply or modify some requirements on schools to enable them to focus on this core new ask. Schools should focus on safeguarding duties as a priority. Where schools and trusts have concerns about the impact of staff absence – such as their Designated Safeguarding Lead or first raiders – they should discuss immediately with the local authority or trust.
Are schools expected to provide education as normal to pupils who are in attendance?
We understand that these are extraordinary times. The most important thing is that children of critical workers and vulnerable children are supervised and properly cared for at school. Emergency legislation will lift curriculum requirements for schools, giving flexibility to provide support, activities and education in the way they see fit.
Do schools need to provide educational support for pupils at home?
We recognise that may schools have already shared resources for children who are at home and are grateful for this. The DfE is working with the BBC and other partners to provide advice and support directly to parents, including online resources they can access for their children at home.
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