Statement from the Education Secretary
COVID-19 Emergency Bill
Information was released yesterday on the COVID-19 Emergency Bill, which is to be published later this week. The Bill will include:
|A power to remove or relax some requirements around education and childcare legislation in order to help these institutions run effectively in the event of an emergency a power to require schools, further education and childcare settings to stay open or re-open, operate in ways to support continued education and childcare such as enable pupils / students to attend different premises, to enhance resilience of childcare and education sector a power to close educational institutions or childcare providers. This will happen only where necessary and proportionate, to help minimise disruption to everyday life. The measures would only be put in place for the period of time required to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak powers to bring additional social workers onto the register of social workers held by the regulator, Social Work England|
The measures in the Bill are temporary, proportionate to the risks, will only be used when strictly necessary and will be in place only for as long as required to respond to the situation.
This Bill will ensure the government has the powers it needs, when it needs them, to allow our vital public services to keep functioning and to save lives.
Further detail will be available when the Bill is published later this week.
Updated advice for non-essential travel worldwide
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice takes effect immediately (from 17 March) and applies initially for a period of 30 days.
The latest travel guidance can be found here:
Funding for free childcare offers to continue in the event of coronavirus closures
Yesterday, the Chancellor has confirmed the Government will continue to pay for free early years entitlement places even if settings are closed on the advice of Public Health England or children are not able to attend due to coronavirus. We expect local authorities to follow the Department’s position, and to continue early entitlements funding for all childminders, schools and nurseries. We will not be asking for funding back from local authorities.
The Government’s advice remains that childcare settings should stay open unless advised otherwise by Public Health England, and yesterday’s announcement should help settings to continue to do so. This will minimise both longer-term disruption to parents and any income losses that providers may otherwise experience.
The full statement can be found here:
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.
Watch this short NHS film for guidance:
Department for Education coronavirus helpline
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)
Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls. We appreciate your patience at this time and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible, we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends and are increasing the number of call handlers available to answer your calls.
If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.
New guidance for households with symptoms
Yesterday, the Government introduced new guidance on whole household isolation in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak:
|if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms startedif you live with others and you or another member of the household have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the communityfor anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.|
The symptoms are:
|A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)A new, continuous cough|
The full stay at home guidance for households with these symptoms can be found here:
The Prime Minister’s statement from Monday 16 March can be found here: