Covid-19 Schools Frequently Asked Questions
Information for Parents and Carers booklet
We understand that during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, families are feeling worried about availability of support to help them care for their child/children in this time of uncertainty. We have outlined some frequently asked questions to help answer some concerns in this booklet and on this page below.
Find answers to questions on
- Free school meals
- School admissions
- Transport to school
- I am a Key Worker, can I get help with transport for my child to get to school?
- My child attends an Independent (Private School) and its closing what do I do?
- My school is making alternative arrangements for my child at another school – can I request my school stays open?
- How much am I expected to educate my child at home?
- Are there any additional online resources for adults and children with additional needs and learning difficulties?
- Will my child continue to access CAMHS?
- Am I a critical worker?
- Early Years and Provider Update
- Beware of scam emails
If you can't find the answer here a dedicated phone line and email address have been set up to help parents with all school related enquiries, including questions relating to Free School Meals Tel: 01452 426015 or email COVIDSchoolenquiries@gloucestershire.gov.uk
Free School Meals
My child is eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) how do I get the Free School Meal?
Please contact your school directly, they will be putting plans in place to either provide meals or arrange delivery of packed lunches to eligible children or arrange for supermarket vouchers to be issued. Your school will be able to advise what arrangements they are putting in place.
My income has now changed and I think I might be eligible for Free School Meals – how do I do this?
Please visit our website at:- www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals where you can apply on line and will receive an instant decision on your eligibility. If you are experiencing any problems with applying online please email the team with your full name, national insurance number and the child’s name and date of birth at:- email@example.com
Will I be getting hot or cold meals?
Initially we will be trying to use up stocks of food so as not to create excessive waste, and to give us time to implement our packed lunch service (more on that below). If you had a hot meal service before you should continue to receive one. Please be aware that this is not guaranteed and that many schools will start to provide a packed lunch.
Do I have to pay for a meal?
Meals will be charged for as they have previously. All FSM, (regardless of whether the pupil is attending school or not) and UISFM meals (taken in school) will be free. All others will be charged for.
What about allergens?
When you order your meals you need to identify any that have allergens and these will arrive labelled accordingly.
Will my FSM children receive a meal at home?
Yes. The Provider will provide your isolated FSM children with a packed lunch. Many schools are also starting to provide a ten day food parcel to reduce the requirement for a daily collection/delivery. Please contact your school to confirm when it will be available and any arrangements for it to be collected/delivered as appropriate.
Do my FSM children have to have a free meal?
No. If you do not wish to have a packed lunch or it is not practical to receive one then you can use the government vouchers wef 20 April. Please talk to your school about this.
How do you obtain meal vouchers?
The Department for Education (DfE) has recently announced additional funding for a supermarket voucher scheme, which will help schools to support families where they are not able to get Free School Meals to children through the council and Caterlink.
The Voucher scheme will start after the Easter break and will mean that schools can provide eligible families with supermarket vouchers for normal term time weeks, worth £3 per lunch per child (£15 per week) as an alternative to providing food. You will need to contact your school about whether the school is planning to continue to provide meals or that they will be organising vouchers instead of lunches from Monday 20 April.
What will happen in the future?
The overall plan is to remove catering staff from all school kitchens as per government guidelines in order to reduce contact. For those who continue to require meals to be provided, we will offer a delivered packed lunch service from 3-4 large production kitchens. The packed lunches will be delivered to your school and they will make arrangements for collection/delivery.
When can I expect a packed lunch service?
Packed lunches and food parcels have been in operation across the county during the w/c 23 March 2020. Food production is being improved to ensure a sustainable service from the w/c 30 March 2020.
Arrangements may change over the Easter school holiday period at some schools. Those schools that use Caterlink catering services will continue to offer free school meals/packed lunches/hampers however this may not be the case for all schools. For further information please make contact with your school direct.
What can I expect in my packed lunch?
Your packed lunch will comprise of four items:
- A sandwich or baguette.
The food parcel is comprised of (Please note that there may be substitutions dependent on availability).
|Item||Pack size||Number of items|
|Baked Beans||415g||1 tin|
|Tinned fruit||822g||1 tin|
|Wholemeal Pasta||500g||1 packet|
|Tinned Soup||400g||1 tin|
|UHT Millk||1 litre||1 bottle|
|Cheese (long life)||80g||1 portion|
|Fresh Sliced Bread||800g||1 loaf|
|Eggs||Medium||Half a dozen|
|Tinned Tomatoes||415g||1 tin|
|Fresh Fruit||-||2 items|
|Jacket Potatoes||-||2 potatoes|
My child is due to start secondary school in September 2020 – and I am waiting for the outcome of the second round allocations at the end of March – is this is still on target?
The team are working on the allocations and letters will be sent out to parents who requested to go on waiting lists by 27th March. If you have any queries the team can be contacted via email:-firstname.lastname@example.org
National offer day for primary allocations is 16 April 2020 – will I still be able to find out my school allocation?
The team is currently working hard to meet the allocation day deadline – currently the team is on track and those parents who applied on line will be able to view your allocated school via the online portal. Parents should also receive an email on the 16 April confirming their allocation. The team are hoping to post out letters to those families who did not apply using the online system at the same time.
I have purchased an annual bus ticket from a private bus company to take my child to school – how do I get a refund now that the bus ticket is not being used?
Unfortunately any arrangement between a parent and private bus company offering home to school transport will need to be taken up with the company direct. The council is unable to get involved with any arrangements with a private company.
If you are a critical Key Worker and you have a concern about getting your child to or from school because of your work requirements or shift patterns, please email your circumstances to COVIDschoolenquiries@gloucestershire.gov.uk and someone will be in touch to discuss further.
The government expects private and independent schools to remain open to support the children of critical key workers and vulnerable children. If your school is closing, you must raise this matter with the school direct as they must make arrangements for your child.
My school is making alternative arrangements for my child at another school – can I request my school stays open?
Schools are working really hard with limited staff and resources to maintain provision and remain operational to support key worker families. As time moves forward it is possible that more staff will be needing to self-isolate. With the low numbers of children in some locations, schools are already contingency planning and will be looking to consolidate provision into locality Hubs so that they can share staff resources to ensure a provision is available for key workers. We therefore cannot guarantee that your school will remain open throughout the COVID response period however we can ensure a place is available for eligible children in your locality.
Several parents have asked for advice on how to manage home learning.
Many schools have provided educational activities that your child/children might do. However, it is also important that you and your family balance home learning with other activities that will keep your children happy and occupied in a healthy and balanced way. You are the best judge of what they need whilst they are in your care at home. It is important to provide enjoyable and relaxing things to do – reading and researching, creative activities, physical exercise, simply chatting and watching films. It is helpful to create a routine for children so that their minds are kept active with interesting tasks and challenges, however, you do not need to try to replicate a school timetable. Focus on what you can do as a closely confined family and how to get on.
If you feel that your child is under pressure to complete a lot of online learning tasks, please contact the school for advice on how to manage this. It isn’t clear how long the isolation requirement will be in place, and so schools will be doing all they can to help keep your child actively engaged during this time, in readiness for their return to school. Schools want to ensure that they are supporting you as a family and offering your children every opportunity to stay connected to their learning, whatever age they are.
Are there any additional online resources for adults and children with additional needs and learning difficulties?
Photosymbols have launched new easy read website on Coronavirus for people with learning disabilities.
There is a Facebook page for people to keep connected with others;
There is an easy read version of the Prime Ministers letter https://www.keepsafe.org.uk/pm-letter
Cards for Zoom meetings
Over the coming weeks they are continuing to offer services but will need to focus on urgent or priority care. CAMHS are managing the care for children who are in the middle of treatment on an individual basis, based on clinical need. CAMHS will continue to work with children, young people and families by telephone, video consultation and face to face if needed. In addition, the services will be offering advice lines, available Monday to Friday.
Early Years and Nursery Provider Update
Do schools and early years setting have to close?
The DfE have stated that schools will shut their gates on Friday afternoon (20th March) and remain closed until further notice except for children of key workers and vulnerable children (those with Social Workers and EHCPs) , as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus. They expect Early Years and Further Education settings to do the same.
I am a critical Key Worker, what should I do if my early years setting closes?
If you are Key Worker based on the gov.uk list and you have no other means of childcare, or your child has an EHCP or a Social Worker, you will need to find an alternative childcare provider if your usual provider is closed. Your usual setting should be able to signpost you to other settings in the area however, if you need further support to find childcare please contact email@example.com
I have already paid for childcare in advance and my provider is closing, what can I do?
If you have already paid childcare fees in advance to your existing provider and they are not able to continue to provide childcare, parents should discuss the options of receiving a refund in order for them to pay another provider. Some settings will be covered by insurance policies enabling a refund in some circumstances.
For those Key Worker parents who cannot be refunded, GCC will cover the cost of their childcare at an alternative provider, excluding Independent School Nurseries. The parent and the nursery should contact the EY Service to discuss funding where needed firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens about childcare fees at another setting?
If an eligible child attends an Early Years setting and this setting is funded for 15 or 30 hours, but the child now needs to move to another setting, the funding can not be transferred from one setting to another. Please note GCC will ensure that this is taken into account when making funding payments to the new setting. The setting that the child is moving to should contact the EY Service for clarification where needed.
Be aware of scam emails
We have been informed that some parents have received an email stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’.
We can confirm that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond, and delete it immediately.