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14.05.2020 | By paul_simpson

Proposed opening of schools in England – implications for deaf pupils – NDCS update

Posted in News

The NDCS has updated its professional information blog about the impact of the coronavirus following announcements from the Department of Education about the phased opening of schools and other settings.

The updated page is here: https://www.ndcs.org.uk/blog/coronavirus-and-support-for-deaf-children-information-for-professionals/

Here is the new information:

Closures of schools and other education settings
The Governments across the UK have announced partial or full closures of nurseries, schools, colleges and universities to help limit the spread of coronavirus. The different governments are taking different approaches to the re-opening of schools, as set out below.
Currently, schools are remaining open, as much as possible, for children of key workers and children who are the most vulnerable.
The definition of ‘vulnerable’ children includes those who have an Education, Health and Care plan. Previously, Government advice was that these children should only attend school if they had significant other needs that meant they could not be safely cared for at home. This advice has now changed and the Government now expects and encourages all ‘vulnerable’ children to start to return to school now, where appropriate.
The Government has asked education settings to prepare for a phased re-opening from the 1st June for other pupils, as follows:
·       All early year settings – although some may need to impose a cap on the numbers who can attend.
·       Primary aged pupils who are in reception year, year 1 or year 6. The Government has indicated that it hopes to allow other primary aged pupils return to school before the end of June.
·       Pupils who are in year 10 or 12 will not be returning to school or college full-time – but they may be asked to return for some face-to-face time to support their home learning. This is to help them prepare for exams next year.
·       Special schools or colleges will be asked to re-open to all pupils as they see fit.
The above is subject to change. If there is a change in the spread of coronavirus, the Government may delay its plans. In addition, education settings may decide, following a risk assessment, that it is not safe for children to return to their setting at this time.
In order to limit the spread of coronavirus and keep children and teachers safe, children can expect some changes when they return. These include:
·       Class sizes will be reduced to smaller groups of no more than 15. Some groups may be led by a teaching assistant, working under the supervision of a teacher.
·       There will be limited mixing of groups within the school. Break times are likely to be staggered.
·       Classroom layouts may change.
·       Drop-off and pick-up times are also likely to be staggered.
·       Children will be expected to wash their hands regularly and follow new rules around social distancing.
·       Some teachers and teaching assistants may not be able to return to school if they have medical conditions which mean they’re more vulnerable to coronavirus.
The use of face masks in education settings is not recommended by the Government. Exceptions to this are if a child has personal care needs which means protective equipment would normally be used anyway, or if a child develops coronavirus symptoms whilst at school.
We anticipate that there may also be changes to how deaf children receive specialist support. We also recognise that there will be challenges in how peripatetic Teachers of the Deaf can carry out face-to-face visits in the same way that they did before, and support and advice may need to be provided remotely instead to schools and deaf children. We encourage parents, schools and Teachers of the Deaf to discuss how any return to school will work in practice and how deaf children will be supported. Whilst we recognise the challenges in this area, we encourage professionals to continue to be creative and flexible in ensuring that deaf children receive the support they need, as much as possible.
Even if deaf children falls into the category of those who can return to school, they should not attend school if:
·       They are displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
·       They have a medical condition which means they’ve been asked to ‘shield’ from others.
·       Someone in their house has been asked to shield, and there is a concern that the child will not be able to follow or understand rules around social distancing.
Our advice to families is that if they are concerned that their child should not be attending school for health reasons, they should seek medical advice and discuss your concerns with the education setting.
More information is available in the following government guidance:
The above is for England only – schools in NI, Wales and Scotland remain closed for the foreseeable future.
The BATOD Steering Group is meeting this weekend to discuss the implications of these possible changes on QToDs, deaf children and young people and their families and will issue more information next week.