Social work and social care staff on list of workers whose children can go to school during Covid-19 crisis

'Critical worker' definition will include those working across health and social care sectors, as well as charity employees, government guidance says

Image of empty classroom with chairs on desks (credit: miriristic / Adobe Stock)
(credit: miriristic / Adobe Stock)

Staff across adults’ and children’s services are included in a government list of key workers whose children can continue to attend school during closures caused by the coronavirus crisis, due to start today.

The guidance on who qualifies as a ‘critical worker’, which was published overnight by the Department for Education, does not include an exhaustive list of job titles.

But it makes specific provision for “social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers”.

It makes a separate mention of social workers who work with children.

‘One parent’ rule

The document also references support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector, and people working as part of the health and social care supply chain.

Staff responsible for “key public services” are also on the list, which includes those “essential to the running of charities”.

As well as the health workers who will be at the sharp end of caring for those who fall critically ill during the anticipated spike in coronavirus infections, the government includes a range of other crucial occupations on its list of key workers. These include police and security staff, transport operatives, people involved in the production and sale of food, government administrative workers and those employed in utilities, communication and financial services.

The guidance confirms that, contrary to rumours circulating on social media yesterday, only one of a child’s parents need be a key worker in order to qualify for them to continue to attend school during the Covid-19 outbreak.

But it adds that if children can be kept safely at home, they should be, to minimise the spread of the virus.

The closures due to start today cover children at registered childcare providers, including nurseries and childminders, primary and secondary schools – including independent schools – and further education colleges.

‘Vulnerable’ children expectation

Besides social work and social care staff, the guidance also issues more detail about ‘vulnerable’ children for whom school provision is expected to continue.

The definition includes all children supported by social care, including those on child in need and child protection plans, looked-after children, children with disabilities, and children with education, health and care plans.

The plan has drawn a range of criticism, including around its potential for heightening stigma experienced by children, and for putting the health of foster and kinship carers at risk.

The DfE guidance also says that for children who currently get free school meals, a national voucher system will be put in place “as soon as possible”. In the meantime it says the government will reimburse schools who continue to provide meals or vouchers for children.

5 Responses to Social work and social care staff on list of workers whose children can go to school during Covid-19 crisis

  1. Sarah Austin March 20, 2020 at 3:20 pm #

    What happens if my vulnerable child (autistic with an EHCP) has been refused entry to school at this time due to insufficient staff? I am also a key worker – not high priority but work in financial services, providing daily funding to hundreds of businesses. Where can I go from here surely this is not right and contradicting the government announcement.

  2. Derek jones March 23, 2020 at 10:13 am #

    If you have a child that needs 24/7 care can your other children go to school under the guidelines

  3. Larisa Cristina Prejban March 23, 2020 at 9:55 pm #

    I’m a social worker and I’m afraid to go at work, I see the maternal centre is not close.
    What we should do in this case, I want to self isolate but I can’t receive the 80 pro cent. I don’t know how we can protect as a key workers.

  4. Chris Edwards March 26, 2020 at 9:41 am #

    I work for a local authority children’s home.
    So our children will be expected to attend school (of whom two go to Mainstream).
    Brilliant job in further making them feel different than the ‘others’.

  5. Nusrat Parveen March 26, 2020 at 12:12 pm #

    I work as care assistant I look after 15 year old girl 2 hours in morning and 2 hours after school now school are closed both parents of her are NOT critical worker they are at home with her and other family members
    They want me to still come to work I am main cater for my husband who has stage 5 crohnic kidney disease and I am match kidney donor we should have had Opreation in April it’s been cancelled due too Coronavirus
    Do I need to go to work can I get paid if I am off

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