Last updated: 31 August 2022
This page is regularly updated with the latest advice and guidance that aims to support children, young people and their families to continue to access services and education as we move through the current pandemic.
The Department for Education SEND division have updated and refreshed their guidance for Special schools and other specialist settings to reflect the changing restrictions and provide current advice on settings and accessing education and services.
In the next section we highlight key changes and updates you need to know.
Clinically Extremely Vulnerable
- All Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) children and young people are no longer advised to shield. However, you should continue to follow the guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and are advised to take additional precautions to protect them.
- All CEV children and young people should attend their education setting unless they are one of the very small number of children and young people under paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend.
Vaccinations for children and young people
- On 18 August 2022, the NHS published an update for the autumn COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine programme. This update confirms that those who are 5 years and over and are on their GP Learning Disability Register will be invited for the autumn COVID-19 booster, carers will also be eligible.
- From 31 January 2022, the NHS vaccination programme will begin to roll out to children aged between 5 and 11 who are most at risk of covid-19.
Children aged 5 -11 who are in a clinical risk group or who live with someone who is in immunosuppressed will be able to get the first dose of the covid vaccine in line with advice set out by the JCVI.
There are around 500,000 eligible children in the latest cohort. Eligible children include those with diabetes, immunosuppression, learning disabilities, and other conditions as outlined by the UK Health Security Agency in the Green Book.
Parents and carers should wait for the NHS to contact them for when it is their child’s turn to get the vaccine with local NHS teams already contacting those who are eligible.
All eligible 5-11 year olds will be offered two 10 microgram doses of the Pfizer vaccine eight weeks apart – a third of the amount used for adult vaccinations.
Young people aged 16 and 17 can now go to the NHS website to book their booster appointment in advance two months (61 days) after their second dose.
- Children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
- The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.
Under existing advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered vaccination.
Young people aged 16 to 17 years, who are employed in, studying or in training for health and social care work will also continue to be eligible for vaccination.
Please see JCVIs statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years here.
Testing, isolation & close contacts
Free testing for the general public ended on 1 April as part of the Living with COVID plan which last month set out the government’s strategy to live with and manage the virus.
- People at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, and eligible for treatments, will continue to get free tests to use if they develop symptoms, along with NHS and adult social care staff and those in other high-risk settings.
- From 1 April, anyone with a positive COVID-19 test result is advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days, which is when they are most infectious. Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
- Public health advice for People with COVID-19 and their contacts changed from 24 February. Contacts are no longer required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests, and contact tracing has ended.
- Children and young people who usually attend an education or childcare setting and who live with someone who has COVID-19 should continue to attend the setting as normal.
Face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, students, staff and visitors in classrooms or communal areas. Staff and pupils should follow wider advice on face coverings outside of school, including on transport to and from school or college
Important things to remember
You should follow the rules on living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19 to protect yourself and others.
You should attend school or college as normal, unless you are self-isolating.
The Department for Education COVID-19 helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) is available to answer any questions you have about COVID-19 relating to education settings and children’s social care.
Special school guidance - what happens if my child can't attend school because of Coronvirus?
SEND and specialist settings are required to provide remote education and pastoral support to pupils who are unable to attend school on-site because they are self-isolating. There may be additional challenges that some children and young people with SEND will experience in accessing remote education. Specialist settings should work with parent /families/ carers to support children and young people with complex needs to access appropriate remote learning and support where they are not able to be in school or college.
Read more details here.
What does it mean for local authorities and short break providers?
Wraparound and extra curricular support providers will continue with operations as before.
Parents or carers of disabled children may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled child. Further information on this is available at guidance for children’s social care services.
As provision continues, we continue to refer you to our useful resources and learning examples on short breaks.
You can download our briefing for local authorities Short Breaks for Disabled Children: A Legal Guide which sets out the relevant legal duties which remain relevant outside of the previous restrictions.
We also present our series of learning examples on short break provision during lockdown periods, which provide some useful advice and creative practice. You can read those here.
A key message from all providers that we heard from in relation to the learning examples was that risk assessments should be used as an enabler to providing support rather than a barrier. This message is still as relevant in this four step period as it is in national restrictions.
“Risk assessment which supports effective risk management and creative thinking led to different approaches to face-to-face support rather than support being withdrawn especially for children, young people and families who were particularly vulnerable or at high risk of going into crisis during the pandemic.”