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COVID-19 Crisis


COVID-19 Critical Worker Response



During the Coronavirus outbreak, if you are self-isolating or unable to leave your home, we’re here to help you to stay safe, stay well and stay connected.

The Hartlepool Support Hub offers:

You can contact the Support Hub by:

01429 272905 (10am-4pm Mondays to Fridays and 10am-12 noon Saturdays)

helping@hartlepool.gov.uk (Please provide your contact details and we will get back to you)

There is also lots of information available at www.hartlepoolnow.co.uk, and via the Hartlepool Now App, available on the App Store and Google Play.

If you would like to volunteer to support your local community, you can contact us using the same details (call 01429 272905 or e-mail helping@hartlepool.gov.uk) and we will let you know what you can do to help.

Some of our residents will receive a letter advising them to self-isolate for a period of 12 weeks and that they can ask for support for food supplies if they need it. This will be co-ordinated at a local level by the Hartlepool Support Hub – but our hub services go further than that and are for all those choosing to self-isolate.

Open Letter to Children and Young People with SEND, their Parents, Families and Others who Support them from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

24 March 2020

Dear colleagues,

This is an open letter distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could circulate it as widely as possible to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.

This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.

This is why, over the past week, we have made announcements and issued guidance about how we will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time. As the Minister responsible for SEND, I wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.

We are working in partnership with many organisations, including the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and the Council for Disabled Children, to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. In all our decisions, the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups, are at the forefront of our minds.

The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people. We have also published new guidance that provides household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them. This guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.

The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.

If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is, however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this time in order to help reduce transmission rates.

On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the form of the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak (https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/coronavirus.html).

Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.

In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID-19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike the right balance in these difficult times.

I encourage you to keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages, and raise awareness of the DfE Coronavirus helpline we have established for local authorities, providers and parents to get information on the latest Government advice. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).

I realise that the impact of these extraordinary circumstances on this group of children and young people can be particularly acute. This is why I have asked the Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to ensure that their websites and forums regularly update both families and services on information, which is available to support them. I have also asked them to collate any questions and queries from stakeholders so that we can maintain as many routes of contact as possible into Government to ensure our actions continue to be focused on prioritising where help is most needed.

The challenges we are now facing serve to further highlight the importance of ensuring the system of support for children and young people with SEND is as effective as possible in the future. Rest assured that completing our review of the SEND system remains a priority for me and for the Government. In light of the current situation, we will think carefully about the right way and timescale to do this. Right now my focus, like yours, is on managing the current situation and keeping vulnerable children safe and supported.

I know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.

Yours sincerely,
Vicky Ford MP

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families

Thank You Letter to Practitioners - Gavin Willamson MP

Over recent days, the Government has taken steps that are simply unprecedented in the history of this country. The decision to close all schools, except to a minority of pupils, is an essential part of our fight against the spread of Covid-1 9. I have enormous appreciation for the work you do every single day and recognise that, with these extraordinary measures, I am asking you to go to exceptional lengths to rise to the challenge we face.

The weeks and months ahead will undoubtedly be testing for everyone. As we move further into unchartered waters, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude for the absolutely vital service that you are providing for our children, young people and communities. By maintaining school provision for those who need it most, leaders of our schools and colleges — and your staff - rightly take their place next to our NHS staff and other critical workers as central to our country’s efforts in battling this virus.

Thank you for stepping up to this challenge with such dedication and determination. know that you have moved quickly to implement last week’s announcement. Over the last few days, I have heard extraordinary examples of school leaders and teachers responding with flexibility, pragmatism and creativity — demonstrating true civic spirit in unparalleled circumstances. Thanks to you, and particularly those of you working in our special schools, our most vulnerable children and young people will still have the support, care and constancy of school environments if they need it. You are also the reason critical workers across the country can continue to deliver the crucial frontline services that are central to our national effort to tackle Covid-19.

I know this Will be a difficult time. I’m aware that the challenge of delivering these measures sits alongside considerations about your own health and that of your families. I recognise that you will also be anxious about the wellbeing of your staff and about the longer-term impact of this crisis on the children and young people you care for and educate every single day. We have published initial guidance on how best to keep your staff and students safe, and will continue to work with the sector to answer your concerns. I will do everything in my power to support you.

On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire Government, thank you once again for all your work.

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP - Secretary of State for Education

Message from the Diocese of Hexham

26 March 2020

Dear Headteacher and Staff

It was a year ago yesterday that I was installed as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle and exactly a year ago today that I had the pleasure of meeting you and your pupils at the special event at St Mary’s Cathedral. I remember that day with fondness. I was moved by the welcome and by the gifts that I received. To be warmly welcomed by the Diocesan family of schools in such a way and to see first-hand your commitment to the mission of the Catholic education within the Diocese was overwhelming.

With the emergence and spread of COVID-19, we are now all facing a significant and unprecedented challenge. Public Mass and worship have ceased. People are being advised by the government to socially distance themselves where possible, or to self-isolate. Headteachers and school staff have found themselves to be integral to the collective response to the virus, to the support of vulnerable children, and to the maintenance of the provision of public services and the NHS.

I have been kept informed by Deborah Fox of the expectations that have been put on you and of the very generous and selfless ways in which you and those in our school communities have responded. I am especially proud of the efforts that have been made to support the most vulnerable children and families in our school communities and beyond. These actions are a real testimony to our Catholic faith.

I would like to encourage you and to affirm you at this very difficult time. Please be assured of my prayers and spiritual support as you face the daily challenges. I pray that you, your family and loved ones, and all in our school communities stay safe and experience the presence of God at this time.

With every good wish and blessing

Rt Rev Robert Byrne CO - Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle

Documents Available for Download

Starfish DayCare Fees During COVID-19 (PDF Document)


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