Some schools will reopen following government guidance and they should run differently because of coronavirus. For example, they may have different staff or safety measures, such as smaller classes and social distancing.
If you’re in local lockdown, the rules may be different in your area.
The school and local authority should work with you to make an informed decision about your child’s return. They must carry out a risk assessment if your child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) or complex needs. This can include children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) support but no EHCP.
Guidelines are also different in England and Wales, so some schools may return earlier than others. If your child travels across the border to school, check with your local authority to make sure you are not breaking any rules.
You might worry about sending your child back to school, especially if they have special educational needs. Your child's school may already be doing risk assessments and have some measures in place to welcome children back.
Local authorities and schools must do their best to provide your child's EHCP provision or reasonable alternatives. What they can offer will depend on:
how the school is running during coronavirus
your child's needs
All schools must document what they’re doing to support children with SEN during lockdown, including EHCP provision. They should do this with you as parents, whether your child is returning to school or not.
Ask for a copy of the risk assessment or the school’s plan for preparing to open. Contact your school by phone or email if they have not been in touch.
Organise a video call with your child’s SENCO, ALNCO or teachers to discuss their return to school. If English is not your first language or you use British Sign Language (BSL), ask what support is available for you to arrange a meeting so that you’re comfortable.
You may want to ask:
what safety measures will be in place, like personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing
which staff will work with your child and how they can get to know them before returning
if transport will be available, for example if your child usually takes the school bus
what other differences your child should expect
how they think your child will respond to these differences
what you can do to prepare your child for returning to school
If your child is older, ask if they want to be on the call with you. Let the school know if they do, and if they have specific worries or triggers at the moment.
No one knows your child and how they respond to change better than you. Once you know what the changes are, it can help to share these with your child so they know what to expect. You could try a few different ways, depending on your child's needs. For example:
use drawings to show them how their classroom may look
show them photos of new staff
show them handwashing, social distancing and other safety measures
show them face masks and gloves so they’re familiar with them
tell them about their new routine or create a visual timetable, including what time they’ll get up, how they’ll get to school, lunch time and returning home
ask them about any worries they have if they’re anxious about returning
If you have an older child, they may have different concerns about their return to school. For example, pressure from friends to go outside when they should be shielding. Ask them about their worries and reassure them that you’ll help them adapt as things change.