COVID-19: Update

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schools update

Latest update for all schools March 26

dan barton

Dear All,

A short introduction from me today – first and foremost, to thank you all, and my colleagues in the Learning Improvement Service and across the wider Education and Skills area for all your continued hard work.

This has been a very long week; we are living in very difficult times, and there are more testing times ahead for us all. I am very clear that the strategic decisions which have been taken this week will directly contribute to the national effort to save lives and to look after our most vulnerable.

We will doubtless have some initial issues to resolve as hubs go live next week, but if we continue to work together in the way we are used to, I am confident that these will be limited; we’ll hold the line, and solve our problems together.

As we approach a time notionally still referred to as the weekend, I would encourage you all to find some time to switch off and look after yourselves and your families, hopefully in the sun.

Take care, thanks and best wishes,


Dan Barton, Assistant Director - Education and Skills
Cumbria County Council

Free school meals and Hub cleaning update

We continue to work closely with catering providers and Cumbria County Council strategic teams to ensure we are planning for the most effective provision possible for children who are eligible for FSM. We are exploring a range of options in anticipation of an imminent release of further guidance from the DfE. The forthcoming guidance has already been published in the national press but we have received no details as yet:

“Pupils are set to get weekly supermarket vouchers totalling £15 to replace their free school meal entitlements under a new national scheme, Schools Week understands…. However, it is still not known whether schools will be expected to provide meals for pupils over the Easter holidays. It has now been six days since schools were told the scheme was being developed.”
Schools Week, 25 March 2020

Our planning takes into account the range of questions we’ve received from Headteachers (voucher schemes, Easter provision, Ever 6 and Universal FSM categories, arrangements with catering providers and reimbursement for additional costs) and these have been pivotal in guiding our discussions.

Until we receive the guidance from the DfE, we ask you to please continue to support your children and families in the same way you have been doing since last week. We know your work has been greatly appreciated by communities and your proactive approaches have been vital in a rapidly changing situation. The initial DfE guidance provides an indication of the unknown factors associated with this situation and the flexibility in which schools can therefore operate. Please continue with your good work and we will be in touch with further information as soon as we can provide this. General advisers will continue to work with hubs tomorrow to ensure arrangements are in place to feed all children attending your hubs without worry about costs and contracts.

We are also planning for the additional cleaning arrangements required in Hubs in line with health and safety guidance and will have this in place as soon as possible. 

Parental enquiries for childcare made to Hubs and Council

We are aware that some individual hubs are drafting their own communications to parents within their immediate family of schools. We will be sending out examplar letters you can use for this in communications tomorrow; you will receive these early in the day. 

The Council is also receiving a number of enquiries from parents who are key workers, not currently clear about where to send their children, who are looking for childcare. We are in the process of setting up a web page (more details to follow) which will outline exactly what is happening and how to request provision. Once we receive the enquiry, we will follow this process:

  • Web page will include an online application form to identify themselves as requiring childcare;
  • Once submitted, applications will be forwarded to the appropriate hub through LIS;
  • Hubs then contact parents to arrange for children to attend;
  • If the hub is unable to offer the childcare – the hubs will refer back to us to identify an alternative provider.

General advisers and officers will be securing relevant contact details for each hub which will enable communication beyond one individual. They will also support sharing of key information needed between schools and services to ensure capacity and needs can be met.

Please display this poster for visitors to your school

We have created a poster giving parents / carers who are attending school and childcare hubs clear instructions on hygiene and social distancing. We would be grateful if you could display these in areas where parents will be entering and leaving your hubs when collecting and dropping off their children.  Please click here to print poster.

News hubs added and risk assessment form available

Five more childcare hubs  have been identified today and their locations are listed below. 

This update is for school leaders and staff only. As we detail above, the intention is to develop a single access page for parents on our council website regarding hubs and to also publish updates for parents/carers on social media. Thanks once again to everyone who has worked to achieve this so quickly for the children and young people of Cumbria.

We have also now developed a risk assessment form which Hubs can complete themselves. Please click here to print the risk assessment form for Hubs and here for further safety advice.

We have developed a guidance document for hubs, together with some exemplar forms to support planning arrangements. 





Small Schools

Penny Bridge








Furness Academy (after Easter)


Reassurance for staff working in Hubs

As you know, there is a national shortage of hand sanitizer as a result of panic-buying and overuse during Covid-19. We are working hard to secure supplies, but will continue to reiterate the importance of hand-washing. Good hand-washing, with soap and warm water is a significantly better anti-viral measure than hand-sanitizer, as we know, and should be all of our practise in schools and in our homes. We will continue to advocate assertively for supplies of hand-sanitiser of course, and will make sure that our Childcare Hubs are designated as a priority service to receive this. More detail hopefully tomorrow on this.

Andy Knox, GP and Director of Population at Morecambe Bay NHS, has shared some great advice on staying safe in schools and early years settings, in a video on social media. In the short video he has some reassuring messages about the safety of staff and children in Hubs and also passes on his personal thanks to all the amazing Hub volunteers who are working so hard to keep schools open across Cumbria to support our NHS staff and key workers.  Click here to view Andy's video.

A reminder to complete our data collection form

It is essential that we monitor demand for childcare on a daily basis. Please ensure you continue complete our attendance data form each day and return to Cumbria County Council:



Please click here to see answers to your most common questions. FAQs will be updated daily.