Education Planning Group: Schools Update... 12 November

Would you like to view this email in a web page? Click here

In today's update:

dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Despite the national lockdown this week has seen the highest level of demand yet placed on our education Outbreak Control Team responding to contact from schools.

As such, you may find that if your enquiry is not urgent you may have to wait longer for a response. Please be assured that we will get back to you, but we must prioritise situations where there is an immediate risk to the operation of the school.

There has been updated Public Health guidance issued this week and I would ask that schools ensure they are familiar with it.

The Outbreak Control team have been working incredibly hard since the start of term and we would hope that as the impact of the lockdown begins to be felt, that the demand on them will reduce.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience and your continued work to ensure Cumbrian young people receive the education they deserve, despite the pandemic.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education and Skills

Letter for parents/carers from Local Authority

Schools have requested that the Local Authority provide a letter for distribution to parents/carers explaining why schools are responding differently to outbreaks and incidents.

A letter has been drafted and can be downloaded from the link below. It is signed by Assistant Director Dan Barton and Director of Public Health Colin Cox.

It includes the previously circulated infographic explaining what action people should take in different COVID-19 related circumstances. This infographic clearly addresses many of the questions and challenges schools are receiving from families.


Flu vaccinations update

LA maintained schools

Vouchers are in the process of being mailed to maintained schools this week.

Academies and VA schools.

68 academies and VA schools requested flu vaccination vouchers. Vouchers will be mailed within the next seven days.

Vaccine availability at pharmacies

This year, there has been further expansion of the NHS ‘flu vaccination programme. This means that more people than ever are eligible for the vaccine through the NHS. Added to this, this year the early demand for ‘flu vaccine has been much higher than usual.

For these reasons, we are advising people to contact their local pharmacy before attending, in order to ensure that that they currently have vaccine available and to check to see if they will need to make an appointment.


Any general queries about flu vaccination should be directed to Only enquiries related to reimbursement of vaccinations costs should be sent to

Laptops for children with a social worker

There have been reports that some children with a social worker have not yet received a laptop to support home working, despite needing one.

In this situation, schools should liaise with the child's social worker who will make an assessment of need.

Once agreement is reached on the child's requirements schools should email with relevant details.

School attendance during lockdown

We have had a number of queries regarding school attendance especially now we are in a second period of National Lockdown.

It is important that children attend school regularly and this should be a priority however we recognise that there will be some circumstances where this is not possible. In relation to COVID-19 specifically the position is as follows:

  • For cases where there are no health issues for parents or child there is a clear legal requirement for attendance. General fears about catching Covid-19 are not a valid reason for non-attendance.
  • For cases where there are health issues for the parent but they are not classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) again there is a clear legal requirement to attend.
  • For cases where the parent is CEV, guidance suggests the child should attend, attendance is expected. Schools may wish to consider supporting education at home if there is marked reluctance on the part of the parent or child to attend but there is no requirement to do so.
  • For cases where the child was previously classed as CEV and/or comes within one of the current CEV categories they should not attend school unless medical advice says it is safe for them to do so. Schools should ask parents to provide medical advice confirming the position.

Staffing costs related to COVID-19

There is a clear expectation from Government that schools should do all they can to remain open. This means schools may need to make greater use of supply teachers than normal due to staff being required to self-isolate or shield, or children of staff being required to self-isolate. This has cost implications.

To date, Government has said that supply costs should be managed within existing budgets. However, we recognise it may not be possible for some schools to do this and remain open.

As such, we are advising schools to ensure full records are kept of any additional staffing costs incurred as a result of COVID-19 and we will be strongly making the case to the DfE that these must be considered claimable costs in the next claim window. As yet Government has not announced when the second claims window will open.

The priority now is to ensure schools remain open wherever possible.

Latest FAQs from Public Health team

The county council Public Health team has published answers to commonly asked questions, based on recent interactions with schools. (This was previously issued separately yesterday).


Music teaching in schools and colleges, including singing, and playing wind and brass instruments in groups

Please note the guidance on GOV.UK

"When planning music provision, schools should consider additional specific safety measures. Although singing and playing wind and brass instruments do not currently appear to represent a significantly higher risk than routine speaking and breathing at the same volume, there is now some evidence that additional risk can build from aerosol transmission with volume and with the combined numbers of individuals within a confined space. This is particularly evident for singing and shouting, but with appropriate safety mitigation and consideration, singing, wind and brass teaching can still take place."

Claire King, Cumbria County Council Consultant in Public Health, added:

"Given that there is increasing evidence that singing in large groups in indoor spaces (that are not well ventilated) can increase the risk of COVID-19 being passed between people in the group, I would recommend that if schools are bringing together groups indoors to sing, they consider:

  • Not bringing together large groups of children (however, the number is dependent on the size of the room, so use 2 metre distancing as a guide i.e. if all the people in the room are not at least 2 metres away from anyone else, there are too many in the room)
  • Ensure the space is ventilated (fire doors should NOT be propped open, but other windows and door could be). If doors and windows cannot be left open, limit the amount of time spent together in the space singing (keep below 1 hour and ensure fresh air is allowed to circulate in the room before other groups use it)"

School Portal Alerts

Did you know that you can set Alerts on the School Portal to let you know when new information has been added?  They can be set to let you know when items have been added to a particular area such as your school’s Private library, General Documents or specific folders within the Reference Library.

Alerts can be sent to your email address immediately, daily or weekly. Alerts are a great way to manage the information you receive via the Portal. To set these up yourself, please see the “How to guide” here or contact us and we can set these up for you.

If you would like help, please email