We have been working in partnership with local schools to provide essential school places for the children of key workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
All those who have requested place have been accommodated so far, including those from early years settings such as nursery schools.
Places are available over the Easter half-term period with Multi Academy Trusts covering Bank Holiday Friday and Monday (10 and 13 April).
In addition to this we will be providing places for the children of NHS staff on Saturday (11 April) and Easter Sunday (12 April), where South Gloucestershire schools will be contacting NHS workers to offer them a place.
This means key workers can carry on with their vital work in response to the coronavirus outbreak without the added pressures of arranging childcare.
We are also working with schools to support those children who are entitled to a free school meal, ensuring each of them continues to receive the benefit despite many being at home during the current period.
South Gloucestershire Council’s Cabinet Member for Schools, Cllr Erica Williams said: “It is essential that our key workers can carry-on with their work which is vital in the fight against coronavirus and I pass my sincere thanks to those key workers, as well as the schools and council staff working behind the scenes on a daily basis to place their children during this difficult period.
“We have been innovative in our approach; by lowering the age range of those children who qualify to two years old, we have been able to accommodate as many as possible. We are also ensuring that the children who are entitled to a free school meal are provided for, even if they are not currently in a school setting.”
Every school has a different story to tell, but some have home delivered food, others have offered a local collection service, while a number are issuing vouchers to families.
Schools are also staying connected through technology and some are reaching out into their local area giving support for older members of the community.
Kim Garland Head at Brimsham Green School in Yate said: “This has undoubtedly been a challenging time, but it has also provided unexpected opportunities for acts of kindness; our students have been writing to residents of nursing homes, and we’ve been pleased to be able to share resources with the community, such as exercise bikes with the ambulance station, and our science goggles with local care workers. Delivering assemblies via video has been a key way of staying connected, alongside the daily phone calls to students. We are finding that students sharing their creative work online, including their House Competition entries, has really motivated other students and staff to participate.”
Simon Botten, Head at Black Horse Primary School in Emersons Green added: “This crisis has brought out the very best in my staff and parents, in terms of creativity, innovation and a sense of community. We celebrated a virtual ‘Onesie Wednesday’ for Autism Awareness week with children sending in pictures of them home learning in their onesies in support of our many autistic learners.
“My staff have also been videoing dozens of stories so that children can still connect with their teachers even though we can’t be together, and our school counsellor has her own video channel providing daily well-being tips for our families. Whilst this undoubtedly will be a very difficult time for children, parents and staff, I have no doubt that our community will come out the other side stronger than ever.”
If you are a key worker in need of a school place for your child, including any NHS workers that need a place over the Easter weekend, please email us at CAHBusinessSupportBMR@southglos.gov.uk. We will need to know by 12 noon on Wednesday 8 April.