Coronavirus advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - updates, advice and guidance for parents and carers

Are schools and settings in Hackney open?

The details outlined below reflect national guidance (issued on 30 December and 1 January). We encourage you to check the school website for any local arrangements which may be in place on a temporary basis.

January 2021 - school and setting opening arrangements

Early years

Early years settings remain open. In the week beginning 4 January, however, Hackney’s maintained children’s centres will only be open for children of critical workers and those who are vulnerable. Centres are reviewing risk assessments before opening more widely.

Independent settings will provide information separately and you are asked to check their websites for further information.

Colleges, Primary & Secondary Schools

Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.

Special schools

Special schools will be opening as usual.

There may be situations where local decisions means some schools have different arrangements. Please check school websites for any local arrangements which may be in place.

How do I know if my child is classed as vulnerable?

Vulnerable children and young people include those who:

  • have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children's social care and early help multi-agency teams), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance

For more information see the government’s guidance regarding Critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings.

Children with at least one parent or carer who is listed as a critical worker are eligible for a school place. It is not necessary for both parents to be critical workers.

Roll out of testing

Rapid result/lateral flow testing is being rolled out to secondary schools, colleges and special schools in January for staff and children attending on site.  This programme also allows schools and colleges to test pupils upon their return.

Are out-of-school settings open?

In order to contain the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), only vulnerable children and children of critical workers are able to attend wraparound childcare and out-of-school settings for face-to-face provision.  Schools and settings will, however, be carrying out risk assessments so provision may be limited for the time being

Government guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak provides more information on what provision may be available as well as how you can check with a provider that they have put in place protective measures to reduce the risk of infection.

Will my child still get free school meals?

If your child usually receives free school meals and is not attending school during this period of lockdown, then the school should provide you with an alternative.  Schools are looking at options for how Free School Meals are best provided at this time and more information on this will be available shortly. 

Some families who have no recourse to public funds may also be eligible for free school meals under a temporary extension to free school meal eligibility. Please contact your school for more information and to apply under this extension.

New applications for free school meals will still be processed in the same way as before. If you think you have recently become eligible please contact your school office.

Find out more about the provision of free school meals during the coronavirus lockdown.

If you receive free school meal vouchers, find out more about healthy and easy recipe ideas.

Transport for London funding for under 18 travel

The proposal to remove free travel for U18s has been withdrawn as part of the TfL funding agreement. For the time being under 18 travel will remain free.

We know a significant number of Hackney pupils use public transport to get to school or college. However we also know that 85% of pupils live within 2 miles of school: a distance which is walkable by the great majority.

We are encouraging pupils to use active travel means, walking or cycling, wherever possible. This avoids public transport, saves money if fares have to be paid - and is the healthiest option.

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health - Advice for parents during coronavirus

Whilst coronavirus is infectious to children, it is rarely serious. If a child is unwell it is likely to be a non-coronavirus illness, rather than coronavirus itself.

Whilst it is extremely important to follow Government advice to stay at home during this period, it can be confusing to know what to do when a child is unwell or injured.

NHS 111, GPs and hospitals are still providing the same safe care that they have always done. A downloadable poster with advice is available from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health website. 

What to do if you or your child has coronavirus symptoms

Stay at home for ten days if you have:

  • a high temperature;
  • a new continuous cough; or
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

If you have the above symptoms, you should arrange to have a test as soon as possible to see if you have COVID-19 – find out more about what testing is and how to arrange a test.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

Read the stay at home guidance which sets out when and how to self isolate.

Advice and guidance

There is a range of advice and guidance available on the gov.uk website. Please note that this information is regularly updated and you should, therefore, refer back to it for any changes

In addition, the NSPCC has created a number of resources to support parents and carers during this difficult time. Topics include:

  • Talking to a child worried about coronavirus
  • Parents working from home
  • Children staying home alone
  • Lockdown and separated parents
  • How to cope with tantrums and other difficult behaviour

This advice can be found on the NSPCC website.

What other action you should take

A UK-wide campaign has been launched to provide clear advice on how to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Please help to support the campaign which promotes basic hygiene practices, such as regularly washing hands and always sneezing into a tissue (and then immediately disposing of it), to stem the spread of viruses.

See the NHS advice about washing your hands

This page was last modified on: 5 Jan 2021