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Plans for school places to be finalised this weekend ahead of new system

PUBLISHED: 08:05 21 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:34 21 March 2020

Sara Tough, director of children services at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Sara Tough, director of children services at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Copyright (c) Julian Claxton Photography 2017.

Details on how schools will operate from Monday are set to be decided this weekend, as final plans are put in place.

While the majority of pupils will remain at home from Monday, March 23, as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, schools will remain open to vulnerable children and those of key workers.

There are 422 schools in Norfolk, and Norfolk County Council says education leaders have been working day and night to pull together a plan on how the new system will operate.

Sara Tough, executive director of children’s services at the council, said: “School leaders, teachers and governors are doing fantastic work in the most testing of circumstances. Their role is vital in the national effort to fight this disease.

“We’re working closely with headteachers, principals and governors to plan for coming days and weeks – the scale of this task cannot be underestimated and the situation is unprecedented. We will be working throughout the weekend to support schools and academies with this.

MORE: Warning Norfolk schools for key worker children during coronavirus may not all be open for Monday

“Our priority is ensuring children are safe and the most vulnerable children have the support and care they need. Norfolk’s schools are rising to the challenge and doing the very best they can but there is no simple solution to managing this task in a rural county the size of Norfolk.”

The council has advised families to check its website - norfolk.gov.uk/coronavirus - for updates and to check school websites and social media pages for latest information.

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It is likely plans will be finalised over the weekend, as the council collates data on how many school places are needed and which schools have enough staff to open.

Parents have been asked not to send their children to school on Monday if they haven’t been given a place, and the council said families will be able to discuss any concerns with schools when they reopen next week.

They said they may be able to find a child a place at another school, if the child is eligible and the family cannot look after the child at home.

Schools will only fully close if they do not have enough staff to safely open or they have to close for a deep clean. In these situations, children who are eligible for a place will receive transport to a different venue.

In some cases, where children have specialist needs, schools are planning to carry out home visits, rather than open their schools, they said.

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