The Department for Education has updated its ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak‘ guidance for staff and children who are defined as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.

Significantly, the guidance conveys that “At all local COVID alert levels, the expectation is that education and childcare provision should continue as normal. The government has been very clear that limiting attendance at schools, and other education settings, should only be done as a last resort, even in areas where a local alert level is high or very high.”

New advice given for staff states: “If an area is at local COVID alert level medium, high or very high, and clinically extremely vulnerable staff are unable to work from home, they should still attend the setting as the workplace should be COVID secure, where the system of controls in this guidance is implemented in line with the setting’s own workplace risk assessment.” It caveats this by adding: “The government may advise more restrictive formal shielding measures for the clinically extremely vulnerable, in the very highest alert areas, based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. In this situation, clinically extremely vulnerable staff should not go into work if shielding advice is in place in their area or the area they work in.”

New advice given for children states: “Clinically extremely vulnerable children and young people should continue to attend school, or other education settings, at all local COVID alert levels unless they are one of the very small number under paediatric care (such as recent transplant or very immunosuppressed children) and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend the setting”. It also adds: “if formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas is introduced, it will be for a limited period of time and “the government will write to families separately to inform them if they are advised to shield and not attend an education setting”.

The definition of ‘clinically extremely vulnerable groups’ as published on the government’s official website can be found here.

The full guidance, as published on the government’s official website can be found here.

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