West Berkshire Council

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find information about community support and our services during the coronavirus pandemic, on our information for residents pages, our information for businesses pages, and our community support hub page which has guidance to help coordinate community organisations.

See a summary of our Local Outbreak Control Plan and read our frequently asked questions. 

Primary/Secondary Schools and critical workers statement

Following the Prime Minister's announcement on 4 January 2021, only children of critical workers and vulnerable children and young people should attend primary/secondary school or college. All other pupils and students will receive remote education.

children raising hand image

The demand for children to attend school during this lockdown is higher than the previous lockdown in March last year. Schools are doing their best but the level of demand is now stretching schools capacity and due to safety reasons some schools are having to ration places. Special schools, alternative provision and nursery schools are still expected to provide places for all children.

Last Friday evening (8 Jan 2021) the Department for Education updated the 'critical workers' section of the guidance to clarify that parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can, to help manage demand.

Cllr Dominic Boeck, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education at West Berkshire Council, said:

"We understand parents and carers have had to make immediate changes to their lives and those of their children due to the announcement of the lockdown.

"It's not been an easy task and I am very appreciative of our schools' hard work in ensuring children's education continues in school or at home by remote learning.

"Schools have their own set of challenges to manage including staff who now need to home school, shield, or self-isolate. This, in turn, impacts on the availability of places the school can offer safely with the increase in demand.

"I urge all parents and carers to read the updated guidance on the definition of what constitutes a critical worker, especially as the guidance has been updated stating parents and carers who are critical workers should keep their children at home if they can.

"I would encourage all those classed as a critical worker, in accordance to the guidance, to keep their children at home if they can. Especially if you can make alternative arrangements that follow the lockdown rules. Sticking to the guidance will help us all in slowing down the spread of the virus to ensure children can go back to school safely."

The definition of a 'critical worker' has been described as: Parents or carers whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response including those who work in:

  • health and social care
  • education and childcare
  • key public services
  • local and national government
  • food and necessary goods
  • public safety and national security
  • transport and border, and
  • utilities, communications and financial services.

Further guidance and a breakdown on the above critical workers list can be found on the gov.uk website.