Coronavirus information for parents and carers
There is a lot of uncertainty around the current COVID-19 outbreak, particularly given that the situation is constantly developing and much information about the virus remains incomplete. Understandably, this is causing a lot of worry and anxiety for children, families and staff living and working within Central Bedfordshire. Having children and young people at home, often when people are trying to work themselves, adds another layer of stress. It is, therefore, important to not only consider our physical health during such challenging times, but also to pay attention to our mental health.
We've put together some coronavirus advice which we hope schools and parents and carers will find helpful.
Wider opening of schools
Please note that schools in Central Bedfordshire are offering places to pupils from the government’s priority year groups, in line with a detailed assessment of the specific risks facing the individual school and with the safety of pupils, staff and the wider community as their primary focus.
Head teachers and governors have thought carefully about the ability of their school to accommodate pupils in a way that follows the government’s guidance to schools.
Please be aware that:
- schools may need to withdraw provision for some pupils if circumstances change - this could happen if, for example, more critical worker pupils return to school, pupils in younger age groups need to return to school, or if staff have to self-isolate in line with advice from the NHS track and trace service
- changes in provision may need to be made at short notice, so please make sure your child’s school always has an up-to-date contact number and email address for you
- schools may need you to give them notice that you wish your child to return to school and they may need to ask you to wait until staffing levels enable them to admit additional pupils
If you are a critical worker and your child’s usual school cannot offer them a place, please email email@example.com.
Update on our response to Ofsted's joint area SEND inspection, in light of COVID-19
Parent information leaflet - where and how to seek help when your child is unwell
View or download advice on what to do if your child is unwell (for COVID-19 period), from Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which provides information on what to do if your child is unwell.
Bedfordshire Specialist Children’s Services; essential service delivery for children during the COVID-19 pandemic
Bedfordshire Community Health Services moved to the delivery of ‘Essential’ health services as per national guidance from Monday 23 March 2020 – find out what this involves (PDF). For more information, please see our Special Educational Needs and Disability - Local Offer.
Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers
The Department for Education has updated its guidance for parents and carers to include a section on keeping children safe online. It provides links to online resources that will help support parents and carers in keeping their children safe online.
Full details can be found in section 6.3 of the guidance.
Critical workers – school opening
We are aware that there may be occasions where a school is closed but critical workers returning from isolation, or parents who become critical workers because they are re-entering one of the critical worker categories to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, require a school place for children.
In this instance parents are advised to:
- attempt to contact the school via the communication channels provided locally
- email firstname.lastname@example.org if they have not received a school response within 24 / 48 hours
In the event that a school cannot open, our officers will work with schools to source a suitable school place nearby.
School transport until Easter
School transport will continue to run as normal until Easter. Further details regarding arrangements during and post-Easter will follow.
Alternative non-school childcare availability
NHS help and support in Central Bedfordshire
NHS help and support continues to be available across Central Bedfordshire through our mental health and community health services. Caring healthcare professionals are available at the end of the phone to help you or your loved ones – find out about the services available.
Children’s mental health
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has produced a poster on helping children cope with stress during the COVID-19 outbreak, as part of its advice for the public and the British Psychological Society has produced advice on talking to children about COVID-19.
Mental Health app ThinkNinja
The ThinkNinja app has been updated with specific COVID-19 support scripts. The new content is designed to bring self-help knowledge and skills to children and young people (10-18 years old) who may be experiencing increased anxiety and stress during this time. The new content provides an opportunity for young people to understand the following:
- fears relating to the virus
- isolation struggles and how to stay connected to family and friends
- worries about personal health and health of family members
- coping techniques to use during the crisis
- many other helpful tips
Support for families homeschooling – example daily programme and useful links
- 9am – P.E with Joe Wicks, weekdays at 9am but you can visit Joe's YouTube channel any time to view the workouts
- 9:30am – Wildlife with Steve Backshall on Facebook, for answering all your wildlife biology, conservation, geography and exploration questions
- 11am – Science with Maddie Moate, weekdays on Maddie's YouTube channel
- 11am – Storytime with David Walliams, with a free story every day at 11am on David Walliams' website
- 11am – Dance with Oti Mabuse, every day on Oti's YouTube channel, but children can view the class at any time
- midday – Lunch (cooking) with Jamie Oliver. You may have seen Jamie's Keep Cooking and Carry On show on Channel 4, which shows you how to keep cooking through quarantine conditions, using what you already have in your cupboards. While those recipes are a bit advanced for little people, he has a whole section on his website just to get kids cooking, so they can rustle up their own lunch. https://www.jamieoliver.com/features/easy-recipes-for-kids/
- 2pm – History with Dan Snow (you can sign up to History Hit TV for free for 30 days); the streaming service has loads of history documentaries on it about everything from Jack The Ripper to the Battle of Hastings in 1066
- the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has put together some free simple and fun activities that require no specialist knowledge from parents or young people, but provide a great way to get involved in Stephen Lawrence Day, whilst being able to learn and connect with the community
- in response to the coronavirus, the Anna Freud Centre has produced some toolkits (view toolkit 1, view toolkit 2)
- maths with Carol Voderman – free access to themathsfactor.com
- music with Myleene Klass – twice a week on Myleen’s Music Klass YouTube channel
- Royal Mint interactive ‘Kids Hub’ – this free resource is available on The Royal Mint’s website and provides a host of quizzes, games and educational tools, brought to life through iconic coins, and popular children’s characters such as The Gruffalo and Wallace & Gromit
- free taster pack with Twinkl – free resources have been created especially for parents of children aged 5 to 7, including: a SATs survival pack; activities; phonics; mindfulness colouring
- National Literacy Trust – early years resources will help schools, settings and parents support children’s development from birth to age 5
- PhonicsPlay – free, unlimited access to selected games and teaching ideas across several phases (play these as many times as you like)
Children’s guide to coronavirus
The Children’s Commissioner has put together a short guide to help explain to children, in language they can understand, some of the issues surrounding coronavirus.
Autism Bedfordshire COVID-19 support services
Autism Bedfordshire has provided a range of additional free services and downloadable resources to help families during this difficult period.
A YoungMinds survey, Coronavirus: Impact on Young People with Mental Health Needs, published today, reported that 83% of under 25s (2111 surveyed) with a history of mental health issues responded that the pandemic had made their mental health worse.
As such, YoungMinds has provided advice and resources for young people, parents and carers during the pandemic, including for those with eating disorders, OCD and anxiety.
Children’s Book explaining COVID-19
Parents and carers may find this online book, which explains COVID-19 to younger children, helpful.
Bedfordshire CAMHS (North & South) Self-Referrals
Young people or parents/carers who live in Bedfordshire can now self-refer to their local CAMH service. Copies of the referral forms can be found on the following website pages. The form should be completed and emailed to the address on the form:
The team will screen all referrals for risk and need. For any referrals that we are unable to accept during these challenging times, support will be provided in the form of psychoeducation and self-help.
Mental Health Crisis
In the event of an emergency, young people can access an All-Age Crisis helpline available 24 hours per day:
- ELFT Bedfordshire All Age Crisis Team - 01234 315691
- ELFT Luton All Age Crisis Team - 01582 538631
- Need help now?
Yvonne Newbold, the Special Parent - webinar series
Carers in Bedfordshire is pleased to announce a series of 3 webinars, hosted by Yvonne Newbold, as follows:
- 21 May 2020 - How to be calmer and happier when everyone’s anxious and frozen in fear
- 28 May 2020 - Understanding communication, why it impacts on behaviour and how you can help
Each one will start at 8.15 pm for two hours per session. This will be a 90-minute talk with slides, followed by 30 minutes for questions. A link to the replay can be sent out afterwards to anyone who registered to attend. To join, please contact Dawn Ray, on 07772 231183 or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and joining details will be provided nearer the time.