COVID-19: Statement on Provision of Critical Childcare for Key Workers

A letter to employers from the Director of Skills, Education & Learning at Dumfries & Galloway Council.

The First Minister has extended closure of our schools until the start of February at the earliest and emphasised the stay at home message.  We must reduce the number of people in our school buildings and the Scottish Government has updated the guidance on who qualifies for critical childcare. The Government’s position remains that the number of children taking up these places in schools during the strict lockdown period should be kept to the absolute minimum.  The Scottish Government has told us that evidence about the spread amongst children and young people is still being assessed. We had over 2,000 children attending D&G schools last week as ‘last resort childcare’; this number is increasing day on day.

As a result of the Government’s Guidance and to reduce the risk of transmission, we have had to revise who is able to access critical childcare in our schools.  Only where both parents are key workers who are physically attending their workplace or who cannot fulfil their critical functions when they are working remotely from home may qualify for places. We must make difficult decisions as we are trying to balance the need to help families with critical childcare with being required to reduce the number of people in our school buildings. 

Letters to all previous applicants will be sent today, and there is a process in place where parents can ask us to look again, and provide employer support.  I understand that this is difficult – we always aim to meet the expectations of families but in this situation supervising high numbers of children in school buildings while asking staff to work from home presents challenges. 

We must make the best use of resources for emergency childcare in order to protect young people and staff – today I am asking parents/carers that, where we can, we take all steps to keep children at home until we are advised we can begin to lift these restrictions – I ask this of employers where you can, too. In the letter I have written to parents who do not appear to meet the criteria for emergency childcare I have added (as per the governments guidance ‘  I hope this gives you time to allow you to speak again to your employer and/or put alternative childcare arrangements in place.

There is further information

You may receive enquiries from staff and I wanted you and your managers to be aware of the context. I know we are all having to make difficult decisions and our schools want to continue to support families. We all know that the working environment and local economy is very difficult for many. You might be asked to support an employee’s application that they are fulfilling key worker roles and are required to attend work in person.  If you can help us by confirming this, then we will provide the childcare place in school,  I am trying to keep numbers low to prioritise those who really need us.