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Gloucester Academy

Covid-19 FAQs for parents

 Over the past weeks, school life has changed dramatically. The rapid pace of recent changes has thrown up a wide range of uncertainties and questions for parents, children, and members of the school community. This page has been put together to provide simple answers to the most important questions.

This page will be updated on a daily basis as new questions arise and is part of a procedure for addressing queries from parents regarding COVID-19 and Greenshaw Learning Trust schools. The procedure is as follows:

  • If you have a question, please first read the FAQs below.
  • If, having read the FAQs, you are still unable to find an answer to your question, please email the school office.
  • As people go through the process, different questions and answers will arise. Those which could be useful for other parents and carers will then be added to the FAQs page.
  • The questions have been divided into the sections listed below, which will be built upon and added to as the page grows.

Key worker children 

What are ‘key workers’?

The government defines key workers as employees who work in health and social care, education and childcare, key public services, local and national government, food and other necessary goods, public safety and national security, transport, and utilities, communication, and financial services.

For more in-depth information about ‘key worker’ status, please review the government’s guidelines.

What happens if both of my child’s parents are key workers?

If two adults in your household are ‘key workers’, you can apply to send your child into school. Please note that, to verify your status as a key worker, evidence in the form of a work ID may be required.

I’m not a key worker. Can I send my child to school?

Children should remain at home and out of school unless there is no other alternative. If any adult in the household works from home, then your child must stay at home.

Please note, however, that you shouldn’t rely on childcare from those who are advised to self-isolate, such as grandparents or friends and family members with underlying health conditions.

If my child is unable to stay at home, will they attend their school as normal?

In some cases, the school your child will attend during the COVID-19 pandemic will not be their usual school. When your school contacts you in response to your key worker application, they will advise you if this is the case.

What happens if my child is only able to stay at home at certain times?

We understand that, due to shift work and other circumstances, key workers’ ability to look after children at home may change during the week and overtime. You can communicate this directly to a member of staff when you drop off your child or, if your child is currently at home, let us know through the chat function on the school website. 

I have registered as a key worker, but my child is now able to stay at home. What should I do?

If you have registered your child for a place as a key worker but no longer need this, please contact us through live chat, available on all our schools’ websites, so that this can be communicated to the school.

Has additional transport been arranged for children still attending school?

No, there is not any additional school transport being put on for children of key workers, so please use your own or public transport.

I’m a key worker who needs childcare but the school is closed. What should I do?

Following the government announcements, we've taken the decision to close the school until further notice. Where possible, we will seek to assist you with placing your child(ren) into childcare. As per the DfE guidance, please contact your local authority who will also be able to provide you a list of alternative locations.

  • Swindon: Gareth Cheal - gcheal@swindon.gov.uk
  • Wiltshire: Helean Hughes - helean.hughes@wiltshire.gov.uk
  • Oxfordshire: Local Authority - schoolplaceavailability@oxfordshire.gov.uk
  • Reading: Kate Reynolds - kate.reynolds@brighterfuturesforchildren.org
  • Gloucestershire: Local Authority - customerservices@gloucestershire.gov.uk

I’m a key worker and my child needs to stay in school. How do I apply?

Please complete and submit the key worker questionnaire, which can be found here.

Following guidance from the government in regard to the definition of a key worker, we will assess which parents and carers meet this criteria. Using the information you provide in the questionnaire, we will make a decision on your status and get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Where can I find information about access arrangements?

Please read the ‘School Status’ pages on the school’s website, which have been updated with headline information regarding access arrangements for next week.

Vulnerable children 

Parents and carers of children with an EHC plan, or is SEN/vulnerable who have questions about the education and support they will be able to access during the COVID-19 lockdown, are advised to follow this link for the current government guidance;

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on vulnerable children and young people

Do parents of vulnerable children have the right to keep their children at home during this period?

Yes, if parents and carers can look after their child at home and would prefer to do so during this period to ensure social distancing, they can; that is in line with government guidance.

What support is the school providing?

The school will liaise with parents and carers to provide support from a distance where this is possible, including access to therapists and other providers.

It is the responsibility of local authorities to arrange transport for EHCP/SEN/vulnerable children. Parents and carers are encouraged to contact their local authority for advice on whether this will be available to their child.

Free school meals 

What’s happening about free school meals?

If your child is entitled to free school meals and you have registered with the school we are supplying vouchers to cover the cost of 20 days’ worth of lunches from Tuesday 24th March until schools fully reopen. You should receive an email from your school with details of the voucher which you can redeem at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Asda and Waitrose. Please note the voucher can only be redeemed in store.

From Monday 20th April, parents of children registered for free school meals will be sent an eCode via email by Edenred, the company commissioned by the government to provide families with vouchers. Parents and carers should also make sure to check their spam folders for this email.

This eCode can be used to purchase an e-card from a selection of supermarkets. This e-card works in the same way as a gift card from a store.

This new scheme also allows us to combine funding where a family has more than one child eligible for benefit-related Free School Meals. So if you have 3 children in your family, all the money for all 3 children will go on one e-card.

If you have not received your email voucher via email or you are not registered then please make us aware and we will advise accordingly. 

I have received an email asking me to provide my bank details. What do I do?

We have been alerted by the DFE that some parents have received an email stating:

'As schools will be closing, if you're entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we'll make sure you're supported'.

This is a scam email - do not respond and delete immediately.

Am I eligible for free school meals?

Your child may be able to get free school meals if you get any of the following:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

Children who get paid these benefits directly, instead of through a parent or guardian, can also get free school meals.

Your child may also get free school meals if you get any of these benefits and your child is both:

  • Younger than the compulsory age for starting school
  • In full-time education

If your child is eligible for free school meals, they’ll remain eligible until they finish the phase of schooling (primary or secondary) they’re in on 31 March 2022.

You can find further information about free school meal eligibility by visiting: Apply for free school meals

How do I register for free school meals?

Each local authority has their own process for managing free school meal applications. All schools within the Greenshaw Learning Trust fall in one of the following five local authorities. Below are the links that will take you to the appropriate web pages where you can read further information and if required start your free school meals application.

How do the vouchers work?

From Monday 20th April, parents of children registered for free school meals will be sent an eCode via email by Edenred, the company commissioned by the government to provide families with vouchers. Parents and carers should also make sure to check their spam folders for this email.

This eCode can be used to purchase an e-card from a selection of supermarkets. This e-card works in the same way as a gift card from a store.

This new scheme also allows us to combine funding where a family has more than one child eligible for benefit-related Free School Meals. So if you have 3 children in your family, all the money for all 3 children will go on one e-card.

Once parents have received their eCode, they will be able to redeem them in a supermarket of their choice, from the list provided in the email, by either:

Presenting the gift card, as an e-card on a smartphone or tablet.

Presenting a paper copy of the gift card that you have printed at home.

To make sure registered families receive the eCode and instructions as they should, we encourage parents and carers to make sure their school has a correct email address.

More information from Edenred can be found here: https://www.edenred.co.uk/rewa...

I have not received a voucher?

There could be a number of reasons that you have not received a free school meal voucher.

You need to be registered with the local authority. For more information on how to register see our FAQ ‘How do I register for free school meals’. 

The email address on record at the school needs to be up to date. The COVID-19 restrictions means that vouchers are distributed electronically via email. If the email address we have on record is different to the one you use, then you may not be receiving the necessary emails.

If you’re satisfied that both of these points above are completed, and you’re still experiencing an issue then please get back in touch and we’ll escalate this as necessary.

How do I use the voucher? 

Once parents have received their eCode, they will be able to redeem them in a supermarket of their choice, from the list provided in the email, by either:

Presenting the gift card, as an e-card on a smartphone or tablet.

Presenting a paper copy of the gift card that you have printed at home.

Please note the voucher can only be redeemed in store.

Home learning
 

Information about our home learning can be found here.

IT support 

I can’t access my virtual learning platform. What should I do?

If you’re having problems accessing the school's virtual learning platform, or need a new/reset login, please use the reset password link that can be found on the login screen of the virtual learning platform.

If this doesn’t resolve the issue, please contact the school office. Please be aware that, due to the high volume of requests we’re receiving at this time, we may take longer than usual to respond to your request.

I can’t access the links. What should I do?

If you are unable to access links sent by the school, or on the Teacher to Parent app, please contact the school directly. To raise an issue, problem, or request you will need to email home@whfit.org.uk.

Can our children video call their teacher?

Our SLT and IT Team are currently exploring ways in which we can use digital media platforms to support online learning and to ensure it is safe for all concerned. We are waiting on more guidance from the DfE to ensure we implement solutions that are secure and safe but this may take some time to roll out. Once a solution is in place we will update all parents and students as in these unprecedented times we want to ensure we can continue with teaching but we need to ensure it is inclusive and safe.

Can we have our teachers' email address?

At this time, we are not providing teachers email address as we are waiting for guidance as described above.

Finance and payments 

I've emailed the finance department, but not had a response yet. Why?

As you can imagine, moving to a workspace where we cannot take phone calls, does mean that email traffic is extremely high. We can assure you that emails are being received, and we will respond appropriately.

I am waiting for a refund on ParentPay - who do I contact?

We are working with each of our schools, who will be contacting parents about refunds. If you have not had contact with your school admin team, please do so.

If I have a more general finance query - how do I get in contact?

As with the Accounts Payable team, the central finance team are also working from home now, currently without access to telephones. Please contact them through the school office and they will be able to respond to your query.

I want a refund on a payment made for childcare vouchers – how does this work? 

If you wish to claim back a payment made for childcare vouchers, you will need to contact your provider directly. For contractual reasons, they need to contact the school and request the refund; we cannot issue the refund directly to the parent. As tax is not paid on the amount used to purchase the vouchers, the refund has to go back to the parent via their salary payment and therefore the amount will be subject to a tax deduction. The period of time for processing this refund may vary depending on the provider.

Other FAQs
 

When will children be returning to school?

Primary schools will be partially opening for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on 1st June. Secondary schools will be partially opening on 15th June. Please refer to the dedicated reopening FAQs that can be found in the navigation bar.

What are the plans to help children continue learning during the lockdown?

We are currently planning home learning for students. This will consist of numerous assignments linked to the curriculum. You will also be provided with a timetable that shows what is expected and when.

We will notify all parents directly once the Home Learning facility is available online. We really appreciate your patience while this is setup.

I am afraid of being scammed during this unsure period. What can I do to avoid this?

While the large majority will be supporting one another, some people will look to take advantage of the unusual situation our society is facing. It is therefore important to be aware of some of the scams that have been reported and to learn how to avoid them. 

The following advice has been provided by the National Trading Standards Scams Team:

Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:

  • Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for coronavirus – there is no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
  • Home cleaning services.
  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
  • Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
  • There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
  • There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
  • Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
  • People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
  • Take your time; don’t be rushed.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.
  • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as .gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.

Contact information:

  • If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.
  • Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.

What support is available to help keep children safe online?

As per government advice, there are a number of organisations offering support on this issue. Below are some useful links: 

  •  
  • Thinkyouknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
  • Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • LGfL (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSPCC)