Covid-19: Children, school closures, key workers

20th March 2020

Covid-19: Children, school closures, key workers

As mums and dads ourselves, our team of family lawyers are very aware of the pressures on parents and carers, particularly since the announcement of the school closures.

Many parents will still be required to work but many will not be able to do so due to these unexpected childcare commitments.

We have put together some top tips on what to do if you find yourself in any of the following scenarios:

You have a court order in place:  If you are able to work together, just while things settle, you can change the usual arrangements on a temporary basis to accommodate the children until schools reopen

Your child lives with one parent: If the children live with one parent, you could shift the living arrangements to the other parent or other family members (provided that doesn’t create the risk of spread of infection)

You are a ‘key worker’ or your children or your family are classed as ‘vulnerable’: You should explore whether your children can attend another school in the local area, even if their usual school is closed

*(an explanation of the government’s definition of key workers  and vulnerable children is given below) )

Stuck over the Easter holidays: The Easter holidays would have commenced for most children from 2/3 April in any event. You may be able to extend annual leave or purchase some additional leave from your employer.  You may also be able to take unpaid leave and spread the impact of that across your pay for the next couple of months.  You should explore all of the options with your employer

Have a mortgage or rent to pay:  If you are worried that you might not be able to meet mortgage or rent, you might find the following resource useful in assisting you in applying for a mortgage holiday or rent relief for the next few months:

If you would like to discuss any of these issues in more detail, you can contact: 

Sioned Fitt on 0134 327162 or

Phil Barnsley on 07790 800921 or


*Key workers and vulnerable children

Schools will close indefinitely on 20 March to all children except those who are vulnerable and those with at least one parent or carer listed as a key worker.

The guidance covers children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges (both state-funded and independent).

Vulnerable children

The government has defined vulnerable children as ‘children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.’

The government recognises that schools will also want to support other children who they consider vulnerable wherever possible.

Key workers

The government has published a list of key sectors where the work of parents is critical to the coronavirus response. The children of these workers will be prioritised for education provision where they cannot be safely cared for at home.

The list of key workers includes the following:

  1. Health and social care: doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain such as distributors of medicines and PPE, and other frontline health and social care staff.
  2. Education and childcare: childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active to deliver this approach.
  3. Key public services: those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, journalists and broadcasters providing public service broadcasting.
  4. Local and national government: administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or those delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits.
  5. Food and other necessary goods: those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)
  6. Public safety and national security: police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue service employees, National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff.
  7. Transport: those who are needed to keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
  8. Utilities, communication and financial services: workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure, the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, information technology and data infrastructure sector, key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

A complete list of key workers can be seen at:

If you would like to discuss any of these issues in more detail, you can contact:

Tim Jones on 07815 167206 or 

Katherine Cooke on 01384 327143 or 

If you have any general queries or concerns that you feel we can assist with then please email and somebody will get back to you as a matter of urgency.

This note is up to date and accurate as at 20 March 2020


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