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20 March 2020


Dear Parent / Carers


The Special Partnership Trust - Covid -19 Update


I wanted to write to you to provide an honest overview of the current position of the Special Schools in Cornwall and what we are planning to do.  These are unprecedented times, information and guidance changes almost daily.  It is no surprise that we were taken aback by the Government announcement on Wednesday evening and we are still gathering detailed information from the Department of Education.  It is important that we take some time to plan and communicate effectively with pupils, parents and staff.


We understand that you may have expected your child to return to school due to the EHCP status highlighted by the Government.  I feel I need to share the challenges the schools are facing.  Across the Trust, 47% of staff are currently absent.  We are working with all schools across Cornwall and with Cornwall Council to ensure that multi-agency partners are available e.g. social workers, home to school transport, health services, cleaning, school meals, etc.  The Schools in the Trust will open to some pupils and will be providing a reduced and prioritised care offer based on risk assessments.  School staff will be in touch with you at the beginning of next week to explain the school offer, the plans and the way forward.


The most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear.  If children can stay safely at home, they should. This will limit the chance of the virus spreading.  That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home wherever possible and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.


To reiterate previous advice, we are requesting that all pupils who are in the vulnerable groups below should stay at home for 12 weeks:

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma (that requires an inhaler or tablet steroid treatment, or has led to hospital admission in the past)
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • problems with their spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if they have had their spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)

It is important to emphasise that schools remain safe places for children.  But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.  Schools will make pupil based health and safeguarding assessments and consider overarching guidance on social distancing, vulnerable groups and minimising the risk of spreading Covid-19.  We must all consider whether pupils will be safer in an education provision or safer at home.  We understand and support the fact that many parents will choose to keep children at home and ‘shield’ them.  The well-being of staff and pupils is our priority.


I am very proud and grateful for the reaction and continued support of staff, parents and pupils at this time. It is a wonderful community and we are working together to develop flexible interim arrangements that will be put in place to make sure we can offer support to those families who most need it.  We are working to put plans in place to ensure that the schools can offer childcare to Key workers who need it over the Easter holiday period – and extend this to a wider high-risk group of pupils if staffing levels allow over the next few weeks.   


If you have any concerns or questions please refer to the school websites, contact the schools or the Trust office and we will endeavour to answer your questions.


Yours sincerely


Guy Chappell

Executive Director

Special Partnership Trust


t: 01872 520385