Children with medical needs
Majority of children no longer need to shield
The Department of Health and Social Care released a statement on Monday 6 July setting out that most children no longer need to shield. The latest guidance for families is as follows:
- a small group of children who receive specialist care in hospitals may need to carry on shielding following a consultation with their doctor; this includes those receiving cancer care or those at risk of severe infection due to an immunodeficiency
- most other children who were initially identified as being clinically extremely vulnerable will no longer be considered at highest risk; in particular, children and young people who are cared for just by their GP are very unlikely to need to continue to shield in the long term; this includes children with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy and kidney disease
The guidance says: ‘Children will only be removed from the shielded patient list by their GP or specialist doctor following consultation with the child and their family. Specialists and GPs will be asked to contact children and their families to discuss this over the summer, so families do not need to take any immediate action.’
You can read the Government announcement in full here: Majority of children no longer need to shield (GOV.UK, opens in a new window).
The updated guidance on shielding can be found here: COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable (GOV.UK, opens in a new window).
Arrangements for children with medical needs in educational settings during Covid-19 pandemic
Educational settings have been working extremely hard in recent months so that pupils can continue with their education effectively during these challenging times. As more children and young people return over the forthcoming weeks settings will continue to adapt their arrangements, to ensure that they can safely and effectively meet the needs of their pupils.
Although it is still the case that school attendance is not compulsory, schools are still required to review the attendance of eligible pupils in the setting and make sure that there are arrangements in place for those children who remain at home. If a child is absent from school, regardless of vulnerability or year group, the school must have an understanding of the circumstances and should consult with the child’s parents, and where relevant, appropriate professionals to determine what (if any) measures need to be implemented to safeguard the child and access to education.
When a child is or is likely to be absent from school for 15 days consecutively or cumulatively in a school year due to illness (this would not normally include absences due to short term illness such as influenza or self-isolation due to Covid-19) schools should develop an Individual Health Care Plan (IHCP). This IHCP should identify the specific needs of the child and the educational arrangements required to meet those needs.
An integral part of the IHCP process requires obtaining supporting advice from healthcare professionals and for that evidence and advice to be regularly reviewed, so that all parties are confident the arrangements remain appropriate and that the child is making the expected progress. Even if a child’s medical condition does not prevent them from attending school the IHCP process should be followed, ensuring that at all times the needs of the child are identified, understood and acted on.
Children and young people (0 to 18 years of age) who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions from GOV.UK (opens in a new window)* have been advised to shield. These children are not expected to be attend their educational setting, and they should continue to be supported at home as much as possible.
Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19). A small minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.
*Clinically extremely vulnerable (shielded) include those who:
- have had a solid organ transplant – kidney, liver, pancreas, heart or lung
- are having treatments for some cancers
- have severe long-term lung disease including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
- have some rare diseases that increase their risk of infection
- are on medication that compromises their immune system and so are much more likely to get infections and become seriously unwell from them
An IHCP is not designed to be a single agency plan. The involvement of parents, the child and the child’s healthcare provider(s) will be needed for the plan to comprehensive and adequate. They will be able to provide useful information to inform decisions regarding the arrangements needed. This is especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic as the plan will support the school’s risk assessment of the child and assist in identifying the specific measures required, including when PPE is to be used (if at all).
For further information about supporting children with medical needs in school please visit:
Other guidance which may prove helpful can be accessed as follows: