Barnsley, like many other places across the country, is seeing an increase in rates of positive Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
Inevitably, this is leading to schools having to close classes/bubbles for 14 days and for children and families having to self-isolate, where they may have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.
While necessary, I do understand that this is highly disruptive for children’s learning and education, as well as being a real challenge for parents.
But it is worth families thinking about how you will prepare for this situation, where your child/children are attending a child care setting or where their school class must temporarily, for 14 days, have to self-isolate; particularly as these arrangements have to be made immediately and with little or no notice.
Speak to your employer to make sure you know your options should you need to stay at home to care for your child while they are self-isolating. For example, can you work from home or request flexible working, are you entitled to parental leave or can you save some annual leave just in case you need to take time off at short notice?
To support people on low incomes who are unable to work from home and whose finances are affected by isolation, a test and trace payment scheme has been set up through Barnsley Council.
From Monday 28 September to Sunday 31 January people can claim for a one-off payment of £500 to support them during their isolation period. Anybody that is looking to claim payment will need to meet eligibility criteria set out on the Barnsley Council website, including receiving the relevant Department for Work and Pensions benefits. Details of the test and trace payment scheme can be found on the council website.
If a person does not meet the eligibility criteria for the main scheme, they may be able to claim as part of Barnsley Council’s discretionary scheme instead. Details of the discretionary scheme can be found on the council website.
If a person receives a positive Coronavirus (COVID-19) test or has been asked to isolate through the NHS Track and Trace service on or after Monday 28 September, they can claim for the payment online at www.barnsley.gov.uk/covid-19-test-and-trace-support-payment or by calling (01226) 787787 and pressing option 3.
All schools have plans in place to support children and young people to continue to access their learning whilst self-isolating at home. Some schools will teach children remotely through virtual education and some schools will produce work booklets that can be sent home for children for example.
Speak with your school to understand how they would provide learning opportunities during any school or bubble closures. Do you have the resources that you need? If you are concerned that you might not have what you need to support your child’s learning for example you don’t have access to the internet then speak with your school now so they can support you to overcome any barriers so that you are prepared should your child be sent home to self-isolate.
Think about ways you can keep your children entertained when they aren’t studying, you could opt for these home-based activities that our Early Help Service have suggested:
- Build a den and read your favourite stories
- Have a carpet picnic or make some tasty treats - you can’t go wrong with a batch of chocolate cornflake buns.
- Cook and bake together
- Play board games or even better create your own
- Support your children to get creative with some arts and crafts.
- Make an indoor cinema watching your favourite movie with popcorn and blankets.
- Have you a supply of books at home; if not already a member, join Barnsley Libraries, who also provide a range of online resources
Work together with your children to make your own isolation kit with a good supply of the items you will need to help you be prepared.
Prepare for how you can still access any important appointments for your child without the need for leaving the house. Many services have systems in place to support families to continue to engage in their services in the event of them isolating – get in touch with the service provider to explain your child is isolating and ask them how they can support you to access the session from home e.g. ask if they can provide the appointment over the phone by Microsoft Teams or Facetime.
Think about what additional support you might need and who can provide this. For example, if you can’t get out to get your shopping – can you shop online, or could a friend or family member buy your shopping and drop it off on your doorstep. Do you have friends and/or family members you can talk to by telephone?
The best way to get support is to talk to your friends, family, or a professional that knows you already, such as a GP, teacher, family support worker, school nurse, health visitor, or early intervention and prevention worker. They'll be able to talk to you about what additional help you may need and how to access it.
If you are not currently accessing support from any of these services then you can request a call back from a family support worker within the Early Start and Families Service by emailing email@example.com or calling 08000345340.
For all general updates and further information, please have a look at the local offer webpage on the Family Information Service, where we will post updates:
You can also find more information council’s dedicated COVID 19 page.