The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on all aspects of everyday life, including the education system. We know that this will be causing a lot of anxiety for autistic children, and parents will have questions about what this means for their child’s education. We’ve tried to answer some of the most important questions below. There is further information in the Government’s guidance.

Should my child continue to go to school?

The Government has announced the closure of schools across the country. However, there are some instances where some autistic children can continue to attend school. We’ve explained how this will be decided below.

If you’re child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan

Their school or college should carry out a risk assessment to decide whether they need to continue to be offered a school or college place in order to meet their needs, or whether they can safely have their needs met at home. The school should talk to you and the council about this and will take lots of things into consideration. You can read more about those in Government’s own guidance.

The result of this risk assessment will be either:

  • your child can continue to go to school
  • your child should stay at home

If your child can go to school, this does not mean you have to send them.

If your child doesn’t have an EHC Plan

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. You can read the full guidance here.

If my child is still going to school:

  • Will they attend their usual education setting?
    Not always – if your child needs to go to school but their own school is closed, they will be given a place in another school.
  • Will they still get all the support their EHC Plan says they should be getting?
    The new Coronavirus Act says that local authorities won’t need to meet all the requirements included in your child’s EHC Plan during this outbreak. However, it does say that schools and colleges should use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to make sure your child is supported. You should speak to your child’s school if you are concerned that their needs aren’t being met.
  • If changes are made to my child’s EHC Plan, will this be permanent?
    No - any changes to the support outlined in the EHC Plan during this period will be taken as temporary changes only. However, we don’t know long any changes could be in place for. The Coronavirus Act, which makes changes to EHC Plans possible, will be reviewed in September 2020. We will share more information about this when we have it.

My child currently receives free school meals – will we still get them if they aren’t going to school?

For children who are at home, schools will either provide:

  • meals for collection or delivery or
  • vouchers to families electronically, or as a gift card for those without internet access.

Your child’s school should be in touch with you to let you know what they intend to do.

You can find out more information about free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak in the Government’s guidance for schools and parents.

Do we know how long schools will be closed?

We don’t know - the Government’s announcement says ‘until further notice’. We’ll share more information about this when we get it.