Coronavirus: council service information and advice

We're working with schools and early years settings to ensure this page is kept updated. Your child's school or setting should contact you directly with any changes.

Please follow the government's latest coronavirus advice on Gov.UK.

There is a Department of Education helpline to answer education queries about coronavirus. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline by email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk or telephone: 0800 046 8687 (open Monday to Friday - 8am to 6pm).

The Government took the decision to close all schools and early years settings such as nurseries and pre-schools from Friday 20 March. They have remained closed to the majority of children and will do until further notice, except for the priority groups of children of keyworkers, vulnerable children and children in specific year groups advised by the Government. The reduction in the number of children in school is a key part of the Government's measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Government's advice is that if children aren't eligible to return to school and can stay safely at home, they should do so, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. They have set out the following key principles:

  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  • If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent or carer who is a critical worker who cannot look after their child in any other way, or has been invited back to school in line with the wider re-opening since 1 June, then educational provision will be available for them.
  • If a child is not in school, parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  • Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  • Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

    Schools and early years settings will inform parents of arrangements made to enable learning to continue while closed.

Find information on who is classed as a critical worker.

There may be circumstances when the school or early years setting is unable to provide a place to eligible children due to staff shortages, or other reasons, in which case, the school or setting will work with the council to resolve the issue quickly and inform you of the outcome.

Advice and guidance 

School closures for children with an Education, Health and Care plan

Many children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) can safely remain at home. School and colleges will remain open for some children and young people with an EHCP who are not able to remain safely at home. Your child's school or setting will be in contact to let you know what support will be available. 

There may be circumstances when the school or setting is unable to provide a place to eligible children due to staff shortages, or other reasons, in which case, the school or setting will work with the council to resolve the issue quickly.

Find helpful information and resources on the Portsmouth Local Offer website.

Portsmouth Parent Voice (PPV) have set up a closed online support group for families with children or young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and a Sharing is Caring group to help with essentials.  PPV can be contacted by email on ppvmanager@p-d-f.org.uk or 07712 439159.

Homestart are also offer parenting advice. This can be delivered remotely over the phone or over a video call. Please call 023 9273 4400 Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm.  There is also a limited doorstep drop-off service for crafts and equipment, as well as a Facebook page full of helpful parenting tips.