Covid-19 Family Support Hub

This page is regularly updated with the latest guidance and advice that aims to support children, young people and their families to continue to access services and education as we move through the current pandemic.

England is following a phased four step roadmap out of lockdown, from Monday 19 July we enter step 4. 

The Department for Education SEND division have also updated and refreshed their guidance for Special schools and other specialist settings to reflect the changing restrictions and provide current advice on settings and accessing education and services.

In the next section we highlight key changes and updates you need to know to keep you on track.


Last updated: 19 July 2021

Step 4 announced

On Monday 12 July 2021 the Prime Minister announced that on Monday 19 July England will enter step 4 of the government’s plan for ending the Covid restrictions.


What does step 4 mean for families?

How the rules will change on 19 July?

From Monday 19 July:

  • You do not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. There are also no limits on the number of people you can meet. However, in order to minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, you should limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
  • Families can go to libraries, community centres, visit leisure centres and outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in cinemas.
  • Families can go to cinemas, restaraunts and other indoor settings with no restrictions on group sizes.
  • Families can attend parent and children groups and supervised activities both indoors and outdoors with no restrictions on group sizes.
  • Support bubbles are no longer in place and you can receive childcare and support from all friends and relatives.

Please read the updated guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread for full details.


Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

  • All Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) children and young people are no longer advised to shield. However, you should continue to follow the guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and are advised to take additional precautions to protect them. 
  • All CEV children and young people should attend their education setting unless they are one of the very small number of children and young people under paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend.

Vaccinations for children and young people

  • On 19 July the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that some under-18s can receive the COVID-19 vaccine and the government has accepted that advice.
  • Children at increased risk of serious COVID-19 disease are offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That includes children aged 12 to 15 with severe neurodisabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities.
  • The JCVI also recommends that children and young people aged 12 to 17 who live with an immunosuppressed person should be offered the vaccine. This is to indirectly protect their immunosuppressed household contacts, who are at higher risk of serious disease from COVID-19 and may not generate a full immune response to vaccination.
  • Under existing advice, young people aged 16 to 17 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious COVID-19 should have already been offered vaccination.

  • Young people aged 16 to 17 years, who are employed in, studying or in training for health and social care work will also continue to be eligible for vaccination.

Please see JCVIs statement on COVID-19 vaccination of children and young people aged 12 to 17 years here.

Important things to remember

  • Face coverings are no longer required by law but the government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas. Individuals are free to wear a face covering if they wish to. 

  • You should follow the rules on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread to protect yourself and others.

  • You should attend school or college as normal, unless you are self-isolating. 

  • You should walk or cycle where possible, plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes when travelling.

  • The Department for Education COVID-19 helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) is available to answer any questions you have about COVID-19 relating to education settings and children’s social care.

Special school guidance - what happens if my child can't attend school because of Coronvirus?

SEND and specialist settings are required to provide remote education and pastoral support to pupils who are unable to attend school on-site because they are self-isolating. There may be additional challenges that some children and young people with SEND will experience in accessing remote education. Specialist settings should work with parent /families/ carers to support children and young people with complex needs to access appropriate remote learning and support where they are not able to be in school or college. 

Read more details here.

What does it mean for local authorities and short break providers?


Wraparound and extra curricular support providers will continue with operations as before. 

Parents or carers of disabled children may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled child. Further information on this is available at guidance for children’s social care services.

As provision continues, we continue to refer you to our useful resources and learning examples on short breaks.

You can download our briefing for local authorities Short Breaks for Disabled Children: A Legal Guide which sets out the relevant legal duties which remain relevant outside of the previous restrictions.

We also present our series of learning examples on short break provision during lockdown periods, which provide some useful advice and creative practice. You can read those here.

A key message from all providers that we heard from in relation to the learning examples was that risk assessments should be used as an enabler to providing support rather than a barrier. This message is still as relevant in this four step period as it is in national restrictions.

“Risk assessment which supports effective risk management and creative thinking led to different approaches to face-to-face support rather than support being withdrawn especially for children, young people and families who were particularly vulnerable or at high risk of going into crisis during the pandemic.”