Parents are understandably questioning the current guidance around shielding. This has arisen from the new ‘Our Plan to Rebuild’ guidance released by the UK Government and the lack of information provided within it in relation to shielding and what happens after this initial advisory shielding period ends.
What we know is that the guidance on the 12-week shielding period due to finish at the end of June has not formally changed from before. We also know that the Department of Health, with support from Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, is currently considering how the guidance might change for children with health conditions and this includes a specific focus on children and young people with liver disease. It will be more focussed on targeted guidance for those at most risk. That work is ongoing.
At CLDF we appreciate how difficult this period is. Our parents are adhering to shielding practice to keep their children as safe as possible, but this poses its own challenges in supporting their family’s overall health and wellbeing, and that of their wider family too.
The announcement of schools reopening will also have led to many more questions relating to the wider family. Parents know their children best, understand their needs and can balance this with minimising risk to their health during this pandemic. This includes deciding whether their child should attend school. At this point in time, it is unlikely that schools will consider fining or raising concerns about children not attending if parents believe there is a risk to their health. However, if you have concerns, it is important to hold a collaborative discussion with the school in advance of non-attendance.
Some parents have made the decision to take their shielding children out for walks to places where they know there will be very little chance of encountering any other people. If they do come across other individuals, they adhere to strict social distancing measures (2 metres apart), avoid touching surfaces, wear face masks and wash hands immediately upon returning to the family home. This is the choice of each family to make. Guidance is just that – it is there to guide you.
We understand that other countries have officially introduced some flexibility in their shielding advice. For example, Ireland are still advising strict shielding measures for the most clinically vulnerable people (although they are calling it cocooning) but have added that they may go for a short walk as long as strict social distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to. However, they still recommend avoidance of shops.
We do not as of yet have definitive answers about what will happen in the UK, but expect an update and more focussed guidance from the health service and government before the end of the current period of shielding (due to end on 30th June). Of course, we will share this with families as soon as we know more.
Please find the full ‘Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy” document below:
To find out more information on who should currently be shielding and how, you can read our article here.