Following the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday regarding the further easing of lockdown restrictions from the 17May, we have updated our SEND and specialist settings - additional operational guidance: COVID-19.  

This guidance should be read alongside the main pieces of guidance for schools and post-16: Schools COVID-19 operational guidance and Further education COVID-19 operational guidance, which have also been updated to reflect the upcoming changes.  

Also updated yesterday was the guidance for Early years and childcare providersOut of school settings and higher education providers 

The key changes within the SEND guidance are: 

  • Visits to Special residential settings (chapter 4) – updated to reflect that family visits should be face-to-face wherever possible. 

  • Asymptomatic testing (chapter 11) -  updated to reflect that, where appropriate, we have moved to a home testing model for staff, secondary-aged pupils and post-16 students. 
  • Funding (chapter 12) – updated for the new financial year. 

  • Face coverings (System of Controls – Annex A) – updated to reflect that from 17 May face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils and students in classrooms or communal areas, in all schools and FE providers. Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms. In all schools and FE providers, we continue to recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).  

    The reintroduction of face coverings for pupils, students or staff, may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular local circumstances, such as variants of concern. In all cases, any educational drawbacks should be balanced with the benefits of managing transmission. The Local Action Committee structure (Bronze/Silver/Gold) should be used in such circumstances to re-introduce the use of face coverings. Immediate outbreak response (at the level of individual settings or a cluster of settings) remains for local Directors of Public Health to advise on. 

    We have also added additional information on transparent face coverings. 
  • Confirmatory PCR tests (System of Controls – Annex A) – updated to reflect that if a confirmatory PCR test is taken within 2 days of a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test, and it is negative, it overrides the LFD test and the individual can return to the setting. 

    In addition to the above, the schools guidance includes updated advice on: pupils who are abroad, domestic educational visits, wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity, music, dance and drama and school performances, pupil wellbeing and support, Ofsted inspection and transitional, taster and open days. 

    The FE guidance covers all the above plus updated advice on: sports, supported internships and access to work. 

           Please see the guidance on the COVID-19 response – Spring 2021 (Roadmap) for additional information. `

PPE Portal  

All Special Schools in England are eligible to access the personal protective equipment (PPE) portal provided by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The PPE portal allows eligible providers to order free PPE on a weekly basis for their Coronavirus (COVID-19) PPE requirements. 

Since January 2020, all special schools will have received an email asking them to register with the PPE portal. Those who have not registered will shortly receive another email invitation from This email invitation will be sent to the email address which your setting used to register with the DfE Get Information About Schools Database. This is the only email address which is eligible to register. Please ensure that you have checked your junk folder. 

If you have not received the email invitation or would like to change your registered email address, please contact the Customer Service team at 0800 876 6802 who will be able to help support you in registering with the portal. 

All other settings should refer to the safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings guidance to understand how they can access PPE to meet their Covid needs. 

Many thanks 

Special Educational Needs and Disability Division