Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and early learning closures - guidance about key workers and vulnerable children

Published: 31 Mar 2020
Last updated: 10 Jul 2020 - see all updates

Guidance setting out the childcare and learning provision we expect for key workers and vulnerable children during closures of school and early learning and childcare (ELC) settings to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

3 page PDF

174.8 kB

3 page PDF

174.8 kB

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and early learning closures - guidance about key workers and vulnerable children
Free school meals provision

3 page PDF

174.8 kB

Free school meals provision during school holidays

Local authorities and schools will continue to provide lunch, or means to purchase lunch, for children and young people who are eligible for free school meals during summer school holidays.   

These can continue to be provided using a range of methods including:

  • cash payments to families of eligible children
  • supermarket vouchers
  • home deliveries
  • or through attendance at educational hub

These options are not exhaustive and there may be alternatives which would better suit local needs and circumstances.  

Local authorities, and schools will use different approaches depending on their individual circumstances and in response to local need. These approaches may also need to change due to health protection advice.

Read more information on eligibility criteria during school holidays.

Provision of meals for other members of the family in addition to children and young people

We have worked with local authorities to consider how to best to provide wrap around support for all members within a household that is at risk, this could include mitigating the impact of poverty, with support through wider community food provision, for example and maximising income such as through the provision of a direct cash payment. 

School food and drink nutritional standards

Although traditionally applying to food provision during term time local authorities will seek to continue to ensure that any provision of food is delivered in accordance with the School Food and Drink Nutritional Standards, both for catering services in hubs and for provision of food and drink to those at home. 

While it is recognised that there may be significant challenges in meeting the standards in full in the current circumstances, consideration is will be given to ensuring that healthy and nutritious options continue to be provided, within the current availability of provisions through local and national supply chains. 

Provision for special diets

Local authorities, ELC settings and schools will continue to ensure that pupils with special diets or allergies are catered for.  No matter which option is chosen to provide meals to pupils, care needs to be taken to check whether any pupils have allergies or special diets before food is issued to them.


Please contact your local authority for information about the arrangements they are putting in place. Read the contact details for your local authority.

First published: 31 Mar 2020 Last updated: 10 Jul 2020 -