Empowering families of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

CORONAVIRUS (covid-19): General Information

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West Sussex Parent Carer Forum logo

The information on Coronavirus on these web pages has been written and compiled by Reaching Families and West Sussex Parent Carer Forum using trusted local and national resources. Given the picture is changing daily we cannot take responsibility for the information or any actions taken as a result. We will be adding more information as and when we receive it so please keep visiting these pages to stay up-to-date.


see also Coronavirus FAQs >> Stay Connected >>

On this page: Basic advice / Keeping Well / SEND issues / Education / Other Resources


What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

We know that families caring for a child with SEND may be particularly worried about the COVID-19 coronavirus. We therefore wanted to share some information for parents and carers that might help. You can access current UK Government Guidelines and advice here.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The NHS has identified the symptoms as experiencing either:

  • A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • A new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Should I go to the doctor if I have a temperature or cough?

No. The NHS advise that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 10days and arrange to get a test. If you live with other people, they should also stay at home for at least 10 days to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. The NHS website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment) gives full details on when to self isolate and when to get medical help.

Picture Guides - click each image to open PDF in new window


How do I avoid catching and spreading the virus?

Currently the best advice is to follow the NHS guidelines. This includes washing your hands with soap and water regularly for 20 seconds - encourage your child to sing 'Happy Birthday' whilst they're doing it. If you are outside of your home, you can use hand sanitiser gel. Remember to catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue or in the crook of your elbow.

Carers and visitors

Agree a plan with any carers, including PAs, who enter your home and ensure they are strictly following the NHS guidelines. The NHS have published a 'Catch it, Bin it, Kill it' poster, which you could download and put up around your home if that helps.

Treatment plans and medical appointments

If you can, continue to follow your agreed treatment plan. If you have an appointment at your GP surgery or hospital, please check beforehand if you should attend.


Whilst there is no need to stockpile large quantities of medicines, ensure you have adequate supplies, especially of prescribed medication. If you run out, find out how to get an emergency prescription here.

There is a lot of conflicting advice around the use of paracetamol and ibuprofen to treat the symptoms of Coronavirus. There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse. But until more information becomes available, NHS England recommend that you take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.

If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.

Holidays and travel

If you are planning a holiday, or intending to travel, there is some useful advice on the government website. It also includes guidance for those returning from abroad.

Workshops, support groups & events

If you have booked to attend a meeting or event, please check before you set out whether it is still happening.

The health and well-being of our families is paramount to Reaching Families. We have therefore cancelled all our own events for the foreseeable future. Our office also remains closed until further notice, but we can be contacted via our email at admin@reachingfamilies.org.uk or via our Facebook page or group.

Getting professional help

If you think you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus, or if you have any non-emergency concerns about your health, that of your child, or those in your household (including family members and carers), use 111 online. Tell them that you are a parent carer and explain your situation. For emergency situations, call 999 immediately.

Where else to go for information and advice

There are a range of useful sources of information and advice available for those in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Reaching Families will continue to monitor the situation and we will keep you informed of new advice as it becomes available. To connect with other West Sussex families facing similar challenges, please follow our Facebook page or join our Facebook group which provides peer-to-peer support to parent-carers. We are also using our group to allow members to ask for or provide practical assistance and mutual aid during this difficult time.

Keeping Well

It's been proven that proper hand washing is our number one defence against the Coronavirus. But how many of us are really doing it properly? We found this really helpful guide on the internet, so wanted to share it with you.

6 Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way:

  • Step 1: Wet hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off tap and apply soap
  • Step 2: Lather hands by rubbing them together with soap. Lather the BACKS of your hands, BETWEEN your fingers, and UNDER your nails.
  • Step 3: Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds (I recommend 30 seconds or 1 round of the ABC song).
  • Step 4: Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Step 5: Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  • Step 6: Turn off tap with your elbows, wrists, or paper towel, not your freshly-cleaned hands!

Other Well-being Resources

Mindfulness guide for beginners: Provided by Stonebridge College

Video: How to mentally cope when schools are shut

Mindfulness Lesson plans: From LitFilmFest

Headspace is a global leader in mindfulness and meditation through its app and online content offerings.

40+ things to put in a calm down kit for kids: Free printable resourse from And Next Comes L


Coronavirus and SEND

Although it isn't possible for us to cover every type of disability of special need, we thought it would be helpful to provide some links to some specialist sites that might be able to help and support you during these unprecedented times.


Carol Gray's social story is a helpful resource for helping your child or young person with autism to understand the current situation.

Mencap have also produced a helpful easy read document.

Cerebral Palsy & Physical Disabilities

The government's guide on social distancing is a good starting point for people who are most at risk from the coronavirus.

Down Syndrome

The Down's Syndrome Association have produced an easy-read document about Coronavirus, which you can download here.

Learning Disabilities

The government has provided guidance for adults with a learning disability about social distancing. This could be useful for parents who have a child/young person aged 16+. It can be accessed here.


If your child has a profound and multiple learning disability, you may find WellChild, the UK Children's charity for seriously ill children, a useful starting point.


If your child's school is closed, or if you find yourselves having to isolate, you might find the following resources helpful.

In addition to the information below, Reaching Families have now published the first in a series of new fact sheets relating to the current pandemic. You can find the document, concerning Education Provision, in the coronavirus section on our fact sheets page.

Thanks to Fordwater School for producing the initial list that we have added to. It’s not definitive and not all sites are appropriate for all children, but there should be something for everyone...including siblings.

Fordwater School have produced this lovely social story which helps to explain the Coronavirus to children with SEND. Social Story - 'My School is Closing'

Also available are the following guides on dealing with school closures:

West Sussex County Council: Supporting children’s wellbeing.

Division of Educational and Child Psychology & British Psychological Society:
Support and advice for schools and parents/carers.

West Sussex libraries: Although West Sussex library buildings are closed, there are still lots of services you can access whilst you're at home.

Premier League Primary Stars: A wide collection of free, curriculum-linked activities to educate and entertain children at home.

Other Resources

Here are a few links to on-line resources that you and your children might find interesting over the next few weeks.  The list is not exhaustive and not all sites are appropriate for all children - but there is something for everyone.

Audible: A collection of free audio stories from across six different languages.
BBC Bitesize: Lessons, videos, activities and other learning resources all in one place.
Blockly: Learn computer programming skills - fun and free.
British Council: Resources for English language learning.
Big History Project: Aimed at Secondary age. Multi disciplinary activities.
Blue Peter Badges: If you have a stamp and a nearby post box.
Cbeebies Radio: Listening activities for younger children.
Compass Card: General advice on leisure, learning and lock-down.
Crash Course: YouTube videos on many subjects.
Crash Course Kids: YouTube videos for a younger audience.
Crest Awards: Science awards you can complete from home.
DK Find Out: Activities and quizzes.
Duolingo: Learn languages for free. Web or app.
Education Otherwise: A great site for all things relating to home education.
Futurelearn: Free to access 100s of courses. You can pay to upgrade if you need a certificate in your name. Children can have their own account from age 14+ but younger learners can use a parent account.
Geography Games: Geography gaming.
iDEA Awards: Digital enterprise award scheme you can complete online.
Khan Academy: This site is especially good for maths and computing for all ages and for other subjects at Secondary level. Please note that this site uses the U.S. grade system but it's mostly common material.
Mystery Science: Free science lessons!
National Geographic for Kids: Lots of activities and quizzes for younger children.
Nature Detectives: This site is run by the Woodland Trust. A lot of these activities can be done in the garden or in a remote forest location if you can get to one! Please note that, as of 16th March, the way the website is run has changed, and you may have to become a member to access many of the resources.
Openlearn: Free taster courses aimed at those considering Open University but everyone can access it. Adult level, but some e.g. nature and environment courses could well be of interest to young people.
Oxford Owl for Home: Lots of free resources for Primary age children, including e-books.
Paw Print Badges: Free challenge packs and other downloads. Many activities can be completed indoors.
Prodigy Maths: This is in US grades, but it's good for UK Primary age.
Red Ted Art: Easy arts and crafts for little ones.
Scratch: Creative computer programming.
Seneca: For those revising at GCSE or A level. Tons of free revision content. Paid access to higher-level material.
Teaching Packs: Learning packs to print out, there are LOADS of them and each pack can be tailored to different learners.
Ted Ed: All sorts of engaging educational videos.
The Artful Parent: Good, free art activities.
The Imagination Tree: Creative art and craft activities for the very youngest.
The Kids Should See This: Wide range of cool educational videos.
Tinkercad: All kinds of making.
Toy Theatre: Educational online games.
Twinkl: They are offering a month of free access to parents in the event of school closures. They also offer resources for children with special needs - look up SEN Resources on their website. Use the code UKTWINKLHELPS.

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On this page: Basic advice / Keeping Well / SEND issues / Education / Other Resources

see also Coronavirus FAQs >> Stay Connected >>