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COVID-19 support and information for families

Some events and services may have a limited offer at this time. Many phone lines and websites are still available, however some contact details may have changed. Try the organisation's own website if you're having difficulty getting through.

If you have any queries, please email us at

Adult education and apprenticeships

During the COVID-19 pandemic, adult learning in the City will take place online. Access the Learning in the City website(external link) and log in using your unique account credentials.

Advice for Early Years Providers

The following procedures need to be followed, should you have a confirmed COVID-19 case in your setting:

  1. If a child or staff member has a confirmed case of Covid-19, please contact the DfE’s helpline on 0800 046 8687 and select the option for advice following confirmation of a positive case. The line is opened Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 6.00pm, and 10.00am to 4.00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. (Official statement from Public Health England)
  2. The DSL then needs to notify
  3. The DSL will also need to complete the attached form and send it to and Ofsted.
  4. Ofsted will ask you to complete a RIDDOR report.

If you have any queries or need any further support, please email

The updated Standard Operating Procedure for education settings in the City & Hackney has been updated. You can access the link here.

The DfE has updated its latest guidance for early years providers (22nd September).

The main changes include added information on:

• the use and disposal of face coverings
• supervised toothbrushing programmes (section 3)
• process for local lockdowns (section 3)
• maximising use of sites and ventilation within settings (section 3)
• journeys, such as pickups and drop offs (section 3)
• a child with symptoms attending a setting (section 3)

The update can be found here.

SEND education during the Coronavirus pandemic

Due to COVID-19, schools have changed the way they deliver education; however their statutory duties for children and young people with SEND requirements remain the same. Our Team continue to be in regular communication with SEND staff in settings to support vulnerable children. If you have questions about how SEND provision and support is being delivered during the national lockdown, please speak with your school's SENCO or headteacher. If your child has an Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP) and you need further information after speaking to your child’s school, please email the SEND team.

Talking to children about COVID-19

Bereavement and grief

The coronavirus pandemic is now impacting on all our schools, families, communities and our way of life. The current situation means that there is an increased risk of critical incidents within school and the education community. This information provides support to settings when a member of staff or child/young person dies or is affected by the death of a loved one. Some sites offer specific content around Coronavirus and further advice on strategies to manage and support children and young people experiencing grief and bereavement.

City of London COVID-19 Critical Incidents Support

City of London - Supporting a Child Through Grief

Understanding Bereavement and Loss

Responding Positively to Pupils after a Traumatic Event

Bamestream Bereavement Support 

St Joseph's Hospice Bereavement Service

Advice for New and Expecting Mothers

If you are expecting or have recently given birth, advice and information is available here.

The Start 4 Life Q&A has just gone live which offers lots of useful information for expectant and new parents:

Breast feeding mothers can also access support with any feeding issues they may have  by emailing:

Free Healthy Start Vitamins for all pregnant women, new mums & children under 4 in the City. Please click here for more information. 

If you need any additional support, our Family Outreach Worker is available via email or telephone: 07912041669. Georgina is based at The Child and Family Centre and is available for information and advice.

Child and Family Centre update

From 12 April some drop-in sessions will be available. Take a look at the timetable to see what is running at your Child and Family centre.

Child and Family Centre Timetable

Lending libraries update

Barbican Library reopening

In line with the government COVID-19 roadmap, Barbican Library (including Barbican Music Library and Barbican Children's Library) reopened for borrowing and returning items, enquiry work, time-limited browsing and PC use on Monday 12 April. Access to the Library is via the Library’s Main Entrance on Level 2 of the Barbican Centre. This can be accessed via Speed High Walk, the Barbican Centre Ramp from Lakeside Terrace or over Gilbert Bridge.

The opening hours are:

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 11am – 3:30pm
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11am – 6pm

Shoe Lane Library reopening

On Monday 19 April, Shoe Lane Library also reopened for borrowing and returning items, enquiry work, time-limited browsing and PC use. 

The opening hours are:

Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 11am-4pm
Tuesdays: 12pm-6.30pm

Our COVID-19 safety measures will be as they were prior to the last lockdown and include asking all visitors to scan the NHS Test & Trace code or fill out a Test and Trace form at the door; sanitising hands; keeping visits to under 30 minutes (one hour for PC use), observing social distancing and the one-way systems and browsing with your eyes as much as possible. Unless you are a young child or you are exempt for medical reasons, mask wearing is mandatory.

For more information please see below the COVID-19 safety measures in place, in order to comply with Government and Public Health England guidelines:

  • All visitors will be asked to comply with NHS Test and Trace. If you can download the app to your phone and use our QR codes, this takes seconds.
  • Unless you are exempt or a child aged under 11 years, face coverings are mandatory
  • All visitors are reminded to observe the two-metre social distancing rule and follow one-way systems.
  • Library users can borrow books, CDs and DVDs but newspapers, magazines, study spaces and seating will not be available.
  • Library users will be asked to use hand sanitiser on arrival and use the cleaning products provided to wipe down ‘high touch’ areas, including self-service machines, with which they have been in contact
  • You may have to queue - the number of people in the libraries at any one time will be limited and customers are requested to restrict their visit to no longer than 30 minutes
  • Socially distanced public computers will be available for one hour slots.
  • Transparent ‘sneeze screens’ have been installed on all counters.
  • Items on the ‘returned books’ shelves will not be available until they have been quarantined for 72 hours.
  • Group activities will continue to be available online only.

We very much hope that recovery will continue and it won’t be long before we can return to unrestricted dwell time along with normal services and opening hours.

Artizan Street

We regret that in the last couple of weeks, serious problems with the ventilation systems at Artizan Street Library have developed. We are urgently chasing repairs but until the faults are rectified, the library will remain closed for safety reasons. We will let you know when they reopen.


We suspended the reservation system more than a year ago and have now taken the decision to reinstate it. All loans are currently due on 2 June 2021 but after that date, if a book is reserved for another customer, it cannot be renewed and must be returned.

Returns and renewals

We have temporarily lifted the upper limit on renewals meaning you can renew items indefinitely for the time being, if you are not able to come and see us for a while. Do check back as this will change in future. We will contact our users who have provided email addresses to inform them of this.

If you have moved house and/or are not planning on visiting the City for some time, you can return items by post. Alternatively, you can continue to renew items online or by phone.

Online services

Have you tried our new eBook/eAudiobook service from Overdrive? If you downloaded any items from the previous RB Digital service, they will continue to be available to you until your loan expires.

Over the past year, our incredible staff have been working hard to provide you with library services wherever you are. They have also been running a contactless home delivery service for housebound and shielding residents, making regular wellbeing phone calls to residents to ensure they are keeping well as well as providing an ever-changing programme of online events for all the family, including our Dragon Café “Wellness Wednesdays”. Until we are allowed to welcome large groups back into our libraries, all of our library events will continue online. To find out what’s on, do check the library Online Events page.

Finally and on behalf of all Barbican and Community Libraries staff, we’ve really missed our customers and we’re look forward to welcoming you back. We hope to see you in the libraries very soon.

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