LOW-INCOME families will still be able to access free school meals for their children while they are away from school during the coronavirus crisis.

From Monday, March 23, all individual schools in St Helens will be closed for everyone except children of ‘key workers’ and some vulnerable pupils.

But children who are usually eligible for free school meals will still be able to access a packed lunch, although this will need to be collected from the school.

A spokesman for St Helens Council said: “A school meal provision has been put in place for pupils eligible for a free school meal.

“Pupils eligible for a free school meal that are away from the school environment can still access a meal, with family members able to collect a packed lunch directly from school.”

As well as children of key workers, children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and other vulnerabilities will also be able to attend school as normal.

The reason for this is because it is important children and young people with EHCP and other vulnerabilities to remain in familiar settings.

SEND transport to school provision will continue as normal.

The council has also confirmed that vulnerable families will still have access to the borough’s children’s centres.

Both the children’s centre and early help staff teams remain at the council’s two hub centres, Parr and Central Link.

The council said six other children’s centres also remain open “at this moment in time.”

“Both registered day care provisions within the hub centres remain open to offer support and care to our most vulnerable children and families,” a council spokesman said.

“In addition, the early help teams who are based in the children’s centres, along with colleagues from Merseyside Police and Department for Work and Pensions, continue to offer support to families in receipt of early help.

“A plan is currently being drafted to ensure those families who would have previously accessed targeted provision still have either telephone or face to face support if required.”

All eight children’s centres remain open between the hours of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Contact details for each of the centres are available on St Helens Council’s website.