Health and safety advice for schools
Guidance on preparing your school for full opening from September 2020
A new version of the HSW Guidance - preparing your school for full opening from September 2020 (364 KB) is now available to support schools for full opening in September. Schools should consider this alongside the government advice already published for schools.
World Health Organisation advice on the wearing of fabric face masks is available in both video and poster formats. Schools may wish to use these as advice to both staff and pupils to ensure masks are worn and removed safely.
Face-coverings in middle schools
When schools are in areas defined as areas of government intervention (lockdown areas), schools where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings must be worn by adults and pupils when moving around. In a Middle School, this would apply to some pupils and not others (those in lower year groups), therefore headteachers and school leaders may decide that face-coverings should be worn by all pupils in school during the intervention period.
When no lockdown is in place headteachers and leaders of Middle Schools will make the decision on whether, for year 7 and above the wearing of facecoverings will part of the requirements of the school and then optional to the lower year groups.
Our approach to the management of COVID-19 risk is shown on this document:
Webinars for headteachers, principals and school leaders of academies in Staffordshire and non Staffordshire schools are available to view on our webinar page.
Managers and headteachers are required to undertake risk assessments to ensure that they have identified and controlled risks from COVID-19 within their team.
An example risk assessment for schools is available. This has been updated in line with the latest government guidance for Sept 2020 full opening. This should be adapted by schools for their own use.
Individual risk assessments
National data and government guidance indicates that some individuals have been identified as higher risk from COVID-19. The guidance below supports the completion of risk assessments for individual employees regarding the risks from COVID-19. This has been updated in light of the the new national lockdown from 5th November.
Advice for the completion of COVID-19 individual risk assessments for staff
Managers are required to undertake risk assessments to ensure that they have identified and controlled risks from COVID 19 within their team and to provide assurance to the individual.
1. Staff who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV)
From 1st August the government shielding advice for those who were classified as clinically extremely vulnerable was paused.
From 5th November 2020 during the national lockdown the government strongly advise that the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable individuals should work from home and if they cannot work from home, they should not attend work during this period of restrictions. Therefore, staff who cannot work in their normal job role should discuss with their manager whether there is suitable alternative work.
A manager should create or review an individual risk assessment for clinically extremely vulnerable colleagues.
2. Staff who are over 60 or clinically vulnerable
Other staff who are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, may be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
Managers with team members who fall into this group, should complete an individual risk assessment with that person.
3. Staff who are from BAME backgrounds
Additionally, the Public Health England report Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 shows that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected.
This includes those who are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME*) backgrounds - staff member or family / household members. Therefore, colleagues in this group should also have an individual risk assessment.
*in the absence of formal guidance, we are looking at increased risk amongst BME communities in particular Black and Asian (African, Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese)
If individuals in higher risk groups (2 and 3 above) cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles in a COVID19 secure workplace.
Those with protected characteristics, including, for example, expectant mothers who are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found.
In order to ensure appropriate support is in place during the pandemic, managers must have thorough and sensitive conversations with their individual team members. The conversations must identify if individuals have any health conditions or risk factors that may place them in any of the higher risk groups or risk factors that may increase the risks for them in undertaking their frontline roles. Individuals are not required to provide detailed information about health conditions to managers. It is for the individuals to choose what information they are prepared to reveal, however individuals must be aware that managers cannot provide adequate controls if they are not informed that someone is in one of the higher risk groups.
Most importantly, the conversations should also, on an ongoing basis, consider the feelings of the individual, particularly about their safety and their mental health. When completing the risk assessment managers must communicate and consult with the individual. Managers are asked to ensure that the individual’s views are considered when completing this risk assessment. Individuals can also seek advice and support from a trade union, if they are a member.
The steps managers take must not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.
Risk Control Measures / mitigating actions
The control measures / mitigating actions that could be considered are:
- Working from home.
- Providing equipment to better work from home (in addition to those staff with ‘Access to work’ requirements).
- Meaningful work.
- Putting in place additional social distancing measures, and other risk controls.
- Making adjustments to the role e.g. limiting exposure to the public, working in alternative COVID secure locations.
- Providing further / adequate training regarding infection control, hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene etc (including any PPE required for the role) is in place. (Enhanced PPE is not recommended for vulnerable groups by Public Health England).
- Reviewing travelling arrangements. Can the individual have different start times to accommodate use of public transport or use other means of travel.
- Considering different job roles or redeployment to a lower risk activity as a temporary measure. As far as possible this temporary measure should be with the agreement of the individual.
If when completing an individual risk assessment, sufficient controls cannot be put into place to adequately control the risks identified, further advice may be sought from your HR, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service or Occupational Health provider.
Managers must regularly monitor and review the risk assessment with the individual to ensure that that it is operating effectively and adjust accordingly. Individuals should raise any concerns with their manager as soon as possible.
COSHH assessment for hand sanitiser is also available:
Note that Following widespread news coverage claiming that hand sanitiser kept in vehicles can pose a fire risk, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has refuted these reports and confirmed there have been no cases of such fires in the UK.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Schools wishing to access their PPE packs referred to in the guidance may do so by following the PPE distribution procedure.
Within each PPE pack you will find information and further links to help advise staff on how to put on, wear and remove PPE correctly. Schools should print off and display the posters as reminders in those areas where PPE is to be used (e.g. First Ad room). A useful training film (aimed at care homes but provides clear information on “donning and doffing” of PPE) can be viewed online from Gov.UK.
Guidance for schools on PPE suppliers has been sent to schools via email and is also available.
Assessing PPE requirements during COVID-19
Guidance for all schools 18 June 2020
Remember - at all times - always maintain good hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene and avoid touching your face with your hands. Follow standard infection prevention and control precautions.
When to wear PPE
- Work activities even when you cannot maintain a social distance of 2 metres e.g. supervision activities, teaching. Where pupils are non-symptomatic
- When providing personal or intimate care, requires you to be in direct contact with the pupil or caring for children who regularly spit (e.g. touching, feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting, assisting in and out of hoist or chair, providing first aid treatment, where pupils are non-symptomatic). These recommendations below assume that staff are not undertaking aerosol generating procedures (AGP’s)
Disposable gloves and disposable plastic apron – required as per existing routine use.
Fluid repellent surgical mask – Existing routine use, during periods of national restrictions or when advised as part of local restrictions. You should remove and dispose of the mask if it becomes damaged, soiled, damp or uncomfortable. You may need to change your mask more often in hot weather.
Eye protection – May be needed for where there is risk of fluids entering the eyes e.g. when undertaking prolonged tasks near pupils or staff who are repeatedly coughing, spitting or vomiting). Use of eye protection should be discussed with your manager.
When carrying out aerosol generating procedures (AGP’s) This applies whether the pupil has symptoms or not and includes those in the “extremely vulnerable” group. NOTE Settings should be supported by local partners to review and build on existing risk assessments. This will allow the setting to consider any adaptations that they may need, for example, designating a room for undertaking AGPs, or if within a classroom, making sure that all other staff, children, young people and learners are at least 2 metres distance away (as recommended by infection prevention and control guidance and the system of controls set out) with a window opened for ventilation.
Disposable gloves – required - single use
Long-sleeved disposable fluid repellent gown – required - single use.
An FFP3 Respirator - required. You should remove and dispose of the mask if it becomes damaged, soiled, damp or uncomfortable. You may need to change or decontaminate your mask more often in hot weather. Important Note on FFP3 respirators - Users must pass a face fit test for that respirator model before it can be used. Face fit testing is available from the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service - contact email@example.com to arrange.
When caring for someone (pupil or a member of staff) with symptoms of COVID-19 and need direct contact until they return home
Disposable gloves and disposable plastic apron – required – single use.
Fluid repellent surgical mask – required. Can be used continuously while providing care, unless you need to remove the mask from your face (e.g. to drink, eat, take a break from duties). The mask is worn to protect you. You should remove and dispose of the mask if it becomes damaged, soiled, damp or uncomfortable. You may need to change your mask more often in hot weather.
Eye protection may be needed for some pupils where there is risk of contamination to the eyes from respiratory droplets or from splashing of secretions (e.g. when undertaking prolonged tasks near pupils or staff who are repeatedly coughing or may be vomiting). Use of eye protection should be discussed with your manager.
All staff should have infection prevention and control training that includes:
- Hand and respiratory hygiene,
- Use of personal protective equipment, donning and doffing procedure,
- Cleaning and decontamination,
- Waste disposal,
- Dealing with body fluid spillages and sharps injuries,
- Caring for a pupil or member of staff who develops possible COVID-19 symptoms whilst at school.
Disposal of PPE
Used PPE can be placed in a refuse bag and disposed of as normal waste unless the wearer has symptoms of COVID-19.
People with symptoms of COVID-19 - dispose as clinical waste where available or double bag and tie.
Bags should be kept in a secure location for 72 hours before disposal as normal rubbish.
It is recommended that you have date labels for the disposal of PPE to ensure that the 72 hour period is managed effectively.
PPE is only effective when combined with hand hygiene. Please wash hands regularly and before and after using PPE. Where access to soap and water is not available then hand sanitiser should be used.
A Hand Rub Poster is available on the Direct Gov website.
A Hand Wash Poster is available on the Direct Gov website.
Guidance on Donning and Doffing of PPE film can be viewed on YouTube.
Public Health England - reporting and advice
Public Health England (PHE) have produced a letter and checklist for schools with the emphasis on infection control principles which you may find useful.
PHE are requesting schools to notify them of COVID-19 situations by using the online reporting system or by telephone to 0344 225 3560 (opt 0 opt 2)
Heat-health risks & COVID-19: Actions to prevent harm
Public Health England have produced heat-health risks & COVID-19: Actions to prevent harm (396 KB). The document summarises actions to tackle the risks from hot weather/heatwaves alongside coronavirus guidance to keep everyone safe.
Other information on this can be found in the Public Health England/NHS Heatwave Plan for England.
Further information for schools and early years settings
Looking after children and those in early years settings during heatwaves: guidance for teachers and professionals.
Other useful advice
A guide for the reoccupation of premises has been created by Entrust for those schools who use Entrust Property Services:
Zurich Insurance have also issued a school reopening guide:
Schools should follow the cleaning regimes and guidance in the government COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
COVID-19 premises posters
The following social distancing posters are for use by premises managers who have completed their COVID-19 risk assessments and require signs to support their control measures.