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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.

This update includes the latest government advice on face coverings in 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.  

Risk assessments

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 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. Please refer to the individual risk assessment guidance. 

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 - No PPE required

  • 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 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 – required as per existing routine use. 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 – required as per existing routine use. 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.

  • 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 shss@staffordshire.gov.uk to arrange.

  • Eye Protection – Full face visor is required - dispose or decontaminate reusable items following completion of procedure.

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.

Infection control

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 

Premises management

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.

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