Preparing your school for full opening from September 2020
Government advice is being updated often and therefore all government guidance is not reproduced here but is available on the Government's website.
Staffordshire Schools should also note the communications from Assistant Director for Education Strategy and Improvement and the SCC Transport team.
This document is version 5 in a series of guidance support document issues since March 2020, this version now includes information for the full opening of schools in Sept 2020.
Some schools will have remained open during the period of lockdown and others will have been closed, therefore the implementation of this guidance may vary depending upon the status of each school.
Preparing premises and school sites for wider opening
Numerous premises checks are required in schools throughout the year. Premises checks include:
- statutory checks and thorough examinations such as water system safety testing, emergency lighting and lifting equipment checks.
- management checks such as inspections of work equipment (ladders), school curriculum equipment (PE equipment) and premises features (fire doors/playgrounds)
For all schools, where inspection and checks have continued during the lockdown or partial closures, schools are advised to continue with these once wider opening commences.
Schools who have not continued with statutory checks may have further work to do in re-commissioning plant and equipment prior to wider opening or may have to discontinue use of items/equipment until they can be inspected and checked. Schools are advised to refer to their property services provider for information on what might be required if statutory checks are not taking place.
In addition to the Government Guidance linked above, the Dept for Education Guidance Managing school premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak Updated 7 July 2020 contains advice on premises requirements and checks for schools which must be in place.
Where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units. Prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation. Where windows cannot open due to mechanical failure seek support for your property service to arrange repairs. Where mechanical ventilation is in place this should be checked to ensure it is in working order.
When considering outside spaces for curriculum activities or for exercise and breaks, grounds and locations must be suitably checked for defects and any hazards removed. Schools will already have visual checks of outside areas in place alongside more regular recorded checks, these should continue, and any other areas brought into use added to the checking procedures.
Consideration should be given within the setting risk assessment on management of these activities (use by groups), and the cleaning of contact points. Some shared equipment may need to be taken out of use if this cannot take place.
Outdoor equipment / toys should not be used unless the school is able to ensure that it is appropriately cleaned between groups of children and young people using it, and that multiple groups do not use it simultaneously.
Returning to school
Who may not attend school?
Any member of staff, pupil or member of the school community who is unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or a loss of or change in normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia) should not attend school.
Additionally, anyone who has someone in their household who has coronavirus symptoms must not attend.
Who can now attend school?
All pupils and staff are now permitted to return to school from September. It is recommended that individual risk assessments are in place for any person – staff or pupil - who may be at increased risk and this may include those who were previously shielding, are pregnant or those in a risk group. (See Risk Assessment below).
Part of any risk assessment will be the communication between school leaders and those staff and pupils (and their families) around how risks are managed within school. If people with significant risk factors are concerned about returning, the government recommends discussions around concerns and the measures the school is putting in place to reduce risks to reassure and give confidence that appropriate controls are in place. School leaders should try as far as practically possible to accommodate additional measures for staff where appropriate.
People who live with those who have comparatively increased risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) – see 2.2.3. can attend the workplace.
Individual risk assessments may be required for the groups below:
Shielding advice – children and young people
Shielding advice will pause on August 1. Therefore, most children and young people who were previously advised to shield, or who live with someone who was shielding can return to school. However, there may be some children and young people under the care of a clinician who are still advised not to attend and should continue to be supported at home with remote education.
If there is a rise in the transmission of disease locally, children and young people may be advised to shield during the period of the increased transmission and may not attend school at this time.
Shielding advice – staff
Government advice remains that those who can work from home should still do so.
Staff who are clinically vulnerable and staff who were designated as extremely clinically vulnerable and were advised to shield are now advised they can return to work (from 1 Aug) as long as they are able to maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
Government advice states that flexibility in how staff are deployed is required to enable staff to work remotely, or in roles where social distancing can be maintained.
Staff who live with those who are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable can return to work.
Staff who are pregnant should still follow the government guidance on clinically vulnerable people.
Staff who may otherwise be at increased risk from coronavirus (COVID-19)
Some people with particular characteristics may be at comparatively increased risk from coronavirus (COVID-19). These groups may include:
- older males;
- have a high body mass index (BMI);
- have health conditions such as diabetes;
- are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME*) backgrounds - staff member or family / household members.
The Wellbeing for Education Return programme starting in September – will support staff working in schools and colleges to respond to the additional pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a direct result of the pandemic, as well as to any emotional response they or their teachers may still be experiencing from bereavement, stress, trauma or anxiety over the past months.
Staff health and wellbeing
Governing bodies/boards and senior leaders must take positive steps to manage the wellbeing of all staff, including the headteacher and senior leaders themselves. Any working practices including flexible working practices/timetabling/start and finish timings must promote good work-life balance and support the wellbeing of teachers and leaders.
Workload should be carefully managed and schools should assess whether staff who are working from home due to health conditions or have individual risk assessments are able to support colleagues or manage remote education, while others focus on face-to-face provision.
School leaders are asked to review their Team Stress Risk Assessment with staff groups and any individual stress risk assessments as soon as possible in the Autumn term.
The government has provided a wide range of information and links on pupil wellbeing in their guidance. Government guidance also includes information for schools in planning likely mental health, pastoral or wider wellbeing support for children returning to school (for example, bereavement support). COVID-19: guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Information from the SCC Education Psychology Service for schools is on the COVID-19 section of the Staffordshire Connects Local Offer.
Where a child or young person has an individual risk assessment, has special education needs, disability or has an EHC plan, an assessment of their wellbeing must form part of that plan.
Testing for Covid-19
Anyone in the community who develops Covid -19 symptoms should be tested.
Priority access to testing is available to all essential workers and their households. This includes anyone involved in education, childcare or social work - including both public and voluntary sector workers, as well as foster carers. Essential workers, and those who live with them, can book tests directly online.
Education, childcare and children’s social care settings, as employers, can obtain a log in to a secure online employer referral portal, through which they can upload a full list of names of self-isolating essential workers that need a test.
Symptoms and actions to take
If a person has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, medical advice is to immediately self-isolate at home for at least 10 days from when symptoms started.
Anyone in the school community who has these symptoms should advise school and arrange to be tested (see Testing above).
If a person tests negative, other members of their household can stop self-isolating. If they feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, they can stop self-isolating.
They could still have another virus, such as a cold or flu - in which case it is still best to avoid contact with other people until they are better.
If they test positive, they should follow the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, any person whose household member tests positive for Covid-19 must also isolate for 14 days.
Test and trace service
Testing is now available for both adults and children and the government Testing and Tracing service is running. For further information see the NHS website or contact NHS 119.
When someone tests positive in the school community - or has visited school - the Test and Trace Service will be requesting information from the school about the contacts that person may have had and the school’s arrangements for risk control. For this reason, it is important that schools retain records of pupil groups/mixing and the contacts staff have with pupil groups and retain for at least 21 days.
What will happen if you have an outbreak in your school - information on Local Outbreak Control Plans
The Local Outbreak Control plans can be found on our Website.
If you have an outbreak you will be contacted by either Public Health England (PHE) or the local Authority Outbreak Control Team.
Settings are advised to report outbreaks e.g. where they have 2 or more confirmed/suspected cases within 14 days (linked to staff or pupils) to Public Health England and the Local Authority Outbreak Management Team. If they have a single case, they are also encouraged to report this to the Local Authority Outbreak Management Team for early advice and support.
Please report by emailing the council C19LocalOutbreakControl@staffordshire.gov.uk
The Education and Early Years LA Outbreak control team can be contacted on C19LOC.email@example.com
PHE West Midlands have prepared advice and a resource pack for schools along with template letters to use should an outbreak occur. These can be found on the SCC website links above. PHE and/or the Local Outbreak Control team will work with schools and advise how to use these if required.
See the 'response to any infections' below for actions to take if someone in school becomes unwell.
Home Testing Kits
As part of a government initiative schools will receive directly an initial supply of Covid-19 home test kits. Email notifications will be sent two days before delivery. Guidance on replenishment of kits will be published shortly. Once available, a stock of kits should be maintained.
Schools should only offer a home test kit to individuals who have developed symptoms while at school or college (or to their parent or carer if the child is under 18) in the exceptional circumstance that you believe they may have barriers to accessing a test elsewhere, and that giving them a home test kit directly will therefore significantly increase the likelihood of them getting tested.
Any school who issues a home testing kit should also inform the Education and Early Years LA Outbreak control team on C19LOC.firstname.lastname@example.org
Temperature checking does not form part of the government guidance and only covers one of the symptoms. If you choose to undertake temperature checks, ensure you have a clear policy on this, and it is done with the consent of parents. Good hygiene arrangements must be in place. The thermometer used must be of the non-contact type and must be recalibrated in line with manufacturer’s instructions.
General school and premises risk assessment
All schools created a Covid-19 risk assessment as part of plans for wider opening, these risk assessments must now be reviewed as part of the further planning for September.
We originally advised that schools create one risk assessment for Covid-19 rather than updating and reviewing all school risk assessments, and we would still advise that this is the case. However, from September, any existing risk assessments where control measures may need to be changed or updated as a result of the risks of COVID-19 must also be reviewed. An example may be playground risk assessments or Fire Risk Assessment.
Visit the Staffordshire Website to view the example template Risk Assessment.
The risk assessment must be adapted to ensure it is suitable and sufficient for the school and include the areas of risk specific to the school’s premises/activities. Risk assessments should be developed with involvement from staff groups and the identified control measures must be communicated to staff, pupils and parents as appropriate.
Key risk assessment steps are:
- identify any activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus;
- think about who could be at risk;
- decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed;
- act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.
Individual Risk Assessments
An individual risk assessment will be required for any member of the school community for whom Covid-19 may present a higher risk. This may include staff, pupils, or governors or member of senior or wider leadership teams if there is a MAT and anyone in section 2. above.
Review of any current risk assessments for staff or individual pupils may also need to take place prior to September.
Guidance on carrying out an Individual Risk Assessment for COVID-19 is available to view.
Example Individual Risk Assessments have been developed to assist schools in developing these assessments for staff. These can also be found on the page linked above.
Children and young people with SEND and education, health and care (EHC) plans
Guidance for settings supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disability SEND and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans includes reviewing and updating the individual risk assessment in place for those pupils. Guidance is clear that any return to school/setting of pupils with an EHC plan or SEND should be informed by their risk assessment, the needs of the pupils and the ability of the school to support their needs.
In September where a risk assessment is still required, Special schools and other settings should ensure that risk assessments for pupils are kept up to date and reflect any changes in circumstances, including a change in the Covid-19 threat level. Risk assessments are also recommended to continue when a child or young person remains at home, to ensure they are still receiving the support they need.
The needs and views of the young person, their parents/carers, social workers (if appropriate) and school staff and other professionals may all need to be involved in reviewing the risk assessment (and EHC plan) for a the child or young person in order to decide the most appropriate support for them and where this support is best provided (for example home learning or a blended approach to learning might be deemed as more appropriate in the short term based on a risk assessment).
Please see the guidance on Updating risk assessments in the SEND Guidance.
Risk Assessment - communication and consultation
Any communications regarding risk assessment and procedures to be followed around Covid -19 must be communicated to all staff, pupils, parents and other stakeholders as appropriate. This may mean signage is required in other languages, using pictures/symbols and other age, language or disability appropriate communications.
Schools should consider publishing a copy of their Covid-19 Risk Assessment on the school website. Govt guidance for other businesses requires employers with over 50 staff to do this as part of their guidance to those businesses, so schools should consider this is they have large staff groups.
There is no requirement to provide risk assessments to parents for specific activities that take place in school, but a summary document regarding what actions the school have taken around risk assessments may be appropriate in this situation.
Headteacher and school leaders are also reminded that where trade union representation is in place in school, school leaders should discuss the plans for reopening with trades union representatives and that they may wish to carry out a health and safety inspection prior to the school being reopened.
System of controls and protective measures
As part of a framework of protective measures schools are asked to minimise the number of contacts a pupil has in the school day from September.
A system of controls is included in government guidance that all schools are asked to include in their risk control measures from September. They are grouped into “prevention” actions and “response to any infection”.
Response to any infection
This must be followed if a case of infection arises:
- Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
- Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community
- Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice
These are all considered below in more detail.
Actions 1-4 must be in place at all times
Ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms (or family contacts who do) do not attend school
Schools must ensure that all members of the school community are aware that no-one should attend the school if they feel unwell with Covid-19 symptoms. If staff or pupils report any symptoms of coronavirus in themselves or other family members, or they have tested positive for the virus they must not attend. What happens if someone becomes unwell at an educational or childcare setting?
Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual
Hand washing is one of the key risk control measures for Covid -19 so the school must put in place adequate hand washing facilities and hand washing routines following the available guidance. Ensure that all adults and children frequently wash their hands with soap and water often for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
Children and young people will require supervision and reminders of frequency of hand washing regularly. Where the numbers of washing facilities such as sinks are not sufficient or near enough to rooms or classrooms, consider the use of additional portable hand washing stations or provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments, including outside.
Also note that hand sanitiser should not be used on dirty hands and the exclusive use of hand sanitiser should be discouraged - use soap and water after 5 uses of sanitiser.It is recommended that hand sanitiser stations are available at all main entrance and exit points.
Robust respiratory hygiene (catch it, bin it, kill it)
Adopt the “catch it kill it bin it” approach as part of everyday routines in school. Younger pupils or those with complex needs may need to be supported with this – include this in individual risk assessments if necessary. Ensure there are sufficient bins, ideally with pedal operation around the school. Effectively dispose of rubbish.
As part of the effective infection protection and control measures an enhanced cleaning schedule using standard cleaning products should be implemented.
- Frequently touched surfaces
As part of this enhanced cleaning schedule, schools must regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and rooms and shared areas used by different groups. This is more important as group sizes change from the summer term and more pupils and staff return to school in the Autumn.
Frequently touched surfaces may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- door handles/touch plates
- sinks and toilets
- light switches
- handrails and bannisters
- electronic devices (such as phones, laptops and a computers)
When cleaning, use the usual products, like detergents and bleach, as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on frequently touched surfaces.
- Resources for teaching and learning
Where different groups (bubbles) are using the same resources or equipment these can be shared within the group, but enhanced cleaning of these must take place between use by groups/bubbles. This includes cleaning of outside play equipment, toys, books, games and classroom resources.
Guidance states that Sports, Art and Science equipment must be cleaned frequently and meticulously between groups and bubbles.
Where the number of resources in use can accommodate this, using them in rotation, and isolating them after use for 48 hours (or 72 hours for plastics) could be considered.
Government guidance does allow resources to be taken home, so handwashing and effective cleaning must be emphasised where this takes place.
- Dining halls/halls/gyms and other shared space
Where groups are sharing dining halls/halls/gyms etc in rotation, government guidance suggest that there should be time allowed for cleaning surfaces in between groups. Social distancing should still be maintained where possible between pupils and staff and between older pupils where possible.
- Office workstations/laptops/computer use
Consider any arrangements you might need to make about the use of workstations/laptops and computers including hand hygiene considerations if equipment is shared. Enhanced cleaning must be in place in all areas where space and equipment are shared.
Classroom and other learning spaces should be subject to enhanced cleaning, especially if used for differing groups through the day. Again, if possible social distancing should be in place between staff and pupils, and between pupils if there is the ability to do so.
The use of toilets by children and staff will need to be considered to maintain social distancing and hand hygiene. Different pupil groups may share toilets, but these must be cleaned regularly and hand hygiene after using the toilet must be encouraged. Consider the use of paper towels and suitable dispensers and foot operated bins, non-touch soap dispensers.
Consider if toilets can be provided with seats with lids that can be closed before flushing? If so, provide signage in cubicles requesting lids be closed before flushing.
The safe use of meeting rooms/staff rooms must be considered and communicated to staff Agree a maximum number of occupants for each room and provide signage and where possible use tape or remove seating that should not be used to ensure distancing.
Provide hand sanitiser in meeting/staff rooms and cleaning materials.
Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms. Encourage staff to bring their own food which does not require any preparation or heating in communal facilities, if you provide communal facilities such as a microwave, ensure effective cleaning after each use.
Remove all communal tea towels, shared equipment and cutlery and provide paper towels.
Where possible staff and pupils should bring their own belongings to school each day and take them home at night-time, lockers can be used during the day for security. Handwashing after handling bags and belongings should be encouraged and sharing of equipment actively discouraged.
- Contract cleaning and catering
Schools must review the cleaning regimes required with any contract cleaning or catering companies and if they are directly employed direct their work to meet increased cleaning requirements AND review and risk assessment or COSHH assessments as required. (see COSHH)
- Further information on cleaning
Following a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), schools should follow the cleaning regimes and guidance in the government COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
Minimising contacts between people and maintain social distancing wherever possible
The overarching principle is to reduce the number of contacts between children and staff. This will depend upon pupils’ ability to distance, the school layout and the feasibility of keeping groups separate whilst delivering a broad curriculum.
For September onwards, keeping consistent groups is important, but schools may change their emphasis from the summer term and increase group sizes. Schools must also consider that in the event of someone in the group becoming ill and testing positive for Covid-19 the whole group may have to isolate as part of the test and trace process.
The government guidance recognises that keeping 2 metres distance may not be possible in primary school settings, in some settings due to space and with pupils with complex needs. In this case staff should avoid close face to face contact and minimise time within 1 metre of anyone. The risk will also be reduced with smaller groups. Older pupils may be able to and should be encouraged to social distance.
Principles to apply:
- Groups may be any size and may need to be year group size.
- Groups should be kept apart from other groups.
- Large gatherings and assemblies, collective worship should be kept to the groups/bubbles.
- Within the groups older children should be encouraged to keep distance with their peers, not touch each other or staff.
- Schools must aim to limit interaction, sharing of rooms, social spaces between groups where capacity allows.
- Indicate maximum capacity and use floor markings to indicate waiting spaces.
- Timetabling must consider keeping groups apart and how to minimise movement of groups around the school.
- Groups may mix for specialist teaching, wrap around care and school transport. (see 13. School Transport)
- Whilst movement and passing in the corridor is low risk, schools should avoid creating busy areas of movement around access and exit doors etc.
- Consider staggering start and end of the day, lunch and break times.
- Ensure drop off and pick up arrangements are set to minimise gatherings and communicate this to parents.
- Manage visits to site by parents / groups – encourage appointment only meetings which can be manged using social distancing.
- Staff - minimising contacts between people
The number of groups a member of staff supports will influence the number of people who should isolate if an outbreak occurs. However, in many schools, staff moving between pupil groups will be a requirement to be able to deliver the broad curriculum required. Staff may operate across year groups and classes and where staff move between these groups, they should try to keep 2 metres away from other staff and pupils.
Schools should plan the shared spaces used by staff to support social distancing and the use of staff rooms must be minimised. Staff must have breaks or reasonable length throughout the day.
Principles to apply in classrooms for staff:
- Staff keeping 2 metres away in secondary schools at the front of the class.
- Maintain distance from colleagues.
- Re arrange desks and classes to support social distancing – seating pupils facing forwards, side by side, removing unnecessary equipment and furniture.
- Peripatetic teachers and supply staff, specialists and therapists
- Are able to move between schools
- Must ensure they minimise contact and maintain distance from other staff
- Support for pupils with SEND from clinicians and other specialists should continue as normal.
For support staff, non-teaching staff, site-based contractors (catering and cleaning) and governors, arrangements will need to be in place to maintain the risk control measures principles of infection control in school.
Consideration should be given to having different arrangements for staff groups i.e. office-based staff and teaching staff and avoid interaction if possible. Alongside advice to schools the more general Govt guidance Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres provides more information on this. Consider any arrangements you might need to make about the use of workstations/laptops and computers both from the need for social distancing for staff and pupils (office areas/ICT rooms).
Where staff carry out more than one role in school leaders must have clear systems of controls in place across all the risk control measures and be aware that staff working across groups may affect the risk of transmission and could impact on any isolation requirements if there is an outbreak in school.
- Restrictive physical intervention/behaviour management
Transmission may occur during actions taken with behaviour management. Where possible, actions taken for behaviour management will not involve touching a pupil. It is advised that behaviour management plans be reviewed prior to pupils returning to school. Hand washing and respiratory hygiene as well as enhanced cleaning will also support risk controls.
Other people in school
- Cleaning and Catering contracts
Headteachers and school leaders must discuss with their cleaning and catering contractors their new arrangements for managing the risk of Covid-19. Cleaning contractors will have new enhanced cleaning regimes, and this may be alongside other cleaning being done by school staff – thy must be able to maintain distance between themselves and pupils and other adults in the school setting.
- Visitors, parental contact and non-essential visits to site
Schools should consider carefully which visitors may access their site and if these visits are necessary.
As far as possible contact with visitors, parental meetings and attendance by colleagues not school based should be undertaken remotely, by phone or video call.
A record must be kept of all visitors (including professional visitors/support services personnel/contractors) to school sites as this may be required for test and trace. These should be retained for 21 days.
Where visitors/parents must enter the school premises arrangements must be in place to manage social distancing and good hygiene. Multi-use signing in sheets/pens should not be used, waiting areas must be managed and clear directions and signage must be in place.
Consideration should be given to staggering times when parents arrive and depart the school site from drop off and pick up for younger pupils, and schools must clearly communicate these arrangements.
Consider the risk of operating a school reception area and avoid this where possible by using remote communication and signage, use of telephone meetings or where someone must access the site communication on site by radio or phone. Consider reception sneeze screens if they are appropriate.
Where schools are sharing a site or building with another organisation – such as a library/nursery, premises managers will need to agree safe working arrangements for minimising contact and maintaining social distancing which minimise risks for school staff and pupils and others across the site.
Other employers working on the site should share their COVID-19 workplace risk assessment with your setting so that you can co-operate and co-ordinate arrangements.
Response to any infection
When there is an outbreak a school must respond as follows:
- Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
- Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community
- Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice
What happens if someone becomes unwell at an educational or childcare setting?
If staff, young people or children become unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature or a loss of, or change in normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia) they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.
If a child or staff member is awaiting collection/waiting to go home, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away socially distant from other people.
If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.
When supervising pupils that are taken ill with symptoms of Covid -19 who need direct personal care until they return home staff should follow the PPE guidance.
Staff should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance which refers to cleaning following a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19).
If a member of staff has helped someone who was unwell with symptoms of Covid -19 they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the person subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below) or they have been requested to do so by Test and Trace.
What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a setting?
When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus (COVID-19), they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 10 days and arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19. They can do this by visiting NHS.UK to arrange or contact NHS 119 by phone. Their household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms. (See 4. Above Test and Trace and Local Outbreak Control for more information and reporting requirements).
As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
See also information on Local Outbreak Control Plans.
Schools with residential provision
Guidance on isolation for residential educational settings can be found on the Government's website.
PPE and face coverings
Face-coverings on Transport
The government has given advice to the public on the wearing of face coverings on public transport and in confined spaces. Pupils (over the age of 11) who travel to school by public transport will be wearing face coverings as this is now required.
For dedicated school transport, in Staffordshire, parents are asked to provide children with face coverings to be worn during the journey. (See also communications from School Transport and seek advice from the County Council Transport Team if necessary).
Where pupils arrive at school wearing face coverings schools must ensure that an appropriate procedure is in place to remove these safely and communicate this to all pupils and staff. This procedure should include reminding all users not to touch the front of the face covering when using or removing it, and how to dispose of face-coverings in school or store them during the school day. It is advisable that the procedure also includes when pupils or staff can put their mask on, including how they do this safely at the end of the day.
Face-coverings in schools
In England, the government is not recommending the use of face coverings in schools generally because the system of controls already recommended in Govt guidance provides additional mitigating measures.
From Sept 1 schools with pupils in Years 7 and above will now have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances.
Examples of circumstances where face coverings might be required by school leaders - in communal areas for both pupils and staff include:
- where the layout of the setting makes it particularly difficult to maintain social distancing when staff and pupils are moving around the premises
- where on top of hygiene measures and the system of controls already recommended, permitting the use of face coverings for staff, pupils or other visitors would provide additional confidence around the return to fill opening.
Face coverings must be worn correctly, and clear instructions should be provided to staff and pupils on how to put on, remove, store and dispose of face coverings to avoid inadvertently increasing the risks of transmission. Safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on.
Government guidelines state that on the basis of current evidence, in light of the mitigating measures education settings are taking, and the negative impact on communication, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible. Face coverings can have a negative impact on learning and teaching and so their use in the classroom should be avoided.
Where local restrictions apply - lockdown areas
Schools should take additional precautionary measures in areas where the transmission of the virus is high. These areas are defined as areas of national government intervention (lockdown areas).
In these local lockdown areas, in education settings where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. As in the general approach, it will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
In the event of new local restrictions being imposed, schools will need to communicate quickly and clearly to staff, parents, pupils and learners that the new arrangements require the use of face coverings in certain circumstances.
Access to face coverings
Where any pupil or staff member is struggling to access a face covering, or where they are unable to use their face covering due to having forgotten it or it having become soiled or unsafe, education settings should take steps to have a small contingency supply available to meet such needs.
Public Health England has made available resources on how to make a simple face covering.
No-one should be excluded from education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Guidance states that PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases in school:
- where an individual child, young person or other learner becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.
- where a child, young person or learner already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used as defined by their care plan.
Any PPE provided must have a CE mark on the item or the packaging and should be purchased in line with risk assessment needs. Home-made face coverings are not a safe alternative to the provision of Personal Protective Equipment.
PPE to be worn when caring for someone (pupil or staff) with symptoms of COVID-19
If direct contact (within 2 metres) is required until they return home (for example if a pupil becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in school and needs direct personal care) then the following PPE is recommended:
- a fluid-resistant surgical face mask
- disposable gloves
- disposable apron
If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.
How to wear PPE
Staff required to wear PPE for specific tasks/activities must be fully aware of the appropriate way PPE must be worn, including the correct way to put on and remove.
Face masks must:
- cover both nose and mouth
- not be allowed to dangle around the neck
- not be touched once put on, except when carefully removed before disposal
- be changed when they become moist or damaged
- be worn once and then discarded - hands must be cleaned after disposal
The government have not created specific guidance on the appropriate way to put on and remove PPE for schools, however, the guidance and films for care settings provide appropriate information for schools to use when using PPE for care needs.
A guidance poster is also available and should be printed off as required.
Some PPE such as eye protection can be reusable with suitable cleaning and disinfection.
Headteachers and senior leaders must ensure that they monitor the putting on/removing and wearing of PPE as required by local risk assessments.
Supply / provision of PPE
Headteachers and senior leaders must ensure that where local risk assessments identify the need for PPE, that there is adequate provision.
It is important that schools make arrangements for the regular ordering and provision of PPE to maintain supplies to meet needs. Please refer to the PPE Exchange for help in finding a supplier.
Details of suppliers used by Staffordshire County Council during the Covid-19 situation can also be seen on the SLN and the Staffordshire website – please see links below. If in the future you identify a shortfall and need support please contact the county council HSW Service on email@example.com and we will, where possible, support short term needs that are in line with current government guidance.
First Aid Provision
A review of the school’s Assessment of First Aid Provision may be required prior to the Autumn term to ensure schools have sufficient numbers of first aiders in school with the pupil groups in place. First Aid assessment must include the provisions required for EYFS.
First Aiders should be informed of the following key controls if treating a person with symptoms of Covid-19:
- Wear PPE as required in 9.2 above.
- When performing CPR phone an ambulance and use compression only CPR until the ambulance arrives. Use a cloth or towel to cover the casualty’s mouth and nose while still permitting breathing
First Aid rooms and First Aid Kits must be provided with the required PPE for First Aiders to access as needed.
Schools should continue to administer medication as required and follow their usual procedures, maintaining social distancing where possible.
Where an increased risk is identified then this should be reviewed on a risk assessment basis. Assess PPE requirements (if any) for staff administering medication. PPE requirements should be maintained where this was already in use.
Ensure that medical rooms and any adjacent toilet facilities are subject to the enhanced cleaning regimes in place and that surfaces are cleaned often during the day when rooms are in use.
Ensure and encourage handwashing for all staff and pupils using these areas.
Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH)
The use of any substances and chemicals used in school must be risk assessed.
Cleaning and catering staff – COSHH Assessments
Increased cleaning will be taking place during this period and school cleaners, contractors and catering staff must have a COSHH assessment in place for any cleaning substances/ substances hazardous to health in use.
Staff use of substances - COSHH Assessments
Any new substances brought to site must be risk assessed, this requires a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to be obtained and a risk assessment of the use of the substance to be carried out, NOTE an SDS is not a COSHH assessment. Staff will also be undertaking some cleaning (e.g. their own workspaces for example) so a COSHH assessment for substances used should be in place and communication of the control measures in a COSHH assessment must be given to all staff using the substances.
Hand Sanitiser COSHH Assessment
An example hand sanitiser risk assessment is available. Schools supported by the HSW Service can view this on our website.
Bringing substances into school from home
Individual staff may also wish to bring substances to school to clean their personal belongings. In this situation, if school leaders permit these substances to be brought to site, all good practice and usual arrangements must apply, and permission granted for their use once a COSHH assessment has taken place.
Some pupils may wish to have their own hand sanitiser with them for personal use. This may be beneficial for pupils with allergies etc. Your settings policy on this should be considered and clearly communicated to parents. Pupils should be self-sufficient in being able to use and apply these safely.
School Transport and Government Travel Guidance for Educational settings
Please see section 9. for information on face-coverings on school transport.
Government guidance on school transport is available on the Government's website.
Schools should refer to this guidance and any guidance from the School Transport team or transport provider on how this will be managed.
PE/Sport / outdoor games and extracurricular sports
Schools can arrange and timetable PE and sports whilst following the system of controls they have in place.Principles to follow:
- Keep pupils in small consistent groups
- Equipment used must be thoroughly cleaned between groups
- Avoid contact sports
- Prioritise outdoor sports
- Where sports take place inside, maximising distance between people and scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene is required
- External facilities can be used, and government guidance on transport must be followed if transport is used.
External sports coaches
External coaches can be used where it is safe to do so within the school’s protective measures and should consider how the external provider will deliver their activities safely. Risk assessments should also be provided by external providers for school to make these decisions.
Government guidance states that particular care should be taken to observe social distancing in the case of a sports setting because of the way in which people breathe more heavily and more rapidly during exercise.
In addition, schools should assure themselves that any sports providers are working within the guidance recommended by the Government for indoor sports providers and for providers of outdoor facilities. Providers of sports activities may also wish to refer to guidance from Sport England, and advice from organisations such as the Association for Physical Education and the Youth Sport Trust. See the above document for the further links to these organisations in section ‘Providers of music, dance and drama or sports provision’.
The information below must also be considered for in house supply of these activities if they are carried out by school employed staff.
School leaders should discuss with cleaning contractors how they will be operating, managing and using work equipment and how they will carry out infection control, hand hygiene and social distancing during their work and in work areas. The hazard exchange process should assist to record both the contractor and school arrangements.
Schools should also discuss with cleaners what type of cleaning will also be carried out by others (such as school staff) during the day and ensure that all those carrying out cleaning duties are aware of who has responsibility for each type of cleaning to ensure that all enhanced and essential cleaning is completed. Cleaning must form part of the premises monitoring process.
Note that the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service advice (pre Covid-19) is that school staff should not be using contractor equipment and visa-versa. If cleaning equipment is being shared then this should be stopped if possible, if this cannot be avoided then enhanced cleaning of equipment between the two groups must take place.
In addition to the above measures (in Cleaning) catering operations can continue and must follow the government guidance in place for food business. During this process schools should discuss how cleaning and catering contractors will review their risk assessments and COSHH assessments and this should also be conducted via a hazard exchange process. (see also Cleaning and COSHH).
How pupils interact with Catering staff and catering processes such as payment, the use of utensils and crockery, seating areas, queuing for food and the disposal of packaging etc must be considered as part of the risk assessment process for Covid -19. Schools must ask any catering supplier to adhere to any school procedures and discuss any additional measures requested by their catering contractor.
Premises and maintenance Contractors
To ensure your site can continue to operate safely, contractors may need to be working on your school site. Contractors must be made aware of the school’s risk control arrangements and how to access and move around the site.
You must ensure that your contractor arrangements are updated and ensure that a hazard exchange process takes place and contractors highlight to you how they will manage the risk of Covid-19 for their own work and for your school community. If you are permitting contractors to use site facilities such as toilet / rest areas, consider how you will maintain both social distancing and effective hygiene arrangements. Additional provision for toilets and handwashing may need to be arranged by contractors for works which will continue for a longer period.
Planned building and construction work
It is recommended that Headteachers and school leaders revisit planning for any projects or building works which were suspended during lockdown, are in progress or scheduled to start. Review the hazard exchange process any site arrangements you have previously discussed in the context of government and public health guidance and the presence of staff and pupils on site. How will contractors receive deliveries, control risk to themselves and other and how will they communicate with you? Especially review the permission you have given contractors to site facilities such as toilet / rest areas and if so, how you will maintain both social distancing and hygiene arrangements.
Schools should consider carefully whether Lettings will be appropriate at this time and consider the arrangements they wish to have in place to minimise the risk of exposure to Covid-19 virus.
Lettings of internal rooms and facilities should be discouraged.
Where lettings are using outside areas for sporting activities the risk of interaction with school premises such as touchpoints on gates/doors should be assessed. This information should be included in any risk assessments you have in place.
If you continue with Lettings, please ensure that you:
- carry out and record your hazard exchange process;
- consider enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures after a letting, and;
- discuss and record how those letting your premises will manage the risk of Covid-19 for themselves and for your school community.
Fire, security, accident reporting and emergency procedures
In an emergency, for example, an accident or fire, people do not have to follow social distance measures stay 2m apart if it would be unsafe to do so.
The fire and emergency arrangements for school must remain in place. Where there is a change of use of classroom areas, or routes around school, Headteachers and school leaders MUST take account of this is in any review of Fire Evacuation procedures and communicate to all staff and pupils who might be affected. Consider additional signage and education about any changes.
Fire drills must take place at least once per year (termly where possible).
Consideration must be given to how Fire Drills can be carried out safely, keeping to social distancing measures and minimising mixing and contact between groups. This may mean organising and managing drills differently such as group by group/slow motion walking drills/drills on different days etc.
Any personal evacuation plans (PEEPS) must be reviewed and implemented.
Fire Risk Assessment
Fire Risk Assessments and supporting procedures must be review if social distancing arrangements result in any alterations to the building, layout or actions that could be impact on fire safety. Arrangements put in place must not impact negatively on fire safety arrangements.
Any Security Alert/terrorism arrangements should be re visited and reviewed, so that staff and pupils know how these will operate during this time.
Accidents should be reported and investigated in the normal way and reported using MyH&S.
For those schools supported by the HSW Service, please report any diagnosed case of Covid-19 to the Health and Safety Duty Officer and if requested to do so record in MyH&S – this is in addition to any reporting via Public Health or the Local Outbreak team. If any staff members are confirmed as having contracted COVID-19 and it is considered that this may be linked to exposure at work this must be investigated and may be reportable to the HSE under the RIDDOR regulations.
Education visits overnight are still not advised. Day trips are permitted and schools should continue to risk assess educational visits as before and include appropriate Covid-19 risk control measures in their planning.
Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often or differently than usual. There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a school.
Schools may need to consider any control measures for the times where children are changing from uniforms to PE /sports kits – particularly where younger children need help with this and the need for space to socially distance especially for older children. Schools may wish to consider that pupils wear PE kit all day on those days.
Wrap around care and extracurricular provision
Breakfast clubs and after school provision can resume from September. Schools are asked to keep their groups and bubbles together as much as possible, if this cannot be done to use smaller consistent groups. Schools should also be aware of the guidance for protective measures for out of school settings (Updated 20 August 2020) which is aimed for summer holiday childcare has now been extended to extend its applicability into the autumn school term.
Music and singing - further guidance to be published
Children and young people can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with the protective measures outlined in this guidance.
Schools and providers must pay strict attention to the working safely in performing arts guidance to mitigate any cumulative risks of aerosol transmission.
Although singing and playing wind and brass instruments do not present a higher risk than speaking, for example, studies have indicated that there may be a cumulative risk that can build in particular contexts. As such with appropriate safety considerations, singing, wind and brass teaching can take place.
Steps to mitigate the potential aggregate risk of aerosol transmission could include:
- limiting the number of children singing or playing together as far as possible and ensuring that children attending are in small groups of no more than 15, with the same children each time wherever possible and at least one staff member
- children are socially distanced (2 metres apart), are outside or in a well-ventilated room
- they are not singing loudly
The Government summary guidance states that overall measures will include the following measures when children are singing or playing wind or brass instruments:
- Social distancing is observed at all times whilst playing wind or brass instruments or singing (2 metres, wherever possible, or 1 metre with robust risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable)
- Back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) is used whenever possible
- Activities creating aerosol are discouraged, such as shouting or singing loudly - we advise providers to use microphones where possible or encourage children to sing quietly
- Singing or playing wind or brass instruments outdoors, wherever possible
- If playing wind or brass instruments indoors or singing indoors, you should limit the number of children attending to account for ventilation of the space and the ability to social distance
- Take steps to improve ventilation as far as possible and whenever possible, either through the use of mechanical systems and/or opening windows and doors
- If hosting a performance, limit as far possible the number of performers and audience members – this must form part of the overall risk assessment and include all social distancing measures including how people will access and leave premises and use facilities etc.
- Steps are taken to encourage audiences to support the overall safety of the event, including seating individuals rather than allowing them to stand (to help maintain social distancing) and the other mitigations outlined in the guidance
Continue to take the other vital steps including preventing unwell people from attending, maintaining cleanliness, supporting contact tracing and other mitigating measures
More information on Providers offering music, dance and drama activities for children and young people is due to be published shortly.
Staffordshire County Council, Health, Safety and Wellbeing Service
Staffordshire Place, Tipping Street, Stafford, ST16 2DH.
Version 1 - May 2020
- Changes made to include new Guidance for secondary school provision from 15 June 2020 and Supporting children and young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening
Version 3 - 5 June 2020
- New section 3.2 testing Section 12.1. What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a setting? And added links here to Local Outbreak Control Plan.
Version 4 - 8 July 2020
- Whole document revised to take account of government guidance from 2.7.2020 for full opening of schools in Sept 2020
Section on Test and Trace/Local Outbreak Control added and whole PPE section revised.
Version 5 - Includes Govt updates between 30 July 2020 and 24 August 2020
- Section 1 – Government advice on premises updated.
- 2.2.3. added to give examples of people with particular characteristics who may be at comparatively increased risk from coronavirus.
- Section 3 – Wellbeing – details added about new Govt Wellbeing for Education Return programme starting in September 2020.
3.1 New Wellbeing Action Plan launched by the HSW Service.
4.1 Change to Government advice that people who display symptoms of coronavirus must now self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.
- 4.2 Added clarity on record keeping with reference to test and trace.
4.4 Information on Home Testing Kits.
- 9.1 Section completely revised based on new Govt advice on face-coverings in schools from 1 Sept.
- 14.1 External Sports providers updated to include changes Govt. guidance.
- 15. Catering and Cleaning – additional information included in both sections to add further advice.
- 17.2 Change in advice on Fire Drills – reminder to consider how to organise fire drills whilst maintaining social distancing.
19. Section on Wrap around care and extracurricular provision updated to include changes Govt. guidance.
- 20. Section on Music and singing - updated to include changes Govt. guidance.