New National Restrictions came into force on Thursday, 5 November until Wednesday, 2 December, to control the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This guidance is a summary of the issues facing schools, and suggestions on how to deal with them.
- Early Years and wraparound care
Early years’ settings and childminders may remain open, and parents will be able to access other childcare activities (including wraparound care) where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training, or for the purposes of respite care for carers.
The emphasis is still on school being vital for education and children’s well-being. It is still considered that the risk of children becoming severely ill is very low and that, for the vast majority, the benefits of being in school outweigh the low risk of becoming ill.
You should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in the government guidance (summarised on our webpage here). These measures provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for pupils and staff. If schools follow the guidance and maximise control measures, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively. Any changes required in light of the national lockdown should be put in place as soon as possible and by 9th November at the latest.
- Music, dance, drama
This can continue to be undertaken in schools provided safety precautions are in place, for example extended social distancing, limiting group activity, keeping music volume low (to lessen need to raise voices). The guidance for full opening of schools goes into greater detail on the steps that can be taken and it is likely that you will be familiar with the contents.
- Face coverings
There is no change to existing position for primary schools and below, it is still not mandatory for pupils staff or visitors to wear face coverings. Where social distancing is not possible then the setting may recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site.
For secondary schools face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the school premises, outside of classrooms and in communal areas. Face coverings should be worn by secondary school pupils and older when travelling on dedicated school transport to school or college.
- Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (“CEV”) Children and Staff
Where the doctor confirms the child is CEV, they are not advised to attend education whilst national restrictions are in place. Schools will need to make arrangements to enable the child to continue their education at home. If a child lives with a CEV person they should still attend school.
Staff who are CEV are advised to work from home. CEV persons will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or their GP. They should talk to their employer about how they will be supported including working from home where possible. If a member of staff lives with a CEV person, they should continue to attend work.
- Clinically Vulnerable (“CV”) Staff and Children
CV staff and children may continue to attend school.
There is no real change here : children and young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport. Face coverings should also be worn by pupils in year 7 and above when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary school or college. As before please note that people may be exempt from wearing such face coverings.
Travel in or out of local areas should be avoided, and parents, carers and staff should look to reduce the number of journeys they make - but travelling to deliver and access education is still permitted.
Staff, children and their parents and carers are encouraged to walk or cycle when travelling to and from school where this is possible, and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow social distancing to be practised.
- Sport and physical education
Although grassroots sport has been shut down, the guidance accepts that it is important that children continue to remain fit and active and, wherever possible, have the 60 active minutes of daily physical activity. Competition between different schools should not take place.
The guidance otherwise is unchanged, for example outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it is not, maximising natural ventilation flows (through opening windows and doors or using air conditioning systems wherever possible), distancing between pupils and paying scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene.
You may continue to work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular activities if safe to do so. Before and after school clubs may continue only where it is reasonably necessary to support parents to work, or look for work, undertake training/education or for the purpose of respite care.
There is no change to the position that exams are intended to go ahead next summer, as they are deemed to be the fairest and most accurate way to measure a pupil’s attainment. Most AS, A-levels and GCSEs will be held 3 weeks later in 2021 to help address the disruption caused by the pandemic.