It’s that time of year again - back to school!
But this school year is a bit different to previous years. COVID has impacted the Education sector for a number of reasons, but looking forward - what are the measures in place to keep the students in your care safe? Most restrictions for children have now been lifted and they will now only have to isolate if they test positive for COVID, but there are still things schools can do to mitigate risk.
In England, secondary school students are also being asked to take lateral flow tests 3/5 days apart at school. Parents are being asked to consent and if a child tests positive, they will be asked to isolate. And across the UK, this voluntary testing will continue to be encouraged.
Staff and students in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland are being asked to take tests at home or community-based tests.
When a student tests positive
Unlike before, children will now only have to isolate for a period of 10 days if they test positive themselves, as coming into close contact with someone no longer requires isolation. This is to prevent large amounts of children from having to isolate at one time.
The parents and child will be asked to provide details of any of their close contacts and those contacts will be asked to take a PCR test.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland have allowed social distancing measures to be relaxed, and the responsibility has been passed to the schools themselves. Scotland is maintaining some restrictions until September 31st.
If you’re not sure how you can keep measures in place while remaining practical, you could consider one way systems, crowd control measures, layout plans to prevent crossovers of multiple students at one time and strict cleaning procedures.
In England & Wales:
Coverings are no longer required, but they’re recommended in crowded spaces such as school buses.
Coverings are recommended until the end of September (at least).
In Northern Ireland:
Coverings are required in classes for the first six weeks of term (at least).
CO2 monitors will be provided to all state-funded education settings from September [in England], so staff can quickly identify where ventilation needs to be improved.
Through a £25 million government investment, schools will be able to detect quickly where there is poor ventilation as well as reassuring staff that existing ventilation measures are working. These systems will allow for staff to identify where the airflow is limited and therefore where infection could spread quickly so that they can take action to improve it.
What else can we do?
Schools might also want to consider:
- Educating students on hand & respiratory hygiene
- Formal measures for contacting close contacts of positive cases - this has largely been passed to the NHS tests & trace system
- Signage, stickers and systems in place to keep students from congregating in large crowds
- Barriers and shields on places like reception
- Make sure staff are up to date with all their training and health & safety policies and procedures
Up to date Health & Saftey training is now more important than ever for those in the Education Sector. But we also can’t forget the importance of training for staff in areas such as Mental Health & Wellbeing in which we have a course specifically tailored to the Education Sector.
You can get instant access to any of these courses today…