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What’s the latest guidance on schools becoming Covid-ready?

The UK Government is committed to the full-time re-opening of English schools this September, for all pupils in all year groups. With some primary and secondary school children not having stepped foot inside their school since before Easter, this could be a daunting prospect for some.

Understandably, parents, children and teachers alike are both pleased and hesitant at the same time. One thing that is certain though, school for the new academic year will not be the same as it was in 2019.

What has the government clarified since its initial announcement?

At the time, declaring that schools were to re-open in the autumn seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Thankfully, the end of July saw more information being published by Number 10, to help prepare teachers and families for their imminent return to school.

Schools have remained open to some degree during the summer term, for vulnerable and keyworker children, so many schools already have one-way systems, hand-washing procedures and front-facing desk arrangements to help prevent the spread of the Corona virus. But with all pupils due back to the classroom soon, provision now has to be made for the whole school. Parents now face the re-introduction of fines for children not attending school.

There is a myriad of questions, queries and worries ahead of the autumn return. Below is the latest government advice for a few of these concerns.

Getting to school

For anyone travelling during normal rush hour before Covid, a packed bus of school children was a common sight. This is especially true for secondary school children, who often use a bus to get to school on time. So, how are these concerns over virus transmission going to be mitigated?

  • There are recommendations that schools now have a staggered start and finish, which will make a difference to the number of pupils using public transport at the same time and during rush hour.
  • Encourage pupils to walk or cycle to school.
  • Children aged 11 and over should wear a face covering when travelling on public transport.

School trips

Alongside the postponement of in-school gatherings, such as assemblies, the government is continuing its advice against overnight educational visits, either abroad or in the UK.

The good news is that schools, come the autumn term, are now allowed to resume day-time educational visits, as long as the school takes note of the COVID-secure measures.

Ofsted inspections

For state schools, routine Ofsted inspections will remain suspended for the autumn term. Your school may still receive an Ofsted inspector, but this will be more in line with a collaborative discussion and will not be a recorded judgement.

For further information, and more in-depth detail, on getting your school COVID-ready for the autumn term, please refer to the gov.uk website.

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