06 July, 2020
Guidance was issued on 2 July 2020 for a full reopening of schools, special schools and settings; early years and childcare providers; re-opening of Higher Education buildings and the Further Education sector.
The guidance is quite detailed and varies slightly between settings. For most it will be effective from the autumn term but for Early Years and Childcare providers from 20 July will see changes in removing the requirement to keep children in small consistent groups (which appears to coincide with summer holidays for schools) and updated guidance on wraparound care which can open from 4 July. There are common themes though around steps to be taken to ensure that transmissions rates remain low; contingency planning for remote education in the event of local lockdowns or periods of self-isolation, action and reporting to public health in the event of some one contracting COVID 19; transport; assessment of pupils/students and provision of education.
The government have referred to a "System of Controls"; (1 -4 must be in place in all settings; 5 &6 applies in specific circumstances and 7-9 must be followed where relevant) which are:
Social distancing is going to depend on the setting. For younger children it is accepted they will be unable to maintain social distance and the suggestion is that bubbles can become a class group or year group and to try and keep the groups from mixing as far as possible. Resources can be shared but subject to more cleaning or taking out of use for 72 hours but the recommendation is personal items such as pens and stationary shouldn't be shared. School transport is permitted without the requisite social distancing but public transport should be avoided where possible.
Staff should keep 2m distance from other staff and pupils/students unless they need to provide care for pupils ion special school settings or AP settings; though they can teach across different classes. Those shielding should be able to return to work from 1 August when shielding is paused (subject to government confirmation based on transmission remaining low) but guidance will remain if they can work from home then they should. Live performances should not be permitted and there is to be further consideration of singing; using wind instruments due to risk or aerosol transmission (further guidance is expected) and pupils/students should work side by side rather than face to face.
There is also a strong focus on pupils/students health and well being and supporting the re-opening for these reasons.
There is still of lot of planning; preparation and new ways of working and delivering education to be considered in all settings. Consider your risk assessments; the guidance; consult with your staff, pupils/students and unions where applicable. Look at your ways of working and identify changes that need to be made for flexibility before looking at contracts or employment and considering changes to policies around flexible working; IT and computer use; safeguarding with remote learning and behaviour and code of conduct policies, Data Protection and supplier contracts to reflect the "new norm". If we can assist in any of these preparations please do not hesitate to get in touch - we remain in it together.
The main headlines in the different prices of guidance are:-