29 October, 2020
The Health and Safety Executive is carrying out spot checks and inspections on all types of businesses in all areas to ensure they are COVID-secure. Specifically, they have indicated that this includes schools in England and Wales. This follows on from recent checks on schools in Scotland aimed at ensuring that they were implementing School Reopening Guidance.
If the Scottish experience is typical, both primary and secondary schools were contacted so as to get a broad and representative spectrum of schools.
Initial contact was by phone to check that COVID-secure measures had been put in place, and schools were categorised as to whether they showed a good understanding of the measures needed. 80% of schools were found to have a good understanding. Follow up visits were then carried out on the other 20%. No formal intervention was found to be necessary as a result of these inspections, with any issues being dealt with by verbal advice.
However, some general areas of concern arose including social distancing in staff room areas, cleaning regimes and ventilation.
Schools should revisit guidance on safe opening and ensure that it remains up to date and appropriate. More importantly, school leaders need to check that it is being followed by their staff at all times, including in staff rooms, and not just in the public and pupil facing areas of the school.