Guidance for school management and staff relating to COVID-19

Guidance for school leaders and management during COVID-19 and in relation to the re-opening of schools from 1 June 2020.

Information and guidance has also been provided for parents or carers.

Last updated: 31 July 2020 (reviewed daily)

From 1 June 2020

As part of the government's plans to ease lockdown, schools and early years settings opened to more pupils from 1 June 2020.

Please visit our Parent guidance about schools during COVID-19 pandemic page for comprehensive details and answers to your questions.

We realise that the decision whether to send children and young people back to school at this time will not be an easy one to make. Government guidance has made it clear that it is not compulsory for parents to send their children to school at this time and there will be no penalties for families who choose to keep children at home.

Schools will continue to provide accessible opportunities for children and young people to learn at home and your school will explain to you how they plan to keep in touch with you over the coming weeks. To see which children your school is open for, visit our schools closure page.

As new details are confirmed, we will updated the FAQs below. Check the Department for Education (DfE) website on GOV.UK for latest information on schools, colleges and early years.

School bubbles, what should happen to the wider bubble if a child or young person in a bubble develops COVID-19 related symptoms

Where you are informed that a child or young person has COVID-19 related symptoms you should look at your risk assessment and follow the Public Health flow chart

What should I do if someone working in the school, or a children/young person attending is contacted by test and trace?

Consider when the individual was last in school and who they had contact with. You will also need to contact the Education Officers and Public Health England who will be able to advise you further EducationOfficersResolution@Suffolk.gov.uk

Can schools purchase hygiene products from Suffolk County Council?

Yes, schools can purchase additional hygiene products from Suffolk County Council, schools are able to purchase the following:

  • 10L (large containers) hand sanitiser to decant into smaller bottles
  • 500ml hand sanitiser bottle
  • Tubs of 200 sani-cloth wipes

An e-form will be circulated in Suffolk Headlines during the week commencing 25 May 2020.

I am worried, or I have staff who are worried about going back into school.

We understand this is a very uncertain time and there are a lot of unknowns. If you are feeling concerned about going back into school we would encourage you to speak to your head teacher discuss the measures being put in place to keep everyone safe. The Educational Psychology team have also prepared some useful resources for you to use. Find them on Suffolk Learning website.

What arrangements do I need to have in place until the end of the summer term (from 1 June)?

A – We know that there is considerable pressure on school and setting leaders when trying to prepare for the reopening their school to a larger number of pupils. Suffolk County Council has prepared protocols to assist school leaders in reopening in the future. These have been communicated through Suffolk Headlines and will also be updated here.

It is important at schools continue to communicate with parents, carers and supplies their plans to make schools safe so they are aware of any updates to procedures. We appreciate the hard work school leaders and staff have put in to the planning and preparations for possible wider opening of settings.

If you would find it helpful to talk with someone , please contact your SEO; SSEO or:

  • Francesca Alexander, LSEO: 01473 260753
  • Gill Larkin, Head of School Leadership Development: 01473 264154
  • Leigh Foster, LSEO: 01473 263142
  • Simon Nortcliffe, LSEO: 01473 264173
  • Su Harris, LSEO: 01473 264805

If you would like someone to talk to about mental health and wellbeing please use the leadership support line: 01473 265656 or Suffolk Wellbeing website.

I live with someone who is clinically vulnerable can I attend work since the school has opened wider during the summer term?

Please be aware the government makes a differentiation between those who are clinically vulnerable and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, it is important that you check the guidance to make sure you are following the most appropriate guidance for your vulnerabilities which can be found here.

The current advice from the DfE is if you are living with someone who clinically vulnerable you can attend work if, this includes if the person you live with is pregnant. We understand this is a worrying time for you and we would strongly encourage you speak to your headteacher about any concerns you have.

I am clinically vulnerable. Can I attend work since the school has opened wider during the summer term?

Please be aware the government makes a differentiation between those who are clinically vulnerable and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, it is important that you check the guidance to make sure you are following the most appropriate guidance for your vulnerabilities which can be found here.

If you are clinically vulnerable you should take extra care in observing social distancing and should work from home where possible. This includes pregnant women. Schools should endeavour to support this, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.

If you are clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) and cannot work from home, it is important you are offered the safest available on-site roles, staying 2 metres away from others wherever possible, although the you can choose to take on a role that does not allow for this distance if you prefer to do so. If you have to spend time within 2 metres of other people, we advise a risk assessment is undertaken and you and your headteacher discuss the level of risk involved.

I am extremely clinically vulnerable. Can I attend work since the school has opened wider during the summer term?

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are considered extremely clinically vulnerable you will have received a letter, although more information for someone who's clinically vulnerable can be found here.

If you are concerned that you are extremely clinically vulnerable but have not received a letter, please contact your GP.

Current DfE advice is that you can attend your school if stringent social distancing and hygiene measures can be followed. We would encourage you to speak to your headteacher about any concerns you have and work with your headteacher to put a risk assessment in place. If you and your headteacher find stringent measures cannot be adhered to the current advice is that you should not attend school. If you can carry out your work from home, you and your headteacher may agree for this to continue.

I live with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable. Can I attend work since the school has opened wider during the summer term?

Expert doctors in England have identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about the virus so far, place someone at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are considered extremely clinically vulnerable you will have received a letter, although more information for someone who's clinically vulnerable can be found here.

If you are concerned that the person you live with is extremely clinically vulnerable but have not received a letter, they should contact their GP.

Current DfE advice is that you can attend your school if stringent social distancing and hygiene measures can be followed, including children you work with being able t to understand and follow social distancing. We would encourage you to speak to your headteacher about any concerns you have and work with your headteacher to put a risk assessment in place. If you and your headteacher find stringent measures cannot be adhered to the current advice is that you should not attend school. If you can carry out your work from home, you and your headteacher may agree for this to continue/start.

What does the school need to do if a child becomes ill with symptoms while at school?

You should continue to follow the guidance, ensuring that the pupil is taken to a well-ventilated room and kept safe, and their parents/carers are called to collect them. If a member of staff has helped a pupil who was unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves or the child subsequently tests positive. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?

When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 10 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

I do not have teachers available to cover, can TA’s lead groups?

Yes, if they are working under the direction of a qualified teacher.

How can I reduce risk?

As you know it is important to put place protective measures to reduce risks, you can do this adjusting timings of the school day and agreeing this with the relevant body (such as your governing board).

You could consider steps including:

  • how you might stagger start and end times between year groups by a short period to reduce volume at the entrance
  • ensuring parents and carers are aware of recommendations on transport to and from school, which means reducing any unnecessary travel on coaches, buses or public transport where possible (for example, by walking or cycling to school) and avoiding peak times
  • using signage to guide parents and carers about where and when they should drop off and pick up their children - you will want to communicate this to parents in advance
  • working out arrangements for breaks or play times so that ideally only one group of maximum 15 children is in the same play area at any one time
  • ensuring that staff remain at a safe distance from each other at lunchtime or during breaks (including how to manage if your school has a small staff room or other staff areas)
  • arranging for assemblies to take place with individual groups in their allocated classroom spaces rather than bringing children from different classes together into one hall or large space

The Suffolk Principles and Planning document and the risk assessment checklist/template (as shared through Suffolk Headlines) have been designed to complement any relevant existing risk assessments and planning. There is no requirement to use these if the risk assessments that you have already undertaken covers all the aspects in the LA template. If you do use the template, it is designed to allow you to add any additional or setting specific potential hazards and control measures.

Should I be updating my behaviour policy?

Yes, you may need to update your behaviour policy to reflect any new rules and routines, and communicate these changes to staff, pupils and parents. Annex A in Planning Guidance for schools published on the 14 May 2020 may help you in this.

Think about if and how your school rules need to change. Any revised rules will need to be referenced in the revised behaviour policy with sanctions.

Consider how any new rules and routines will be communicated to pupils and parents/carers. Best practice suggests this includes:

  • proactively teaching new rules to staff, pupils and parents
  • regularly and rigorously reinforcing behaviour throughout every day
  • consistently imposing sanctions when rules are broken, in line with the policy, as well as positively reinforcing well-executed rules through encouragement and rewards

In readiness for September please refer to the behaviour and discipline policy on GOV.UK.

How can I support pupils who are anxious?

You could consider:

  • opportunities for children to talk about their experiences of the past few weeks
  • opportunities for one-to-one conversations with trusted adults where this may be supportive
  • some refocussed lessons on relevant topics, for example, mental wellbeing or staying safe
  • pastoral activity, such as positive opportunities to renew and develop friendships and peer groups
  • other enriching developmental activities

The Educational Psychology team have also prepared some useful resources for you to use. Find them on Suffolk Learning website.

What if parents do not observe social distancing at the school gate? Is it my job to enforce social distancing outside the school gates?

It is likely to be helpful to parents for you to explain clearly what the arrangements are for the start and end of the school day, and decisions you make about this should allow for the need for social distancing outside the school. Clear communication, including if possible or appropriate, through signage, can be helpful. Reminders may be useful as well from time to time.

Some of my staff have asked to have masks, gloves and aprons. Am I required to provide them?

We have published guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings. The guidance states that it is not necessary for staff to wear masks, gloves and aprons unless they are carrying out activities that would usually require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) or if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs supervision until they can return home.

You should use your local supply chains to obtain PPE. Where this is not possible, and there is an unmet urgent need for PPE in order to operate safely, you may approach your nearest local resilience forum.

Can I direct staff to come into school?

It is natural that some staff will be worried about coming into school even if the risks for them are very low. You will know your staff best and so will be in the best position to work out how to proceed in individual cases. We are working in an unprecedented context, and more reassurance and discussion than usual may be required.

It is always best, if at all possible, to work out a sensible way forward in individual cases that acknowledges any specific anxieties but which also enables the school’s responsibilities to be effectively discharged. If you need support in finding a solution, speak to your local authority or trust.

Is there any guidance for full opening from September 2020?

The DfE has published the following guidance for schools: Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak.

The LA has produced new principles and information to support Suffolk schools and settings in planning for COVID-19 pandemic response to opening to all children in September 2020 and a new local authority risk assessment / checklist template.

0800 046 8687

Open:

  • Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
  • Weekends 10am to 4pm

The helpline is for schools and other educational establishments in England only.

You can also email DfE.cornoavirushelpline@education.gov.uk.

Who can be tested?

School staff (which includes kitchen staff, cleaners etc) and leadership can be tested if they are symptomatic, this includes family members of staff, who are living in the same household.

When should I be tested?

Individuals working in schools who are symptomatic should be tested between days 1 and 5 of symptoms.

How do I get tested?

You will need to make your line manager aware you have symptoms, if you work in a school this will be your headteacher, if you are a headteacher this will be your CEO or Chair of Governors. They will need to use the GOV.UK portal to log your requirement for testing. You will be given a day and a timeslot which you should attend.

The facilities are drive through, therefore you will need to use your own car, if you are unable to drive yourself a member of your household will need to drive you. If you live alone and cannot drive a remote test will be made available.

How long will the test result take?

It will take 72 hours from testing to receive your result back.

How will I receive my results?

Your test results will be emailed to the email address provided at registration.

Will my manager get the results?

Yes, your manager will also receive notification of your results.

If I test positive what do I need to do?

You should follow the advice from the NHS which will accompany your results.

Summer Food Fund

As you are aware, the government has released a Summer Food Fund to supply children eligible for free school meals with lunch vouchers via Edenred over the summer holiday. Please ensure that you order these at least a week before the end of term to guarantee that your families receive these at the right time. These vouchers should be ordered separately to the existing national voucher scheme. You can order a single payment of £90 (£105 if you have a full 7 week holiday) or smaller payments for your families. A step by step guide to ordering the Edenred vouchers can be found here.

Should you be purchasing your own e-vouchers from a local supermarket as this is the best option for your families, you can claim back these exceptional costs from the Department for Education. Further information on how to claim back costs is available here. Should you need assistance regarding eligibility for free school meals, please contact the free school meals team on 01473 265975.

Are we able to re-open school playgrounds and equipment?

Guidance has been published by GOV.UK on the reopening of outdoor equipment in playgrounds. The advice includes the need for a risk assessment, cleaning, social distancing on equipment, and more. This is relevant to all schools as you reopen your outdoor play / gym equipment. Contact: Nina Bickerton, Nina.bickerton@suffolk.gov.uk

COVID-19 guidance for:

  • managing playgrounds and outdoor gyms
  • owners and operators of playgrounds and outdoor gyms to enable their use while minimising the transmission risk of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

If a child comes to school feeling unwell what should we do?

If a child becomes unwell at school please ensure you isolate the child in a well ventilated room and continue to practice social distancing measure. You must also make arrangements for the child to be collected and return home. We would also recommend continuing with rigorous cleaning practices.

Read the latest advice from Public Health/111 at GOV.UK.

Other illness such as sickness and diarrhoea please deal with in accordance with your school’s policy.

We have planned a school trip, should we cancel this?

Read the travel advice from Public Health/111 at GOV.UK.

Do school staff need to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

Current guidance from Public Health England does not require school staff to wear PPE. Pupils who are symptomatic should be kept at home in self-isolation. We want pupils and staff to remain safe and healthy, therefore schools should implement social distancing practices alongside good hygiene practices. Further information is available on the DfE website.

We will continue to review the situation and will update this guidance as needed. Currently the scientific advice indicates that educational staff do not require PPE.

Which parents are classed as key workers, and should I be identifying these parents?

The government has published guidance on who is classed as a key worker. Schools should refer to the government's definition of key workers.

Can the school use video calling and WhatsApp to stay in contact with pupils?

Schools should have in place an online learning platform that can facilitate learning and communication with pupils or the use of the school’s website. To safeguard both pupils and staff, schools should not use video calling and other social media platforms to keep in contact with pupils. Staff need to safeguard themselves and pupils during this challenging time and we are concerned that staff may make themselves and pupils vulnerable if they were to use video calling. School staff should not use their personal devices for contacting pupils or parents. Schools should never use WhatsApp or any other encrypted social media platform to contact pupils. The school should work to develop a learning package for students and then communicate this to parents.

The school should avoid agreeing different communication processes for every student and should ensure the suitability of modes of communication. All students should have fair access to the learning package being offered.

Are there any learning packages recommended by the DfE to support pupils?

Yes, the DfE have published an initial list of online educational resources covering various subjects and age groups that have been recommended by teachers and school leaders.

Bitesize Daily has been developed by the BBC to provide new lessons every weekday for pupils in Year 1 to Year 10. Created in collaboration with teachers and educational experts, videos and interactive activities cover core subjects and other topics on the school curriculum. Content is available for free on television, online and through BBC iPlayer.

Schools might also consider using resources from Oak National Academy, which was created by teachers from schools across England in response to school closures. This free resource for teachers will provide the equivalent of three hours of lessons a day for primary school pupils and four hours a day for secondary across a variety of subjects. Lessons have been devised by practising teachers, combining videos, quizzes and worksheets.

Find out more about remote education during COVID-19 at GOV.UK.

Where you have a concern about a child please continue to follow your usual safeguarding practices.

Where we have safeguarding concerns about a child and/or family should we keep in contact with them?

Where there are safeguarding concerns about a child, the school should continue to undertake regular checks to make sure the child is safe and well, in line with your Child Protection and safeguarding policies. Please be aware Suffolk County Council have updated Annex D of the model Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy

Where the school are aware of social care or early help involvement, they should continue communicating with professionals involved.

 Given the changes to KCSiE Annex D do SCC have an updated model policy?

Yes, Suffolk County Council have updated Annex D of the model Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy.

Should we be undertaking welfare checks on students and if so, how often should these been done?

If you feel that there is a safeguarding concern around the child, it may be appropriate to undertake welfare checks on the child. Outside of this we would expect schools to follow their usual procedures when dealing with children who are absent from school due to illness.

Where a pupil is dual registered who is responsible for their welfare check?

Where a child is dual registered it is the main school who have the responsibility for undertaking welfare checks in accordance with KCSiE.

Will school travel still run for children attending school?

With some schools still open we will still be required to provide transport for these students.

The schools will be contacting us directly to advise which students will be attending school, and their locations. This is a very fluid situation and we will provide updates on this.

For stability on Monday 23 March 2020 school routes will run as normal, except for those schools which are already fully closed. This may continue past Monday until we have information from schools as to which pupils are continuing to attend.

There are changes in the school’s operational arrangements, who do I need to inform at Suffolk County Council?

Please complete Suffolk County Council’s 'update form' on Microsoft Forms which has been sent to headteachers via Suffolk Headlines.

I am a headteacher and I need to self-isolate. Do I need to let anyone know?

We request if you need to self-isolate you let your SEO/LSEO know and email EducationOfficersResolution@suffolk.gov.uk

Can I ask staff to work from a different site if we are working with other settings?

National Unions are currently discussing this with Government. We will provide further updates accordingly.

Some of my staff want to offer their skills in a virtual way to children outside of the school via social media.

In order to continue to safeguard children and staff we discourage staff from doing this. Staff should continue to support pupils via the learning package offered by the school.

Support for School Leaders’ Wellbeing

We know that our school leaders are working incredibly hard and may be experiencing high levels of anxiety. Support for headteachers and other school leaders in this challenging time has been established with and to support from the headteacher associations. 

If you feel you would like wellbeing support you can:

Download looking after your mental health and wellbeing (PDF, 1.8MB)

What additional precautions should we take if there is a need to visit the homes of pupils/families to check on the welfare of pupils?

If staff carry out home visits, they should carry anti-bacterial wipes with them to ensure they are able to clean their hands. After knocking on the door, they should step back to a distance of at least 2 metes. When the door is answered they should enquire whether anybody in the home is symptomatic. Staff should risk assess any home visit and take into account the school’s usual safeguarding protocols with the addition of extra precaution in relation to COVID-19.

You may like to consider keeping a log of where staff have listed, and times so movements can be reviewed should anyone become ill.

How can I support my pupil’s wellbeing?

We know that this is a very difficult time for children and young people, the engagement hub has lots of fun resources which you might like to share with your parents.

‘The Art of being 2 Metres Apart’ - a time capsule competition that reflects the time a virus came to Suffolk

The idea behind this time capsule competition is to help children and young people to express and share their feelings during this difficult time through Art, Music or Creative Writing, which could be reflections on current daily life, ways in which we are adapting and how we are managing our fears and hopes. Also, to gather advice for future generations should they face a pandemic or significant period of change again.

The competition is now live for young people to enter. Full details can be found at thesource.me.uk/timecapsule.

The 30 Day Whats Up Challenge - it’s 30 simple things to support young people’s emotional wellbeing

This is a social media campaign where for 30 days we will post a daily challenge for young people to do with family and friends on The Source Facebook page. The re-launch of this campaign includes new challenges to help young people stay well at home. 

The challenge will start on 20 April 2020. Full details can be found at thesource.me.uk/whatsup.

Cleaning of school settings

Cleaning of school settings at this time is even more important, and we know it can feel like a lot more work especially if resources are limited. You are encouraged to read the DfE guidance ‘COVID-19: Cleaning in non-healthcare setting on GOV.UK.