Safe operation of schools
- Risk assessments: All centres must complete a specific COVID-19 risk assessment, to be regularly updated and reviewed to take into account the circumstances of the centre and any health advice changes.
- Mixing and ‘bubbles’: It is no longer necessary to keep students in consistent groups, or ‘bubbles’. However, contingency plans must cover the possibility that it becomes necessary to reintroduce them for a temporary period, to reduce mixing between groups. For MLA, this means that a student’s class would become their ‘bubble’, and they would participate in activities and be housed accordingly.
- Tracing close contacts and isolation: Education providers are no longer expected to undertake contact tracing. Instead, NHS Test and Trace will work with positive cases to identify close contacts. Positive cases are required to self-isolate, but close contacts will not have to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated or below the age of 18 years and 6 months.
- Face coverings: These are no longer advised for students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas. There is no legal requirement to wear face coverings anywhere, but it is recommended that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces, such as public transport and dedicated transport to and from school, e.g. coaches to and from an excursion destination. If an individual student or staff member feels safer wearing a face covering, this is of course allowed and encouraged.
- Contingency plans: It is recommended that schools keep outbreak management plans outlining what we would do if students or staff test positive for COVID-19, or how we would operate if extra measures to contain an outbreak were introduced. Our current standing policy is that if anyone does test positive they will immediately self isolate for 10 days, each centre must stock sufficient face coverings and PPE for all students and staff, and classrooms must be big enough to account for a reintroduction of social distancing.
- Control measures: We are required to ensure good hygiene of everyone by following the hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene guidelines, which must be visible on posters around all centres.
- All areas and equipment in use should be cleaned regularly (e.g. twice a day), with particular attention paid to frequently touched surfaces.
- Occupied spaces must be kept well ventilated, either through mechanical fans, or natural ventilation achieved by opening windows, which must of course be balanced with the need for a comfortable temperature.
- Upon arrival and throughout the course, students should be tested twice weekly, using lateral flow tests.
Up-to-date information can be found here, which while primarily dealing with schools for UK children, summer schools such as MLA are also expected to follow.