Guidance has been updated since the below was published, to see the latest please visit this page.
Educational Visits – Covid-19
Towards the latter part of the school year, we were inundated with emails, calls and request messages on EVOLVE, our Educational visit platform, from schools that had no idea where to turn to get support, guidance and advice. Covid-19 is a deadly disease that had hit the world and a global pandemic was sweeping across the land closing schools, public spaces and businesses.
Visits and overseas trips had been planned, booked and paid for but they were no longer able to go ahead. Schools and establishments were trying to work their way around the ongoing updated Government guidance and at times were struggling. Insurance companies were requesting additional information and not always paying out. This had a huge impact on schools last year.
Move forward six months and we are now in a new academic year. Two weeks in and there is still a grey area around the understanding of the guidance, this is demonstrated to use as we are getting a high volume of schools to contact us for guidance. They are keen to start taking their students out on educational visits and engage with learning outside the classroom again.
What the latest guidance says…
As we all know learning outside the classroom has both educational benefits and health benefits. It provides opportunities to get out into the fresh air and has the space to social distance.
The new Government guidance that came into force on 14th September for the purpose of training and supervised activities for children including before and after school clubs, and or other out of the school setting provisions for children states there is an exemption to the legal gathering limit.
Educational visits guidance
The passage from the Government guidance states:
Providers should not offer overnight or residential provision for children. This is consistent with the latest government guidance on meeting people from outside your household, which advises that you should not stay overnight away from your home with members of more than 2 households.
The Government will keep this position under review and continue to be guided by the best scientific and medical advice to ensure that the right decisions are taken at the right time. The Government also advises against any overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings.
Providers can, however, offer non-overnight domestic educational visits. This should be done in line with protective measures. Such as keeping children within their consistent group, relevant Covid-secure travel arrangements and the Covid-secure measures in place at the destination.
Providers should undertake full and thorough risk assessments in relation to all educational visits to ensure they can be done safely. As part of this risk assessment, providers will need to consider what control measures need to be used and ensure they are aware of wider advice on visiting indoor and outdoor venues.
Providers should consult the health and safety guidance on educational visits when considering visits.
Planning and managing activities – OEAP guidance
The following guidance for planning and managing activities is specific to operating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The direction is that schools should be familiar with other National Guidance documents relevant to their role, as the normal principles of good practice still apply.
Schools should review their standard operating procedures to ensure that they include the measures that they need to take to reduce the risks from Covid-19.
It is particularly important to follow government guidance about social distancing, group sizes, personal protective equipment and hygiene, whether indoors or outdoors, on-site or off-site.
Schools should consider avoiding activities that have a high likelihood of minor injuries, so as to reduce the need for first aid, close contact with participants, or visits to the hospital.
If the planned activity is in an area open to the public, you should consider carefully how you will ensure that your group is isolated from the public.
The same attention should be given to hygiene when outdoors as when indoors. For example:
- Regularly washing/sanitising hands including when going outside, before and after touching shared objects such as activity equipment, before eating, after using the toilet, when getting on or off transport such as a minibus, when returning inside
- Avoiding touching objects shared by the public – for example, a member of staff could hold a gate open to avoid everyone touching it
- Avoiding activities which involve touching each other (e.g. holding hands)
- Sanitising equipment before it is used.
Consider carrying, or having easily available, antiseptic hand gel, antiseptic wipes, tissues, bags for waste, gloves and face masks and possibly disposable aprons and eye protection, in case of staff need to administer first aid or give direct support or personal care to a participant.
Be aware that antiseptic hand gel usually contains a high proportion of alcohol, and could therefore be a temptation for abuse by some young people. It should be used under close staff supervision.
During some activities, it may be possible to designate or mark out ‘zones’ within which individual participants work, to avoid contact between them. It is important to keep parents informed about your plans and the precautions you are taking, both indoors and outdoors, as they will naturally be concerned.
Current Government guidance for educational settings in both England and Wales advises against all overseas visits for children under 18.
Schools should monitor the Government’s foreign travel advice for any country you plan to travel to or through. Liaise closely with your travel provider about the situation in the country that you are planning to visit and consider the alternatives and options should that visit no longer be able to proceed.
You can find specific advice for people travelling overseas during the pandemic, and the rules for entering the UK here.
Our expert advisers on our Educational Visits team have put up a FAQ section on our website and EVOLVE platform to give further guidance, they monitor and update guidance ongoing and work closely with OEAP who have supported much of this content.
For more information please visit our Educational Visits page.