Covid-19, Schools and HSE – the Latest Updates

Continued Concern

As we welcome pupils back into school after such a long period of home study there is continued concern in schools to ensure they are compliant with the requirements in keeping staff and children safe.

I have lost count how many times the guidance has been updated since the outbreak of Covid-19 and how many times I have read the updates to ensure I could pick out the key points, it all becomes a blur.

I have seen many questions in forums from school leaders who have returned to school in September and are trying to do their very best to follow the guidance. The advice from others in the forum are different ends of the spectrum as each leader reads and understands the guidance in a different way unique to their school setting, leaving lots of school leaders unsure if their newly developed policies are adequate. How can this happen?

Well the guidance has been updated again (yes, you read that correctly). So below, I’ll discuss the latest changes…


Government Guidance Updates

There has been new updates in the Government guidance. The new updates are dated 7th September 2020 and below is the list of topics that have been updated.

It is important that the key people within the school are up to speed with the updates and the guidance as a whole as the Health and Safety Executive have announced spot checks in schools – further information on this below..

  • managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community
  • the framework for supporting transport to and from schools
  • pupils who are shielding or self-isolating
  • use of face coverings in schools
  • actions for all schools and local authorities with regards to recording attendance and absence
  • employer health and safety and equalities duties
  • support available for schools with regard to supply teachers
  • performance management and appraisal for teachers
  • music, dance and drama in school
  • wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity
  • physical activity in schools
  • new resources available for pupil wellbeing and support
  • behaviour expectations
  • primary assessment
  • additional resources available for delivering remote education
  • changes to SEND legislation

Ensuring Safe Return to School

The HSE published an E-bulletin on 4th September advising school duty holders they have an important role to play to ensure the risks of Covid-19 transmission is adequately controlled in line with government guidance.

They stated in the bulletin that they will be conducting spot checks on schools.

The spot checks will take the form of an initial phone call to evaluate the duty holders knowledge and awareness of the relevant government guidance and that the measures have been taken for reopening to minimise spread of the virus.

Inspectors will check that the school has carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place measures to make the school Covid-secure in line with the latest government guidance (some sections of the guidance have been updated again on 7th September 2020 – these topics are outlined below)

Where the initial call raises concerns about a school’s approach, the school may get a visit from an inspector.

Spot checks are already underway in Scotland as of 11th August 2020 and initial calls to schools in England and Wales are expected to commence from 7th September 2020.

Our Recommendations

It would be useful as a school to double check your policy and procedures, ensure all staff are aware of the updates and conduct a Health and Safety audit.

If you feel you would benefit from some support with this contact our Regulatory Services Department who will be able to guide you.