Academies and Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 16th July 2020.

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Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if it his policy that local authorities should encourage schools and academies to update their risk assessments to reflect 1 metre plus social distancing.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

On 2 July we published guidance to help schools plan for a full return of all children in September. This sets out that in preparation for September, schools should thoroughly review their health and safety risk assessments and draw up plans for the autumn term that address the risks identified.

Schools are expected to give consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable. These contacts can be reduced by a variety of steps including grouping children together, avoiding contact between groups and staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible.

Our guidance states that ideally, adults should maintain 2 metre distance from each other, and from children. We know that this is not always possible, particularly when working with younger children. In particular, adults should avoid close face to face contact and minimise time spent within 1 metre of anyone.

Children who are old enough should also be supported to maintain distance and not touch staff and their peers where possible. This will not be possible for the youngest children and some children with complex needs and it is not feasible in some schools where space does not allow. Schools doing this where they can, and even doing this some of the time, will help.

The guidance on the full opening of schools can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

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