Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 18th September 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Morgan Stephen Morgan Shadow Minister (Defence) (Armed Forces and Defence Procurement), Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support he plans to provide to (a) staff and (b) pupils in response to the reported increase in covid-19 cases.

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

On 2 July the Department published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

This includes the public health advice schools must follow to minimise the risks of COVID-19 transmission. The public health advice in the guidance makes up a Public Health England (PHE) endorsed ‘system of controls’, building on the hierarchy of protective measures that have been used throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an inherently safer environment for children and staff where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. Measures include minimising contact between groups and maintaining distance where possible, encouraging regular handwashing, and enhanced cleaning.

The guidance also includes advice to schools on responding to any suspected cases of COVID-19. All staff and pupils should be tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms, and every school and college that has been attended by someone who tests positive will receive direct support and advice from their local PHE health protection team.

The Department have asked every school to plan for the possibility of local restrictions and how they will ensure continuity of education in exceptional circumstances where there is some level of restriction applied to education or childcare in a local area. The Department of Health and Social Care has published an overview of the tiers of restriction for education and childcare, to be implemented only where absolutely necessary, in its contain framework. This makes clear that we anticipate that education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all. This can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/containing-and-managing-local-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreaks/covid-19-contain-framework-a-guide-for-local-decision-makers.

Guidance has also been published on how schools can plan for tier 2 local restrictions due to the operational challenges that schools could experience. This can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions/how-schools-can-plan-for-tier-2-local-restrictions.

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