Keeping yourself safe: what you can do

1. Individual risk assessments

  • Employers are required to assess the circumstances of each employee individually before requiring them to attend the workplace.
  • It is important to request an individual risk assessment if this has not already taken place so that all relevant circumstances, including medical vulnerability, age, sex and ethnicity, can be taken into account to determine any necessary protective measures from September. Go to: neu.org.uk/advice/coronavirus-ensuring-safety-staff-higher-risk

2. Keeping safe on site

  • Only authorised staff, students and visitors should be allowed on the premises.
  • No other visitors should go on site, unless absolutely necessary or in emergencies.

3. Cleaning arrangements

  • The virus can be transmitted from surfaces that are touched and many students will be entirely asymptomatic.
  • Toilets and washrooms should be cleaned by cleaning staff as regularly as is necessary to maintain high standards of cleanliness with standard cleaning products. This will involve additional cleaning beyond the normal regime, with checks during the working day.
  • All other areas should be cleaned by cleaning staff before the start of every day, paying special attention to door handles, table/counter tops, computers including mouse and keyboard, light switches, telephones, chairs, bannisters, toys and other areas touched regularly by staff and children, with additional cleaning during the day.
  • Where there has been a Covid-19 case, the cleaning regime should be in accordance with strict rules outlined at: covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings

4. Hand washing

  • Stocks of soap should be checked, and replenished, before the start of every day.
  • Warm water should be available throughout the day, with checks by facilities staff to make sure that this remains the case.
  • Hand sanitiser (60% alcohol minimum) and tissues should be available in every classroom with stocks checked every day and at reception area.
  • Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap on arrival and regularly throughout the day. Supervised hand washing for all students, for at least 20 seconds, should take place as a minimum on arrival and before and after every break and lunchtime.
  • Hand dryers should be disconnected and replaced with paper towels and bins.
  • Regular supervised use of hand sanitiser in classrooms throughout the day is recommended.
  • Students should be regularly reminded not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Anyone touching a school pet must wash their hands afterwards.
  • Anyone handling food must wash their hands before and after doing so.
  • Anyone who has to treat a cut or wound must wash their hands before and after doing so.

5. Coughing and sneezing

  • Students must cover their mouth and nose with a bent elbow, or use a tissue, when coughing or sneezing. There should be means to dispose of tissues in every classroom, with the bin emptied during the day.
  • Hands must be washed after coughing or sneezing, with soap and warm water.
  • Keep windows open for ventilation.

6. Avoiding so far as is possible physical contact between children and between staff and children

  • Physical contact with students should be avoided as far as is possible.
  • Find alternative means to comfort young children who may be distressed that does not involve physical contact.
  • As far as possible, games and activities which lead to physical contact between children should be avoided.
  • Students should be spread out as far as possible when in the classroom and when eating – ideally 2 metres apart from staff.
  • Students should walk single file when moving about the building and should not hold hands.
  • Where possible, break and lunch times should be staggered so that the playground and dining area does not become crowded at any time. Students should not be holding hands, hugging or jumping on each other.
  • Introducing markings on the floor will help everyone to maintain the necessary distance.
  • Staff should practice social distancing in the staff room and kitchen areas. It is important to try to avoid crowding round tea urns, kettles and fridges and to keep 2 metres apart if possible.

7. PPE for those staff who need it

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be provided for staff at significant risk of airborne contamination due to necessary close personal contact with students who cannot control behaviour such as spitting, coughing or sneezing. This means providing PPE for all schools for pupils with significant learning difficulties (SLD) and profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), and for other special schools and early years settings, where risk assessments show that students' behaviour poses these risks.
  • Staff and students who wish to wear a face covering should be permitted to do so.

8. What to do if a child or member of staff shows Covid-19 symptoms during the school/college day

  • Impress on the students that they must immediately let staff know if they start feeling hot, develop a cough or feel unwell in any way. Monitoring should be based on all staff being alert for students becoming visibly hot or feverish during the day rather than on temperature testing where close contact is required.
  • Where a student reports feeling hot, or where it is noticed that a student looks flushed, clammy or feverish, or is developing a persistent cough, they should be kept apart from other students and staff – at least 2 metres – until picked up. Ideally, this should be in a separate room behind a closed door with a window open. Some students will need to be supervised. Any member of staff supervising them must wash their hands for 20 seconds afterwards. If the student needs to use the bathroom, if possible they should use a separate facility and this area should cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.
  • Staff who develop a high temperature or persistent cough during the day or who feel unwell in any way, must be sent home immediately.

9. Introducing contamination into your home

If you are worried about introducing contamination into your home you may wish to use the following procedure when you return from school/college, although the public health authorities have said this is not strictly necessary as it is actually the advice given to staff working in very close quarters with patients who have Covid-19.

  • Put your school clothes in a bin liner. You can have this ready just by the door and with your washing machine door open. A member of your household can help you do this but ideally should stay clear during this procedure.
  • Take the bin liner to the washing machine, scrunch clothes into a ball and place in the washing machine, avoiding touching any part of it if you can. Then have a shower and wash your hair and avoid touching door handles or surfaces if possible and, if you do, clean them afterwards. Then go back to the washing machine, shut the door and turn it on at the maximum temperature that the fabric will tolerate.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home. Wash your hands before eating or handling food.
  • Suggest this advice to parents/carers if they are worried about contamination when their child returns home.