The following is not meant as a rigid template, but as a suggested guide to the types of questions you should be asking yourself, in conjunction with staff.
Risk assessment is about working together to find solutions and arrive at the most reasonable and practical way of reducing risks to life and health.
If your school or college is open during this current health crisis, then a thorough risk assessment is vital to ensure that you and your staff understand the protocols in place and apply the control measures to reduce the risk of spreading Covid19.
The National Education Union website has essential advice and guidance on Covid19, together with links to Government and public health bodies. You should use the question set below in conjunction with this guidance.
Model question set for risk evaluation and assessment to reduce the spread of Covid19
Areas for consideration:
- How have ‘critical’ or ‘key workers’ been defined? Has this been done with a view to reducing the student numbers in school/college to the minimum necessary?
- How have ‘vulnerable children’ been defined? Has this been done with a view to reducing the student numbers in school/college to the minimum necessary?
- How are you dealing with any over-subscription of places for key worker children at your school or college?
- How are you dealing with students with SEND? (Further and more detailed NEU advice is available for leaders in special education settings.)
- How have you organised your rota of staff? Has this been done with a view to reducing the staff numbers in school/college to the minimum necessary?
- Do you know the medical conditions of all students and staff attending the school or college during this Covid19 crisis period?
- What consideration has been given to transportation difficulties of students attending school or college who usually use buses, with safeguarding being paramount, along with logistical issues?
- Are vulnerable staff (those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women) working from home?
- What additional support may be needed for staff working at home who are classed as ‘at risk’ from Covid19?
- Are staff who live with or care for vulnerable people working from home?
- What class or group sizes are being adopted for your school or college? Are these consistent with reducing the student and staff numbers in school/college to the minimum necessary?
- What social distancing control measures are in place for students and staff in school or college? Are these consistent with Government guidance?
- What protocols or procedures are in place for contact between students and between staff and students (eg touching each other, handling books and materials)?
- Is personal protective equipment (PPE) provided to staff?
- Is there a hygiene protocol providing for regular hygiene breaks of sufficient length during the day? Washing hands is our first line of defence against Covid19 and should be done regularly.
- Is there access to enough sinks with hot water and soap for the number of students and staff in school?
- Does every class have a supply of hand sanitiser (minimum alcohol 60%) and tissues?
- Is there a strict regime of cleaning within the school or college, with particular attention paid to toilet areas and hand washing sinks?
- Does the school or college have appropriate signage alerting all staff, pupils/students to the need for high standards of hygiene? You can’t promote without promotion!
- Are all safety protocols clearly displayed (ideally laminated) in all areas of the school used by pupils/students and staff?
- Is there temperature testing of students?
- Is there a protocol for what to do where a student or staff member develops Covid19 symptoms during the day?
- Have staff been reminded about the heightened risk when using fuel stations before attending work? Using gloves or tissues when filling cars up with fuel can reduce the risk of the spread of Covid19.
- What additional control measures are in place to reduce the risk of any necessary visitors (eg key worker NHS staff) bringing the Covid19 virus into school or college inadvertently?
- If your school or college is engaged in direct remote teaching (Skype or other platforms), what safeguarding measures are or will be in place?
- Have you started planning the measures which will be required over Easter, drawing on NEU advice about staff availability over Easter, and then into the summer term?
- Have you consulted and involved staff in all of the above? Have you consulted union workplace reps and health & safety reps? You should involve union reps and consult staff as widely as possible and practicable.
- Do you have a written Covid19 risk assessment register? Does this capture who has seen and acknowledged seeing your control measures to reduce the spread of Covid19?
- What formal process do you have for reviewing risk assessments and implementing revised control measures where appropriate and necessary? Are you reviewing your risk assessments and protocols at regular intervals and when circumstances change, in consultation with staff and union representatives?
- Do you have a Plan B? If control measures cannot be maintained within the school or college, what is the plan? Are staff, pupils/students and parents/carers aware of the plan?
Remember, your school or college Covid19 risk assessment and safety protocols are the starting points for any activities you engage in as a school or college. The wider community and our nation are depending on your actions as an education leader.