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Health and Safety Check of the Building

DfE guidance sets out checks that need to take place for schools that have been entirely closed.

Questions for reps to ask:

Has this document been consulted by management and confirmation given to you that each of these points will be addressed in advance of reopening for schools that have been entirely closed, and that assurances will be given in writing about the safety of the following areas?

  • hot and cold water systems
  • gas safety
  • fire safety
  • kitchen equipment
  • Specialist equipment used by pupils (eg for access/mobility/changing)
  • security including access control and intruder alarm systems
  • ventilation

Are you satisfied that these checks will be complied with in time for extended opening?    Yes / No

Cleaning and hygiene

The DfE tells head teachers that they will want to make clear to school staff and parents what their ‘expectations’ are about cleaning and hygiene.  It suggests that they ‘may wish to consider plans’ for the following:

  • The availability of soap and hot water in every toilet and any areas used for personal care of pupils eg changing (and if possible in classrooms).
  • The location of hand sanitiser stations, for example at the school entrance for pupils and any other person passing into the school to use, and their replenishment.
  • The location of lidded bins in classrooms and in other key locations around the site for the disposal of tissues and any other potentially infected waste, their double bagging and emptying.
  • Ensuring you have a good supply of disposable tissues in each classroom and enough to top up regularly, as well as lidded bins with double bagging for disposal, with any other potentially infected waste, and where these should be located.

Questions for reps to ask:

Reps need assurances about the systems that the head teacher will be able to implement.  Without these assurances there can be no ‘expectations’ on either staff or parents.

  • Will soap and, preferably warm, water be available at all times, with systems in place to ensure continuity of supply of soap and sanitiser?
  • How will the school ensure that children and staff arriving can safely queue up, at 2-metre distance from each other, to access the sanitiser on arrival?
  • Will staffing levels (and PPE) allow for enough staff to support those pupils in special schools to do this who are unable to do it independently?
  • Are lidded bins available in every classroom?  Unless operated by pedal, the lids will need to be regularly sanitised throughout the day.  How will this happen?  Who will empty them during the day?
  • What arrangements are in place to keep every classroom supplied with tissues?
  • Will staff and children wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap on arrival, before departure and regularly throughout the day, including before and after every break and lunchtime, and how will this be supervised and monitored?
  • Will pupils be regularly reminded to catch coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow?
  • Will appropriate PPE be provided in schools where pupils are unable, or less able to catch their sneezes and coughs?
  • Will hand dryers be disconnected and replaced with paper towels and bins?
  • Will drinking fountains be taken out of use?
  • Will only rooms with windows that can be kept open be used?
  • Will doors to be kept open where possible to aid ventilation?
  • Will separate risk assessments take place in classes where leaving a door open will expose children to additional risks (eg runners)?
  • Will air conditioning systems not be used unless it can be confirmed that there is no additional risk?
  • Will all areas of the premises be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis with particular focus on surfaces that are touched by multiple people such as photocopiers, door handles, table/counter tops, computers including mouse and keyboard, light switches telephones, chairs, bannisters, shared learning resources or toys, specialist equipment for SEND pupils, toilets and toilet handles, sinks, taps and other areas touched regularly, with additional cleaning during the day as necessary?
  • Will each classroom be provided with gloves and disinfectant spray in case a pupil coughs or sneezes on a piece of equipment?
  • Is there capacity amongst the cleaning staff to meet these requirements?

Are you satisfied with the cleaning and hygiene arrangements that will operate from when extended opening begins?  Yes / No

Movement around the school 

The main suggestion from DfE is for corridors to be used on a one-way basis.

Questions for reps to ask:

  • Will a one-way system be introduced?  If not, why is it not needed?
  • What arrangements are proposed for safe movement on staircases?
  • What arrangements are in place for use of lifts – can social distancing be achieved if a staff member travels in the lift with a child?
  • How will staff and children be made aware of the new arrangements, with particular reference to very young children and those with special needs?
  • Who will monitor that the systems are being complied with?  Will a member of staff be on duty at all times?
  • Are other measures needed in corridors, for example floor markings or removal of furniture or students walking in single file without holding hands?
  • Is there provision for the movement of pupils around the school who may need additional assistance from an adult?
  • How will pupils and staff keep 2-metres apart, even with these arrangements?
  • What arrangements are proposed around access to pupil toilets to ensure no overcrowding during lesson and break times?
  • What signage will be displayed to support these new systems?

Are you satisfied that staff and children will be able to move safely through the corridors and up and down stairs from the date when the school opens more widely?  Yes / No

Site Examination

Head teachers are advised to examine the classrooms available and any other rooms that can be used as temporary classrooms. The DfE suggests that essential resources may need to be moved from one classroom to another where classes are split and that non washable resources, other than books, should be taken away or put out of reach.

Questions for reps to ask:

  • Given that classes will be split, how in practical terms can resources be split between two classrooms?
  • Will additional resources be needed to ensure that both classes have what they need?
  • How will young children be taught (reception especially and nursery) without physical resources?

Are you satisfied that these arrangements will be in place in time for extended opening and that they will work on a practical level?  Yes / No

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