Coronavirus: social distancing in schools


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Implementing social distancing in schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has produced guidance on how to implement social distancing in schools. It explains education setting that remain open should:

  • Tell children, parents, carers or any visitors, such as suppliers, not to visit the education or childcare setting if they are displaying any symptoms or Coronavirus
  • Consider how children at the education setting and reduce any unnecessary travel on coaches, buses or public transport
  • Ensure class sizes reflect the numbers of teaching staff available and are kept as small as possible
  • Stagger lunch times, break times and the movement of pupils around the school to reduce large groups of children gathering
  • Discourage parents from gathering at school gates
  • Try to follow the social distancing guidelines

Social distancing within education and childcare settings with very young children will be harder to maintain. Staff should implement the above as far as they are able, whilst ensuring children are kept safe and well cared for within their settings.

The Department is asking schools to:

  • Think about how the above can be implemented in you education or childcare setting
  • Make sure anyone who is feeling ill stays at home (for residential special schools and colleges, this means self-isolating a school or college ‘household’ if a resident is ill).
  • Ensure all staff and children wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently, and are encouraged not to touch their face, while using a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and using bins for tissue waste. If children or young people have trouble washing their hands, ensure help is available
  • Inform parents and communities about the measures that you are taking and get their help to implement them
  • Increase cleaning of surfaces in classrooms, including desks and handles, and within toilet blocks and changing rooms, adhering to guidance on cleaning of non-healthcare settings
  • For children and young people with an EHC plan, work with the local authority as well as with parents to decide how best to continue these children and young people to stay healthy

The DfE will work with schools, childcare settings and local authorities to ensure that adequate supplies of personal and domestic cleaning products are available to schools. 

The Department acknowledges that education and childcare settings may face additional costs as a result of Coronavirus. It will put in place a new process that allows the Department to reimburse schools for exceptional costs that they face as a result.

What can parents do?

  • Talk to their children about Coronavirus, social distancing and hand washing
  • Follow guidance for households with possible Coronavirus infection
  • Do not gather at entrances or in playgrounds, and model social distancing so that their children learn good practice

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