Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues – advisory note on school trips which include an overnight stay

Published: 25 Aug 2020

Advisory note from the Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues about school trips which include an overnight stay away from place of normal residence.

Published:
25 Aug 2020
Coronavirus (COVID 19): Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues – advisory note on school trips which include an overnight stay

Key messages

  • Overall the risks of transmission on a school trip which includes an overnight stay away from place of normal residence are greater than the potential benefits to children and young people. 
  • Trips which include overnight stays should be introduced in an incremental manner.  Planning for such visits should not commence until later in the school year, when there will be greater understanding about the virus and viral transmission.  Actions in different settings will have developed further in response to that learning. 
  • Decisions to reinstate school trips including an overnight stay will be dependent on there being low levels of Covid-19 infection in the population and on systems being in place for close monitoring, rapid testing and tracing of suspected cases. 
  • Flexibility will be necessary within local areas based on data about local prevalence and community transmission.

Residential trips

1. Is the risk of transmission further increased if school age children go on residential school trips (i.e trips which feature overnight stays) in contrast to the risk associated with day trips?

Yes, the risk of transmission bridges being created on a school trip which includes an overnight stay away from place of normal residence is likely to be greater than the risks associated with a day trip. The overall risk increase does depend on a range of other mitigating factors, such as hand and respiratory hygiene and cleaning.

2. Is the risk of transmission reduced if the school groups remain separate whilst on residential trips (e.g a school group being the only occupants of a hotel or similar holiday accommodation).

The risk of transmission bridges is reduced if the school group remains separate, but the risk of transmission is still greater than the risk associated with a day trip.

2. What is the risk of transmission for primary school aged children undertaking a residential school trip?

There are significant uncertainties - our advice is developing and will continue to be revised, in response to what the scientific community learns about this virus over time.  At this time, due to increased risks of transmission involved with such trips, we would not recommend school trips which include an overnight stay away from place of normal residence.  We do not consider that the overall benefit would be greater than the overall increased risk of transmission. 

4. What is the risk of transmission for secondary school aged children undertaking a residential school trip?

There are significant uncertainties - our advice is developing, and will continue to be revised in response to what the scientific community learns about this virus over time.  There is a relationship between age and likelihood of contracting and transmitting Covid-19, and the risks are higher for secondary school aged children than they are for primary school aged children.  At this time, we would not recommend school trips which include an overnight stay away from place of normal household residence.  We do not consider that the overall benefit would be greater than the overall increased risk of transmission. 

5. What is the risk of transmission for teachers and school staff accompanying (a) primary school aged children and (b) secondary school aged children?

There are significant uncertainties - our advice is developing, and will continue to be revised in response to what the scientific community learns about this virus over time.  At this time, we would not recommend school trips which include an overnight stay away from place of normal household residence for staff accompanying either primary aged or secondary aged children. The risks of transmission are highest in adult-adult interactions, with evidence in different settings of spread from on staff member to another. 

Transport

6. Does transporting (a) primary school aged children and (b) secondary school aged children as part of a school trip increase the risk of transmission if public transport is used?

Yes, there are risks associated with public transport use.  Although these are mitigated by use of face coverings, distancing of passengers etc, some risk of transmission remains.

7. Does transporting (a) primary school aged children and (b) secondary school aged children as part of a school trip increase the risk of transmission if private transport is used?

The risk is less if dedicated school transport is used, compared to public transport, on account of there being less mixing with other people, greater scope to manage behaviours, and potentially fewer surface contacts and better ventilation.

Risks as compared to trips outwith school

8. Is any increased risk of transmission significantly different to the risk associated with individuals undertaking domestic holidays from the 15 July?

Yes, there is a greater risk of bridges of transmission being established as a greater number of children, young people and adults from different families and households are potentially mixing.