Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school visits and trips

Published: 2 Sep 2020
Last updated: 14 May 2021 - see all updates

Information for local authorities and schools.

Published:
2 Sep 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): school visits and trips

This guidance is for local authorities and their associated schools. It should also be used by grant-aided schools and independent schools. It sets out the current position in relation to school trips in the summer term 2021 (from the end of the Easter break until the start of the new academic year in August 2021).

This guidance updates the previous guidance on school visits and trips that was issued on 13 March 2020, 17 April 2020, 2 September 2020, 3 February 2021,  07 May 2021 and 25 May 2021. It should be read alongside the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on schools reopening and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools. It does not cover routine and expected off-site visits including but not limited to: movement between education establishments to support learners with additional support needs or to partake in a school-college partnership. Schools should consider the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools when making arrangements for routine and expected off-site visits. 

All of the guidance set out below is aligned with plans for school and broader societal reopening as set out within the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): Strategic Framework and Coronavirus (COVID-19): timetable for easing restrictions. This guidance is therefore subject to change should Scotland not progress through the Covid-19 protection levels in line with projections. It is also subject to further review in order to provide additional clarification as required. In any case, this guidance will also undergo a full review after the end of the summer term and revised guidance will be published before the start of the 2021/22 academic year.

Short local excursions which promote outdoor learning

As per previous guidance, short local excursions which promote outdoor learning (such as a short visit to a local park or green space) can take place as long as these excursions are appropriately risk assessed. The appropriate size of any group travelling off site to undertake outdoor learning should also be considered.

Schools should exercise judgement as to what constitutes a short local outdoor excursion and what constitutes a more substantial day visit. More substantial school day visits should only be undertaken in line with the guidance set out in the section below.

Day visits

School day visits (i.e visits which go beyond a local excursion and that do not include an overnight stay) can recommence in the summer term subject to the following conditions:

Date

Conditions

From April 2021

Planning for day visits can continue but delivery should be delayed in line with the phased approach outlined below.

From 10 May 2021

All school day visits can recommence subject to:

appropriate risk assessments being carried out;

any travel arrangements follow latest guidance as set out in the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools; and

adherence to Covid protocols at the destination.

Residential visits

Some aspects of residential educational activity (i.e. visits that contain at least one overnight stay) can recommence in the summer term subject to the conditions set out below. It is advised that schools work with residential visit providers to ensure that the mitigating actions outlined below are put in place. More detailed advice, developed by the Scottish Advisory Panel on Outdoor Education, on implementing the mitigations set out in this guidance is available. The SAPOE guidance provides detailed supplementary guidance on the safe operation of outdoor residential excursions and visits, and is updated in line with this guidance.

The table below provides guidance in relation to the safe resumption of outdoor residential expeditions (such as those associated with The Duke of Edinburgh Award or similar) and residential visits to outdoor education centres. Residential visits of these types have been longstanding features of Scottish education as they allow young people to undergo a more immersive educational experience and develop skills for life such as resilience and independence. The overnight aspect is therefore seen as integral to the learning experience and can resume subject to mitigating actions.

Schools and local authorities have autonomy in planning residential visits, however educational visits that necessitate an overnight stay but where the residential aspect is not central to the learning experience are not advised in the summer term. 

Date

Conditions

From April 2021

Planning for outdoor residential expeditions or residential visits to outdoor education centres can  continue but delivery should be delayed in line with the phased approach outlined below.

From 10 May 2021

Residential outdoor expeditions can recommence subject to:

  • Maximum group size of 9 including the expedition leader.
  • Any travel arrangements follow latest guidance as set out in the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools.
  • Relevant school Covid-19 protocols are maintained during the expedition.
  • Zero interaction with others outside the expedition group.
  • Individuals sleeping in single person tents outdoors.
  • Washing and toilet facilities reserved for single person use at any one time.

From 31 May 2021

School residential visits to outdoor education centres can recommence subject to:

  • Visits only allowed when virus prevalence is equivalent to new Covid-19 Protection Levels 0, 1 and 2 at both the school and destination*.
  • Single school occupancy only - except for Protection Level 0 (at both school and destination) where a maximum of two school groups may attend.
  • Any travel arrangements follow latest guidance as set out in the Scottish Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools.
  • Relevant school Covid-19 protocols are maintained during the visit.
  • Individuals sleeping in either single rooms indoors or single person tents outdoors.
  • Washing and toilet facilities reserved for single person use at any one time.
  • Enhanced cleaning in between visits.

*School groups may travel through areas subject to higher protection levels but should make every effort not to stop in a higher level area.

Schools and local authorities have autonomy in planning residential visits, however educational visits that necessitate an overnight stay but where the residential aspect is not central to the learning experience are not advised in the summer term.  

Schools which feature residential boarding or hostel accommodation may already have learners routinely sharing bedrooms or dormitories, in accordance with the bubble arrangements determined and risk assessed by that school. In such a case, the same individuals may continue to share sleeping accommodation (either a room or tent) during a residential school visit and the single room/tent sleeping requirement set out in this guidance need not apply. This exemption only applies to schools which feature residential boarding or hostel accommodation and have already implemented risk assessed residential bubbles.

Cross border visits within the UK

If schools wish to conduct cross border day or residential visits within the UK then they should first establish that the visit is permissible by consulting the latest Covid-19 travel guidance for both Scotland and the destination. They should also consult the latest schools and school visits guidance for the destination. In addition, schools are advised to undertake additional risk assessment activity considering factors such as Covid prevalence and possible variants of concern at the proposed destination.

If a school establishes that a cross border visit within the UK is permissible and appropriate then all relevant timescales and mitigating actions set out in this guidance should be complied with during that visit. This is in addition to any additional requirements in place at the destination.

When planning residential visits to outdoor education centres within other UK nations, it is acknowledged that a school will be unable to definitively establish if a destination sits within an area equivalent to Scottish local protection level 2 or below. This is because local protection levels in other parts of the UK differ from those used in Scotland. In such a case, the school should use appropriate risk assessment to satisfy themselves that it is safe and appropriate to visit the destination of choice. In addition, other mitigations set out in this guidance must still be adhered to and this includes the requirement for the school to be situated in an area subject to Scottish local protection level 2 or below.

International educational visits

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) provides advice to British citizens on travel abroad.  The Scottish Government, alongside the UK Government, has put in place a country risk assessment system of red, amber and green lists.  Travel is not recommended to Red and Amber list countries for anything other than essential reasons, and travellers to any destination should consider carefully if their journey is really necessary. This is subject to review, and the most up to date FCDO guidance should continue to be consulted at any time.

The risk of taking a group of learners and teachers abroad and potentially having to remain in that country for longer than planned, or undertake quarantine on return, should not be underestimated. Such an outcome would impact significantly, not just on learners but on teaching staff who would be unable to attend work. It is also unlikely that travel insurers would currently provide cover in respect of Covid-19 disruption for any new or pre-planned international visits.

Therefore, we advise that schools do not undertake international visits for the remainder of the academic year 2020/21. This guidance on international visits is kept under review, is therefore subject to change and will in any case be fully reviewed by the start of the new academic year in August 2021.

Contact

Email: CERG@gov.scot 

 

 

First published: 2 Sep 2020 Last updated: 14 May 2021 -