Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools

Guidance to help schools ensure a low-risk environment for learning and teaching.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools
Overview

Overview

Initial advice was that this guidance would remain in place for a period of up to 6 weeks (until the end of September) and that updated guidance would be provided following a review.

The Advisory Sub-group on Education and Children’s Issues considered the data and evidence surrounding the school return at its meeting on Tuesday 7 September. In light of high case rates and current evidence on the state of the pandemic, the sub-group recommended retaining the mitigations set out in this guidance at this time. The sub-group also recommended that some adjustments be made to the process around issuing information letters to lower risk contacts in school communities when cases occur, and that advice on LFD testing in those letters should be strengthened. Those changes, and some others to reflect the latest developments (e.g. on vaccination) have been included in this updated version of the guidance, which will apply from 15 September.

It is expected that this updated guidance will remain in place until at least the October holidays – the position thereafter will be informed by regular reviews of the data and evidence by the advisory sub-group.

The key changes that will apply from 15 September are:

  • updated information on vaccinations for 12-15 year olds
  • updated guidance on contact tracing in schools (to improve clarity and ensure alignment with Test and Protect guidance), including flow diagram (Annex B in the PDF)
  • a more targeted approach to the issuing of information letters to lower risk contacts in the school environment, as well as strengthened advice on LFD testing in those letters
  • further advice/good practice on asymptomatic testing (see Annex D in the PDF)
  • inclusion of a link to additional UK-wide guidance on pregnancy

At its meeting on 21st September, the sub-group recommended updating the guidance for school visitors, including for spectators at schools sports, parental visits, parent councils, and use of community facilities.  These changes will apply from 30 September.

Mitigation

Approach (retain/ retain with modifications/ remove/ new)

Timings

Risk assessment

Retain

Ongoing

Encouragement of vaccination

New

Ongoing

Environmental cleaning

Retain

Ongoing

Hand and respiratory hygiene

Retain

Ongoing

PPE in specific circumstances

Retain

Ongoing

Face coverings in communal areas

Retain

At least until October holidays (then contingent on further review).

 

 

Face coverings in secondary classrooms

Retain

Physical distancing for adults

Retain (note change to “at least 1m”, but 2m distancing expected to remain for logistical purposes)

One-way systems

Retain

Drop-off and pick-up

Retain

Staggered start and stop times/ break and lunch times

Retain

Restrictions on assemblies

Retain

Support for people in the highest risk groups/pregnant staff

Retain (updated guidance)

2x weekly at-home asymptomatic testing

Retain (updated guidance/materials to support uptake and recording)

Outbreak management

Retain (updated guidance re: public health approach)

Self-isolation, contact tracing and testing for adults 18+

Retain with modifications (updated guidance – removal of some restrictions for double-vaccinated adult close contacts)

Align relevant school arrangements with updated approach in wider society. Amendments to guidance on information letters and advice on LFD testing.

Self-isolation, contact tracing and testing for U18s

Retain with modifications (updated guidance – removal of some restrictions for U18 close contacts)

Groupings

Remove

No longer required

Ventilation

Retain (strengthened guidance for LAs on CO2 monitoring)

Ongoing

Restrictions on school visitors

Remove (but with some ongoing requirements)

Align relevant school arrangements with updated approach in wider society.

Restrictions on Drama, Music, PE and Dance

Remove (in line with previous guidance)

At least until October holidays (then contingent on further advice)

 

 

 

School Transport

Retain with modifications (alignment with public transport).

School trips

Retain (updated guidance)

Readiness and assurance

Retain (updated guidance)

Ongoing

Mitigations will be kept under constant review, and if data and evidence suggest that the approach to any specific mitigations should be updated at an earlier stage advice will be provided to that effect.

Annex A sets out detailed guidance on the application of mitigations and other safety measures. It has been updated to take account of evolving knowledge and experience of dealing with the pandemic, and to remove out-of-date material. Otherwise this material remains largely in line with previous versions of the Reducing Risks guidance and schools and local authorities will be familiar with much of the content.


Contact

Email: CERG@gov.scot  

First published: 25 Mar 2021 Last updated: 1 Oct 2021 -