COVID-19: guidance for educational settings

Guidance for schools and other educational settings in providing advice

 

This guidance will assist schools and other educational settings in providing advice for pupils, students, staff and parents or carers regarding:

  • the novel coronavirus, COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
  • what to do if someone confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 has been in a school or other educational setting
  • what advice to give to individuals who have travelled to specified countries and areas within the last 14 days

Coronavirus advice for educational settings poster

The poster accompanies the guidance and should be downloaded, printed and displayed in all educational settings. It is aimed at parents, carers, students, headteachers, teaching and support team staff. The poster is available in both portrait and landscape format.

 

What you need to know

  • staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
  • if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
  • clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
  • supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • posters and lesson plans on general hand hygiene can be found on the eBug website
  • unless you have been directly advised to close by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team, we recommend all education settings remain open

Background

This guidance will assist staff in addressing coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.

This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a new, continuous cough or a high temperature.

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection.

What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site

If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible and if appropriate, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Settings should be mindful of individual children’s needs – for example it would not be appropriate for younger children to be alone without adult supervision. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.

If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.

If they need clinical advice, they (or their teacher, parent or guardian) should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.

In most cases, closure of the educational setting will not be needed but this will be a local decision based on various factors such as establishment size and risk of further spread.

If there is an urgent public health action to take, the educational setting will be contacted by the local Public Health England Health Protection Team who will undertake a risk assessment and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. PHE will rarely advise a school to close but this may be necessary if there are so many staff being isolated that the school has operational issues. Your local authority will support you to make this assessment. PHE will work with the headteacher, principal or management team, and the Local Authority Public Health team, to advise on the management of children, pupils, students or staff.

Limiting spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings

Education settings can help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by reminding everyone of the public health advice.

Staff, children, pupils, students and families should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.

Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products. Posters, leaflets and other materials are available.

Cleaning and Waste

See guidance on cleaning and waste disposal.

Tools for use in childcare and educational settings

There is a dedicated helpline number for educational settings – please call 0800 046 8687 for any specific question not covered on this page.

PHE has resource materials that contain public health advice about how you can help stop the spread of viruses, like those that cause coronavirus (COVID-19), by practising good respiratory and hand hygiene. To access, download and share this information, you will need to register for an account which only takes a couple of minutes.

Use e-Bug resources to teach pupils about hygiene.

Education Scotland produces resources for the use of schools in Scotland.

 

1. Travel for children under 18 organised by educational settings

1.1 Overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings

The government advises against any overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings. This is because trip leaders would face significant challenges in making arrangements to ensure children’s welfare, should adult supervisors or children be required to self-isolate.

1.2 Domestic trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings

The Department for Education is not currently advising against domestic trips (residential and non-residential) for children under 18 organised by educational settings. However, educational settings should refresh their risk assessments to take into account the latest health advice and ensure measures are in place and agreed with parents in case children or adult supervisors believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 and exhibit symptoms that require self-isolation.

1.3 Overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings currently taking place

Any overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings currently taking place can continue. Educational settings should refresh their risk assessments and ensure measures are in place and agreed with parents in case children or adult supervisors believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 and exhibit symptoms that require self-isolation.

If you’re a UK national who needs emergency help from the UK government while overseas, you can contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission or the FCO in London on 0207 008 1500 for help or advice 24/7.

2. Travel for students over 18 and staff organised by educational settings

2.1 Students and staff considering travelling overseas for placements or exchanges

If you’re a UK student or member of staff who is considering travelling overseas in the near future, see the latest FCO travel advice.

If you’re travelling with, or on behalf of, your setting or institution (for example, a higher education provider), you should speak to them before you depart for advice on whether your trip should go ahead.

Before you travel, you should also refer to the guidance for returning travellers to familiarise yourself with the actions you may need to take when you return to the UK. Read information about self-isolation.

You should be mindful of the possibility that travel advice may change whilst overseas. We advise you to regularly check all relevant GOV.UK guidance.

All travellers (including those planning travel overseas and return to the UK from destinations without confirmed cases of COVID-19) should follow guidance for travellers to prepare for your trip and reduce your risk of exposure to COVID-19.

2.2 Students and staff considering travelling overseas during term breaks

You should consult the latest travel advice from the FCO and Public Health England (PHE) Public Health matters guidance before you travel if you are:

  • a non-UK national student or member of staff studying or working in the UK
  • a UK resident student or member of staff who is considering travelling overseas during term breaks
  • a UK resident student or member of staff currently studying or working overseas who is considering travelling back to the UK during term breaks

You can subscribe to email alerts for the country/territory you’re in, or planning to visit, via the ‘Get email alerts’ link on each travel advice page.

If you plan to travel overseas, you should notify your educational setting or higher education institution so they are aware of your intention to travel, and are able to provide you with the latest advice and guidance.

2.3 UK students considering travelling overseas to start or continue full courses

If you’re a UK student or member of staff who is considering travelling overseas in the near future to undertake an entire qualification (for example, a whole undergraduate course), see the latest FCO travel advice.

The National Travel Health Network and Centre has also produced general advice on preparing for overseas travel. All travellers (including those planning travel to destinations without confirmed cases of COVID-19) should follow the guidance for travellers to prepare for their trip and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

All travellers should be mindful of the possibility that travel advice may change whilst they are overseas. We advise you to regularly check all FCO, PHE and other relevant guidance during your trip and check it again before you return to the UK.

Before you travel, you should also refer to the guidance for returning travellers to familiarise yourself with the actions you may need to take when you return to the UK. Read information about self-isolation.

2.4 UK students and staff already studying or working overseas

All UK students and staff currently studying or working overseas should continue to monitor the travel advice issued by the FCO and comply with any COVID-19 control measures put in place by their host nation.

You can subscribe to email alerts for the country/territory you’re in via the ‘Get email alerts’ link on each travel advice page. You should also consult the latest PHE Public Health matters guidance for steps that you can take to protect yourself.

If you’re a UK national who needs emergency help from the UK government, you can contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission or the FCO in London on 0207 008 1500 for help or advice 24/7.

Before you travel, you should also refer to the guidance for returning travellers to familiarise yourself with the actions you may need to take when you return to the UK. Read information about self-isolation.

Read guidance on what you can do if you need financial help and who you can contact for support when abroad.

2.5 Students already on Erasmus+ exchanges

Travel to and from regions affected by COVID-19 may have to be postponed or cancelled, and participants should speak to their provider in case alternative arrangements are necessary. Where this travel is funded through the Erasmus+ or European Solidarity Corps programmes, the Force Majeure clause in your contract may apply. See the National Agency’s website for more information.

3. Travel insurance

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced information on travel insurance implications following the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have any further questions about your cover or would like further reassurance, you should contact your travel insurance provider.

4. More information