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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

This version of the guidance supersedes those in place during the 2021 to 2022 academic year to date. It represents the next step in the phased approach to easing mitigations, while maintaining the focus on doing so in a way that supports wellbeing, learning and teaching. It sets out that local authorities and schools should continue to apply all those mitigations that remain in place.

The Advisory Sub-group on Education and Children’s Issues  (‘the sub-group’) as well as senior clinicians have provided advice on these changes based upon the latest clinical and public health assessment of the situation. Consistent with previous advice, the sub-group acted on the principles that: i) mitigations in schools should be retained for no longer than is necessary based on the state of the epidemic and evidence about risk, and ii) that there should be a presumption against placing a greater restriction on children and young people than on the rest of society as the vaccination programme progresses.  

All children, young people and staff should continue to implement and strictly observe these mitigations. 

Key changes to previous iterations of the guidance include:

  • removing the requirement to wear face coverings in secondary school classrooms, while maintaining existing provisions in communal areas or when in close contact with others
  • removing the remaining restrictions on assemblies
  • transition visits can now resume fully if appropriately risk assessed

These changes come into force from Monday 28 February 2022. In addition, as advised by the sub-group, attention should continue to be paid to maximum compliance with all ongoing measures to help to reduce transmission.

The table below summarises the current approach for key mitigations:

Mitigation Status
Risk assessment Retain
Encouragement of vaccination Retain
Environmental cleaning Retain
Hand and respiratory hygiene Retain
PPE in specific circumstances Retain
Face coverings in communal areas Retain
Face coverings in secondary classrooms Remove
Physical distancing for adults Retain
One-way systems Retain
Staggered timetables (inc start and finish) Remove
Restrictions on assemblies Remove
Support for people in the highest risk groups Retain
Support for pregnant staff Retain
2x weekly at-home asymptomatic testing Retain
Outbreak management Retain
Self-isolation, contact tracing and testing for adults 18+ Unchanged
Self-isolation, contact tracing and testing for U18s Unchanged
Minimise contacts/groupings Remove
Ventilation  Retain
Restrictions on school visitors Remove (but with some ongoing requirements)
Restrictions on Drama, Music, PE and Dance Not required
School Transport Retain 
Limits on school trips Remove (but with some ongoing requirements)
Readiness and assurance Retain
Residential accommodation Retain

In the event of a significant outbreak, schools may be expected and supported by their local health protection teams (HPTs) to introduce further mitigations (as HPT advise) for a temporary basis and while that outbreak is managed. Where that is the case, local HPTs will support schools in that process and help ensure that any temporary mitigations are necessary, sufficient and proportionate dependent upon local circumstances.

The mitigations in detail section (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.

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

Risk assessment

It is a legal requirement that local authorities and headteachers ensure that risk assessments are conducted and regularly reviewed and updated (including at points when the guidance is updated). In implementing this guidance, it is imperative that schools and local authorities continue to take a balanced approach, and take every appropriate step to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and staff in schools. Full guidance on the risk assessment process is in the mitigations in detail section (annex A).


Contact

Email: CERG@gov.scot  

First published: 25 Mar 2021 Last updated: 3 Mar 2022 -