FAQs - Full opening guidance for schools

Updated 7 November 2020

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Health and Wellbeing Education: Mental and Emotional Health (Readiness To Learn)

Pupils returning to school in September will be facing new challenges as they transition into the next stage of their education. The prolonged time away from the classroom, differing experiences of home learning programmes and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pupils' emotional health and wellbeing, will be factors that are foremost in the minds of Head Teachers.

Providing opportunities for pupils to engage in meaningful health and wellbeing education (PSHE) can be the catalyst needed to tackle emotional trauma, rebuild resilience and redevelop pupil's confidence and readiness for learning and progression.

The Raising Aspiration and Narrowing the Gaps (in Health and Wellbeing) Team provide a range of services to support ongoing school development. Please contact the team to discuss your school's development needs and projects: jono.madeley@plymouth.gov.uk, or michael.house@plymouth.gov.uk)

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Healthy Child Quality Mark

The Healthy Child Quality Mark (HCQM) is Plymouth's Health, Wellbeing, Citizenship development program (Removing Barriers to Learning and Raising Aspiration). The HCQM provides structure and rigour to the review and improvement of school practice. The HCQM Programme has been working successfully with education settings for over ten years and over three-quarters of all Plymouth schools are part of the HCQM family. The HCQM scrutinises provision, practice and policy, providing in-depth school development support, yet is delivered in a way that minimises time and resource outlay for school staff. For further information please contact Michael House on michael.house@plymouth.gov.uk

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Statutory Relationships, Sex and Health Education

The Department for Education has written to schools to advise that the requirement to begin teaching new Relationship, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, from September 2020, has been relaxed.  RSHE will still be compulsory in the 2020/21 academic year but schools will be given flexibility about when they start teaching it.

Many Plymouth schools and settings are well prepared for the statutory changes and have already developed bespoke RSHE curriculum, following consultation with pupils and families.  If a school is unable to start teaching RSHE in September this year, following an assessment of preparedness, will be able to delay until the summer term of 2021. The PSHE Association provide comprehensive step-by-step guidance to aid preparations.  

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Travelling to and from School

Schools should actively promote 'safer travel guidance for passengers' for any all students using public transport. This includes advice for the wearing of face coverings whilst waiting for public transport for all where social distancing is not likely to be maintained i.e. 2 metres

Note: The legislation does not currently include 'school transport service' - private contracts/taxis etc for sole use of schools and pupils'

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Hydro Therapy Pools 

There are some schools which have hydrotherapy pools. Work has been done to liaise with Physiotherapists and the NHS over the use of such pools and the following suggestions are made as part of you COVID-19 risk assessment

  • All users must be screened (children and support staff) prior to use
  • If therapy can be directed by poolside, maintaining social distancing this should be the first option (often not the case)
  • User numbers should be 1:1 and if large enough 2m social distancing should be observed within the pool as well as reception/waiting area, changing area, showers and poolside
  • All users must comply with infection prevention and control
  • Swim hats may prevent the need for hair washing (may be clinical reasons as to why this can/cannot occur)
  • If there is to be a risk of splashing/submerging then wearing a face mask is not possible the mask should be removed and stored in a disposable bag for the duration of the session
  • It may be necessary to wear a face mask in the pool environment and should be aligned with any PPE conditions/requirement within the school, bearing in mind the possible increased risk from the hydro pool environment
  • Emergency evacuation trained staff should be within the pool area as directed by risk assessment and users individual needs, appropriate emergency PPE should be provided and readily available
  • Sessions should be limited to, wherever possible, school defined bubbles
  • After each session, all areas must be cleaned and disinfected as per ATACP guidance
  • Air conditioning should operate on 100% fresh air with no recirculation
  • Water treatment should be in line with advice as per your Legionella COSSH assessment
  • A suitable time period between sessions to allow for ventilation and cleaning should be put in place .i.e. a minimum of 30 minutes
  • Further advice and guidance can be sought from the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group (PWTAG) and should be discussed with a suitable competent person

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School Libraries and the use of books as resource

Advice has been sought from our Schools library team and from institutes such as CILIC, Libraries connect and the School Libraries association, in order to help schools plan and amend their risk assessments accordingly.

The following suggested control measures are as follows

  • To arrange a click and collect service wherever possible
  • Specific opening times for year groups or bubbles
  • Browsing by appointment only and early morning browsing for vulnerable pupils (where the cleaning is most effective)
  • Maximum time limit for browsing of 30 minutes
  • Maximum numbers for browsing to be set according to size of library to maximise social distancing
  • Books on shelves to be face on wherever possible
  • Remove newspapers and magazine (as these will be difficult to clean)
  • Any book browsed and not chosen, or browsed and used in library and not taken away, to be placed in quarantine (trolley or box)
  • Returned books left for 72hrs before being handled, processed and returned to shelves
  • One way system for browsing shelves, with separate entrances/exits, if possible
  • Remove or reduce seating/tables (especially soft furnishings)
  • Sanitation stations available
  • Good hand washing hygiene

In terms of books being used as resources

Wherever possible

  • A selection of books to be allocated to each bubble, held for 72 hours and then wiped, returned to pool before reissue (effective for younger children in schools)
  • (As far as is possible) Books not to be shared amongst bubbles
  • To be wiped down between use (if used by multiple classes within bubbles)
  • To be left ideally 72 hours before reuse, if this is not possible then books should be wiped down
  • If books must be shared between bubbles and there is no option to either photocopy or provide extra resources then they must be wiped down before and after use

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RIDDOR Assessment and Infection Control

For controlled schools and those who buy back services from Plymouth City Council, we have released a COVID-19 Transmission assessment flowchart and a transmission risk assessment. This will continue to allow the Plymouth City Council Health Safety and Wellbeing team assist in the management of reporting your RIDDOR incidents and any that might be related to COVID-19 to meet the HSE's requirements for reporting. Further information on the reporting requirements can be found on the HSE webpages.

In the event that an employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 it is important that we assess each case against the requirements to report to the HSE if the transmission may have occurred through their work activities. The following flow chart and assessment template will take you through a logical sequence of questions, based on what is known about the most likely mode of transmission to the least likely.

In the event that the employee may have contracted the virus through their work activities, please report as an incident using the established process, and attach your assessment so that HSW colleagues can report to the HSE as a RIDDOR.

The flow chart and RIDDOR assessment also provides guidance on how to identify any close contacts the employee with symptoms has had, and the action you should take to ensure their close contacts self-isolate until the outcome of the test is known

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Control of Substances Hazardous to Health and storage of Hand Sanitiser

Due to the impact of COVID-19 there may be a requirement to store large quantities of alcohol based hand sanitiser on your site. Given the flammable nature of alcohol and the potential for the release of flammable vapours there is a requirement to ensure that it is adequately stored and that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment has been carried out. This should include a task based risk assessment on access, transportation and removing items, a COSHH assessment on the safe storage and use of hand sanitiser with appropriate signage and an amendment to your Fire Risk Assessment. Large bulk storage of sanitiser should be stored along, but no limited to, the following guidelines

  • External, cool, well ventilated area (ideally less than 25 degrees Celsius)
  • Tight fitting lids on all containers
  • Dry conditions
  • COSHH storage and risks (as a flammable liquid)
  • Suitable COSHH cupboard, if appropriate
  • No smoking within the vicinity of the storage area
  • No more than 250L in one area
  • Amended Fire Risk Assessment and associated documents
  • Regular condition checks; temperature, noticeable vapours/fumes and thermal expansion of containers

If you have any concerns you should contact your competent H&S adviser for further information, for controlled schools this may be the PCC HSW Team and can be contacted at healthandsafety@plymouth.gov.uk

If you have any questions or feedback about these pages please email childrensservicesresponse@plymouth.gov.uk

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