Support and guidance for schools during COVID-19 (Health and Safety)
To provide advice about health and safety in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This page should be read alongside the information on the following pages:
Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak (Schools Covid-19 Operational guidance) was updated in August 2021. Changes to the guidance include:
- update to make clear who is no longer required to isolate if identified as a close contact, including clarifying that this includes young people up to the age of 18 years and 6 months (it previously said 18 years and 4 months)
- added additional detail on what close contacts should do whilst awaiting their PCR test results
- updated information on contingency planning in schools, with link to update ‘contingency framework’
- updated information on boarding school pupils attending from abroad, as quarantine rules have changed
The guidance outlines the Public Health advice that you should follow to minimise COVID-19 risks. It explains that you must:
- comply with health and safety law
- review risk assessments
- work through the system of controls identified
The guidance offers advice about how to open more widely in the safest way possible, focusing on measures that can be taken to limit the spread of the virus
Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care provides more information about preventing and controlling infection. It explains the strategy for infection prevention and control.
Please make sure that you read and follow the guidance carefully. It provides links to other relevant documentation and guidance.
Risk assessments should directly address the risks associated with COVID-19 and outline the control measures that leaders are putting in place to mitigate and control risk for pupils and staff.
The DfE has issued guidance on risk assessments.
In addition, MKC have created a risk assessment template (XLSX, 239KB) that we hope supports you in undertaking an audit of risk. This is offered as a supportive tool: there’s no expectation that you use this specific template but we do urge you to reflect on the content. You can and should feel empowered to amend it to meet your school’s specific needs.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also provide additional guidance on COVID risk assessments on their managing risks and risk assessment at work webpage.
Finally, don’t forget to update your risk assessments for pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs.
Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Please ensure that you have read and understood the guidance from the Health and Safety Executive about ventilation.
You may also want to read the DfE press release announcing the news that all schools are to receive carbon dioxide monitors
Administering treatment and medication during COVID-19
During the current pandemic, the usual requirements to provide medical treatment remain. It’s therefore important that you have risk assessments and procedures in place to support you in dealing with any health and/or medical situations that arise whilst taking appropriate measures to reduce the risk of transmission.
In addition to routine care and acute illness caused by COVID-19, procedures should be agreed to ensure the safe and timely management of emergency situations. These might include staff needing to:
- administer anti-anaphylactic injections (AAI) such as an EpiPen
- administer CPR
- administer choking treatment such as abdominal trusts or back slaps
- manage seizures
- treat wounds, bites, stings, scalds or burns
To support you in undertaking these actions safely you should read safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care which provides more information about preventing and controlling infection, including the use of PPE and access to testing. It explains the strategy for infection prevention and control, including the specific circumstances in which PPE should be used to support safe working during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Please also consult the attached table (PDF, 307KB) to determine the level of PPE required for the situation.
First aid requirements
Activities within school should be carefully planned to ensure that risk of injury to staff and pupils remains low.
The HSE publication, first aid during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is very helpful. HSE always strongly recommends that workplace first aiders undertake annual refresher training. If first aid training or requalification during the COVID-19 pandemic has not included practical training and assessment for giving rescue breaths, employers should make sure it’s included in the next refresher course.
The DfE has published Statutory guidance which is to be kept under review: Statutory guidance under review - Early Years foundation stage: Coronavirus Disapplications. This provides information about what to do if paediatric first aid (PFA) requalification training is prevented. If you don’t have someone who is PFA certificated on site you should:
- undertake a risk assessment to consider and mitigate the likelihood of a serious incident
- ensure that at least one person on site has a current First Aid at Work or emergency PFA certificate
Please also see the information on the Safeguarding page.
Face Coverings in education
Information on face coverings in education can now be found in the guidance for:
- early years and childcare settings
- further education colleges and providers
- special schools, special post-16 providers and alternative provision
- higher education providers
Stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection
Public Health England (PHE) has published guidance for families. Across MK we know that there are many people living with extended family. We recommend sharing this guidance with the members of your school community for whom you think it is appropriate.
MKC Health and Safety Support to Schools
Schools need to minimise the spread of COVID-19 through:
- Ensuring good hygiene for everyone.
- Maintaining appropriate cleaning regimes.
- Keeping occupied spaces well ventilated.
- Following public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19
These requirements are likely to be in place for some time.
*Please note - This guidance is subject to change – always check the government guidance.
Top tips for schools:
- Carry out risk assessments for both children and staff on risks associated with COVID-19
- Keep your workplace clean
- Tell parents and contractors about your plans so they are prepared
- Ensure that all health and safety building checks have been done before opening and regular checks are in place. Further guidance on premises and property maintenance can be found on the MKC Health and Safety for Schools web page.
- Fire evacuation plan and first aid – check if this has been impacted by any staffing changes
- Ensure gas and electrical appliances/systems have been checked and are safe to use
- Water - Commission a water treatment specialist to chlorinate and flush the complete system for all hot and cold water systems (including drinking water) if the system has not remained operational through routine flushing of little used outlets
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is carrying out spot checks and inspections on all types of businesses in all areas to ensure they are COVID secure.
Please contact the MKC health and safety team if you need any specific Health and Safety support.
Last Updated: 6 September 2021