As part of the Government’s roadmap, the Department for Education has confirmed that face coverings will no longer be required for pupils in classrooms or communal areas from 17 May. Staff are also not required to wear face coverings in classrooms but will still be expected to wear face coverings in communal areas where social distancing is not possible, including corridors and staff rooms.
Although the rules around face coverings have been relaxed, all other requirements, such as social distancing, hand washing/sanitisation, enhanced cleaning, use of bubbles and enhanced ventilation remain in place, and must be strictly adhered to. Twice weekly testing should also continue to be carried out.
In addition, although there is now no requirement to wear face coverings in classrooms, staff and pupils should still be permitted to wear face coverings in classrooms if they choose to do so.
The reintroduction of face coverings for pupils, students or staff may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular localised outbreaks, including variants of concern.
Face coverings must still be worn on public transport by pupils aged 11 and over and on dedicated school transport to secondary schools and colleges
The Government’s guidance represents the minimum requirements and schools and colleges are free to enhance these, such as continuing to recommend the use of face coverings.
School and college employers are ultimately responsible for the safety of staff and pupils and they will need to ensure that they have taken all appropriate steps, including reviewing their existing risk assessments, in light of the latest advice issued by the Government.
There has been no change to the guidance around staff moving between groups, and this remains limited to facilitating the delivery of the timetable and specialist provision. It does not extend to carrying out drop-ins or observations, and these should not be occurring at this time.
School and college employers are required to review and take into account the Government’s guidance on reopening. Employers also have a duty in law to review their health and safety arrangements, including updating school and college risk assessments prior to reopening fully to all pupils.
Members are advised to await further advice to be published shortly by the NASUWT.
Where members have concerns about the arrangements or plans in their school/college, they should notify the Union immediately.