In Part One, we talked about School Leaders’ legal responsibilities during the pandemic . And how Government’s Covid Guidelines do not over-rule Health & Safety Legislation, placing any liability squarely with School Leadership Teams. Here, we go through practical steps you can take to prevent exposing your staff, pupils and their families to increased risk of Covid infection.
What can I achieve with zero funding from DfE?
Sir Patrick Vallance advises that social distancing, masks and ventilation monitoring are all needed in indoor settings. So here’s how to put all these recognised safety measures into yours:
Start with this: #CovidIsAirborne
Acknowledge, educate and alert your staff, pupils and parents to the fact that Covid is spread through the air we breathe. As Donald Trump put it on 7 February 2020: “It goes through the air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air, and that’s how it’s passed!”
Identify all of the risks.
Remember, you’re not alone, consult and involve union safety reps for support. And follow the Management of Health and Safety at Work regulations and procedures to carry out your risk assessment. Start by conducting a robust risk assessment for every school activity:
- classroom learning
- lunch breaks
- toilet facilities
- transitioning around the building
- break times
- entering and exiting
For each of those activities, identify the risk of:
- aerosol transmission
- fomite transmission
Mitigate all of the risks to the lowest possible level
The most effective is to use a multi-layer strategy of all the scientifically recognised mitigations available to you.
For example, here’s how you can assess the risk for assemblies:
What are the risks of aerosol and fomite transmission?
Many people in a single space, talking, singing, whispering, shouting responses, etc.
How can I mitigate aerosol transmission?
- reducing numbers to facilitate social distancing
- ensuring ventilation is adequate for your space, number of people and duration.
- use a Co2 monitor to keep on top of the fresh air quality
- ensuring everyone who CAN wears a face covering
- not having singing, shouted responses “good morning”, etc
- ensuring no crowding/bottlenecks on entrance and exit
How can I mitigate fomite transmission?
- improving surface hygiene
- improving hand hygiene
- social distancing
- masking (so droplets aren’t expelled)
The risk of aerosol transmission in assemblies is very high. So the first step of Control Hierarchy would be to eliminate the risk and not hold them at all. You can still make your assemblies participatory and fun through technology such as teams or zoom.
Are you ready to make a positive difference?
Once you get started, it’s not as difficult as you might think. Accept donations, and consider crowdfunding for technology. Expect challenges along the way – some of your spaces may be harder to work with than others. But SafeEdForAll has a group of volunteer experts here, ready to give you advice and point you to excellent resources.
You CAN make a positive impact on everyone’s health and wellbeing in your school communities. So get in touch with us, and let’s talk about how you can start Covid-securing your school today.