Education Minister publishes new school day guidance

Education Minister Peter Weir has today published revised guidance, setting out how schools should plan for the new school day. The guidance outlines proposals for the full reopening of schools at the start of the new school year.

This updated guidance takes account of the latest scientific advice locally and from across the UK.

It covers issues such as:

  • Social distancing and reducing physical interaction
  • Hygiene and handwashing
  • Use of PPE  / face coverings
  • School transport
  • School meals
  • What to do if someone develops COVID-19 symptoms.

Social Distancing For Wraparound Care and Extended Schools

The guidance also includes information on social distancing for wraparound care and extended schools. It states that wraparound support such as school breakfast clubs and after school child care arrangements – as well as other forms of pastoral care – can be delivered and have the potential to greatly assist children and young people (particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds) with their return to school. Wraparound Care and Extended Schools provision should operate using social distancing guidance as far as is possible and comply with any additional guidance provided by the Department of Health.

Interaction with childcare provision

The guidance refers directly to guidance published by the Department of Health to assist registered childcare providers and acknowledges that many parents rely on childcare provision, whether on school premises or elsewhere, to provide wraparound care for their children while they are at work.

Schools are encouraged to engage positively and collaborate with local childcare providers to ensure that children can be dropped off and picked up in a safe and organised manner.

As with schools, childcare providers will be operating protective bubbles where possible, alongside other measures such as enhanced hand hygiene and cleaning practices and active engagement with Testing and Tracing. These measures are intended to limit the number of different interactions in any single day in order to reduce the risk of transmission and assist in tracking and tracing where there is a positive test.

There is a recognition that, in most cases, children attending childcare providers will be placed in a different (but consistent) bubble from the bubble established by their school. Registered childcare providers will keep their own records for track and trace purposes, and it will be important that in the event of a pupil being exposed to, or testing positive for the virus, parents alert their childcare provider.

There is also advice for school or pre-school setting which share facilities such as their entrance, exit or general facilities including toilets and kitchen facilities with a childcare provider.

Read the guidance in full

The full guidance is available on the Department of Education website here.