New DfE guidance issued on social distancing in childcare settings and schools
Wednesday, March 25, 2020
The Department for Education (DfE), together with Public Health England (PHE), has published new guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings.
The guidance, which is aimed at schools and settings that remain open to vulnerable children and those of key workers, suggests staggering lunch times, discouraging parents from gathering at school gates and ensuring class sizes are kept as small as possible, as well as a range of other measures.
It acknowledges that social distancing with very young children will be ‘harder to maintain’, and says that staff should implement the measures as ‘far as they are able’, while ensuring children are kept safe and well cared for.
In the guidance it states that the Department for Education (DfE) will work with schools, childcare settings and local authorities to ensure that adequate supplies of personal and domestic cleaning products are available. It says that the Department will issue further detailed guidance for settings regarding the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if they require it.
It concludes that schools will also be reimburse for ‘exceptional’ costs they face as result of the coronavirus.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has however criticised the guidance.
General secretary Paul Whiteman said, ‘Last night we saw the first iteration of the Government’s safety guidance for schools. We expect further and better advice to be issued throughout the day today. We continue to engage with the DfE while it is updated.
‘School staff are playing a leading role in the fight against Coronavirus and it is right that the Government provide them with expert medical advice, practical guidance and the resources needed to keep themselves and children safe.’
Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson said, 'Teachers and school staff are on the front line, playing a crucial role in our fight against coronavirus – I cannot thank them enough for everything they are doing.
'In order to help keep them and their pupils safe, we have issued tailored guidance for schools and education settings on social distancing and other hygiene measures. It offers practical advice to schools, like staggering break times and the movement of pupils around schools.
'We will provide further guidance for special settings, and continue to work with the sector to ensure schools get all the support they need.'
- The DfE guidance is available here
- See also our Big Issue on the coronavirus for the latest stories and advice