Update for schools: 22 May 2020

This update contains information about risk assessments, PPE for mainstream schools and much more.

Dear colleagues

Policies and Procedures

During this challenging time, it’s unlikely that schools will be required to update each individual policy, to have it ratified by the governing body and publish on the website.  For this reason, we would advise that you reference on your risk assessment where there may be variations to policies during the COVID period. Policies to be prioritised include Health and Safety and Safeguarding.  We have already provided an addendum for the BCC Model Safeguarding Policy and will be providing further guidance on these areas next week.

Risk Assessment

We are providing a table of updates at the beginning of the evolving document to enable you to incorporate any changes into your risk assessment.  We expect to be in a position to have a confirmed document once the government has issued its scientific advice, currently due on 28th May.  After that date, schools can review their RAs themselves based upon national guidance as it is published by DfE.  Some schools will have access to data on local infection and death rates and this can be included in the risk assessment. The risk assessment will be updated to reflect these updates later today.

Advice from Dr Justin Varney, Director of Public Health, on Covid19 and BAME

  • Nationally the ONS analysis has identified an increased risk of death among some ethnic groups, although this increased risk reduces when age, gender and long term conditions like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease, but doesn’t disappear completely and further research is needed to explore this.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any different between in ethnic groups in terms of infection rates, i.e. who catches it, the difference is in the proportion who die.
  • In light of this it is important for risk assessments of individuals, staff and pupils, take this into account, the main risks are around health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease and high blood pressure, especially if poorly controlled and also obesity has been identified as a significant risk factor. The risk of death is also higher in older people over 65yrs and men have a slightly higher rate than women. Those with respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also pose higher risks, along with auto-immune conditions.  Smoking can also exacerbate the disease and lead to poorer outcomes
  • The NHS risk assessment suggests BAME individuals have a higher risk at a younger age, so as a rough guide consider a BAME 55yr old’s risk in the same way you would consider White 65yrs old, but the biggest risk factor is existing health conditions.
  • Once risks are identified then it would be sensible to work with your occupational health provider on how then to look at adjustments and whether staff can, for the remainder of term, support remote teaching or telephone support roles. This assessment will need to be on a case by case basis.
  • If someone in the household is shielding (part of the 1.5million), the children in that household should not be included in the first wave of students going back to school. Staff may however consider returning if they are able to practice good hand hygiene and follow the national guidelines on living with someone who is shielded.
  • It is less clear cut for children who are living in households with other vulnerable adults or siblings who are not shielded, however it is worth noting that the risk is less from younger children than older children and can be reduced through good hand hygiene.  This however will be a decision that parents will need to make individually based on their personal circumstances.

Pupils Returning to School

The Secretary of State’s notice modifying the definition of ‘pupil’ to enable schools to relax the requirements around registering those pupils who are with them temporarily because their usual school or setting is closed expires on 28 May 2020.  There is no information on whether this is likely to be extended. However, children of critical workers etc who are not in the eligible year groups will still be eligible to attend schools, so if their own school or setting has not re-opened it is reasonable to assume that the government’s expectation will be that existing arrangements continue until their own school or setting opens. If you need further support with this please contact: edsi.enquiries@birmingham.gov.uk

Specified teaching

Teaching assistants at levels 2 and 3 can supervise a class but they can’t be solely responsible for teaching in relation to the four bullet points:

  • Planning and preparing lessons and courses for pupils
  • Delivering lessons to pupils
  • Assessing the development, attainment and progress of pupils
  • Reporting on the development, progress and attainment of pupils

In terms of teaching a ‘bubble’ of pupils, we would advise that a teacher needs to be present. However, HLTAs can do these things but only up to a certain percentage. 

Modifying School Opening Hours for PPA

During the COVID period, schools are operating flexibly to meet the needs of their pupils so whilst you are not required to consult with parents on modifying the school day to incorporate PPA time, it is good practice to give parents/carers as much information as possible as soon as you can.

PPE packs for primary schools

As included in yesterday’s update, national guidance is that mainstream schools require PPE for:

  • Children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs
  • Use of PPE if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting, needs direct personal care until they can return home, a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained and contact with the child or young person is necessary

This proposal in respect of the second bullet point is to provide “starter” PPE packs for schools to enable re-opening next month. These packs will include masks, gloves, aprons and visors. Longer term arrangements are still to be determined. The packs will be delivered to a site in Birmingham and arrangements for schools to collect their packs will be shared with you early next week.

Updates from us next week

We will share updates with you next where absolutely necessary. BCC officers will continue to be available for support and advice.

Finally Eid Mubarak to all those who will be celebrating this weekend. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Ian Ward has shared a video message which is available here.

Kind regards


Dr Tim O’Neill
Director Education and Skills

Social Links