The government’s announcement that schools should start re-opening to certain groups of pupils on a phased basis from 1 June 2020 raises a number of significant issues for schools. The resistance from the unions has been well documented.
We have had a lot clients contact us about how they can manage the risks and communications with stakeholders. There are various issues to navigate including staff who are refusing to return to work, unions threatening legal action and parents who are very anxious about whether it is safe for their child to return to school.
Our recommendation is that schools and trusts should set a policy about working and operations and from there build a picture which relates to each setting. We have therefore been working on a “Staying Safe in School during COVID-19” toolkit which includes a detailed policy which states how you will operate and manage risks when open. The policy includes:
- A comprehensive ‘Staying Safe in School During Covid-19’ policy with appendices which include:
- A quick-reference flowchart for parents;
- A quick reference flowchart for staff;
- A policy on risk assessments for staff; and
- Staying safe in school rules for pupils.
- Template letters to parents regarding the policy and a separate template letter to communicate the logistics to specific groups of parents about their child returning to school.
- A template response to the unions.
The purpose of the policy is to help you articulate all the measures you are taking (which should be identified by carrying out risk assessments) which can be used to help defend claims or grievances provided you operate in accordance with your policy. It deals with all operational matters including pupil behaviour and staff management as well as dealings with contractors and volunteers. The policy would be your public statement as to what you will do and we can also provide background, confidential guidance for trustees / governors to help them assess legal risks and satisfy their duties (helping them to navigate the legal obligations, to know when to take action and have the confidence to do so). Our toolkit also includes series of scenarios in a diagram format to help you and your stakeholders to make quick decisions.
If this is of interest to you or if you have any other questions or concerns about re-opening schools, please contact Andrea Squires (firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7593 5039) or Theresa Kerr (email@example.com / 020 7593 5154 for more details.