Is your education setting prepared to open?

Children in a classroom

In a recent government announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced to the nation that all children – across nurseries, primary and secondary schools, and colleges – will be back at school from September “on a full-time plan”.

The past six months have been exceptionally challenging for all education settings as they have had to adapt to a completely new way of teaching, whilst suffering from a lack of funding during the crisis. More recently, schools have been welcoming back pupils in small ‘bubbles’ to provide access to education for their children whilst having the correct health and safety measures in place.

We understand that reopening your doors safely, after a difficult couple of months, will be your number one priority, especially after your pupils will have been learning from home and there may be quite a lot of catching up to do. Because of this, you won’t want anything getting in the way of reopening your education setting, so it’s vital you’ve ticked all the boxes.

Health & safety measures pre-COVID19

Conducting, monitoring, recording, and reviewing Health & Safety is integral. Without sufficient checks in place, you not only put you and your school at risk, but you place staff, pupils, and visitors in harm’s way too.

The financial cost of getting it wrong? In 2016/17, the average cost of a Health & Safety conviction was a massive £126,000. To give you a helping hand with your duties, we’ve created a checklist that our experts use when inspecting school premises, which you can access here.

Updating your Fire Risk Assessment

When it comes to the safety of your school, college or nursery, prevention is better than cure. And the definitive way to prevent as many risks of fire as possible is to regularly conduct and update your Fire Risk Assessments.

Note: If you’ve been closed for a few months, conducting a Fire Risk Assessment is mandatory.

Updating your Fire Risk Assessment so you can prove that your education setting is safe includes servicing fire extinguishers, alarms, emergency lighting, updating documents, providing training to your staff, identifying hazards and so much more. Check out our full breakdown of a fire risk assessment so you know you’re on the right tracks.

Rearranging shared spaces

Schools in Scotland would have had to consider rearranging classrooms so they’re COVID-secure before they opened their doors on 11 August. While England, Wales and Northern Ireland open their education settings at the end of August/start of September, they’ll need to consider changing other areas such as staff rooms, dining areas, and office spaces where the virus can easily spread. This may include extending a shared area over a few different rooms, so it’s important you’re prepared for when your school doors open

Once you’ve completed this, you’ll need to update your staff on the changes you’ve made so they’re aware and can relay any feedback to you which might benefit the school.

Reassuring parents

It’s been an extremely difficult time for everyone, and parents will no doubt be anxious about sending their children back into full-time education. To put their mind at ease, you might want to inform parents on the new changes and regulations of your education setting. This could include putting a message on your website, sending an email to parents, or having a phone call with any uncertain parents and guardians. Communication is key here!

Holiday quarantine

As we ease out of lockdown, many families will want to enjoy a holiday before the first school-term begins, but how do you introduce quarantine measures to your employees and pupils?

According to gov.uk, “any person entering or returning to the UK from abroad is currently required to provide contact details and remain at the contact address provided for a period of 14 days from the date of entering the UK. Fines will be imposed for persons refusing to provide contact details or refusing to self-isolate.”

This raises several concerns for any employer, but for an education setting, you might be worried about how to calculate your employees’ wages, if your pupils can study from home during quarantine, how to keep regular communication up with your staff, and so much more. We know this is a huge change to the way we work which is why our experts have created a guide on managing employees when they’re due to travel abroad, just click here.

Employee training

Your people have been working exceptionally hard during these confusing times by providing continuous education from their own homes. To maintain a motivated and engaged workforce, offering them training wherever possible is the perfect way to let them develop their skills and knowledge, that they’ll use in their everyday work.

We know that it’ll be extremely difficult to take your people out of work for training, which is why we can come to you to provide you with the sufficient training at a time that suits you and your employees. You can find out more here.

Struggling with employees who are feeling anxious about returning?

According to the Official National of Statistics, 10% of employees who reported COVID-19 was affecting their mental wellbeing are worried about returning to work. If this applies to some of your members of staff, it’s important you take the right steps to support them.

Since the government’s 10 May announcement, the two biggest responsibilities on your shoulders as an employer are making sure your workplace is COVID-secure and your legal duty to perform a COVID-19 specific risk assessment. By completing these, this should reassure your people that you’ve done everything possible to prevent the spread of infection and keeping them safe in doing so.

If you’re wondering what else you can do to support your people during this difficult time, you can take a look at our expert advice here.

These are challenging times, especially for education settings. But don’t worry, our team of HR & Employment Law experts provide you with their specialist advice based on the latest government guidelines to help you work through this difficult period.

If you want the advice and backing of a team of HR and Employment Law experts, feel free to give us a call on 0345 844 1111 to talk through your business needs or you email us at hello@citation.co.uk.

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