‘Go outside for classes’ to lessen Covid risk
SCHOOLS should consider outdoor lessons if pupils who are likely to have mixed closely test positive for Covid-19.
But the suggestion, which appears in a Department for Education document, has been branded “total fudge” by one union. It has called for “an urgent plan, backed up by cast-iron investment” to install ventilation equipment in school buildings.
The document details thresholds for schools and childcare settings. One such threshold is when five children, students or staff, who are likely to have mixed closely, test positive within a 10-day period.
Another is when 10 per cent who have mixed closely test positive within 10 days.
The document says: “At the point of reaching a threshold, education and childcare settings should review and reinforce the testing, hygiene and ventilation measures they already have in place.”
It says schools should also consider “whether any activities could take place outdoors, including exercise, assemblies, or classes”.
It also says they should look at “ways to improve ventilation indoors, where this would not significantly impact thermal comfort” and “enhanced cleaning on touch points and equipment”.
But Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The suggestion that schools could realistically consider holding assemblies and lessons outdoors during the autumn term, as temperatures plummet, is a total fudge on the Government’s part. What is needed is an urgent plan, backed up by cast-iron investment, to install ventilation equipment in school buildings as soon as possible.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We welcome the Government producing some form of contingency plan for schools, although measures such as outside lessons will be difficult in winter.”