Updated guidance for education settings on coronavirus (COVID-19)
Today 16/03/2020, the Department for Education and Public Health England have issued updated guidance for education settings on COVID-19. This guidance will assist staff in addressing COVID-19 in educational settings. This includes childcare, schools, further and higher educational institutions.
What you need to know:
staff, young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal
if staff, young people or children become unwell on site with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature they should be sent home
clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
The updated guidance can be found here:
Current advice remains in place: no education or children’s social care setting should close in response to a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
The Chief Medical Officer has advised that the impact of closing schools on both children’s education and on the workforce would be substantial, but the benefit to public health may not be. Decisions on future advice to education or children’s social care settings will be taken based on the latest and best scientific evidence, which at this stage suggests children are a lower risk group.
Recording school pupil absences
Where a pupil is in self-isolation, in accordance with latest information and advice from Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, the pupil should be recorded as unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances in the attendance register. Code Y (Unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances) should be used in this instance.
If a pupil does not attend school, despite the school operating as usual and the pupil is not self-isolating, they should be marked as absent. It is for headteachers to determine whether or not the absence is authorised depending on the individual circumstances.
Where a pupil cannot attend school due to illness, as normally would happen, the pupil should be recorded as absent in the attendance register and the school will authorise the absence. Code I (Illness) should be used in this instance.
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves is to wash their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Public Health England recommends that in addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, everyone should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.
Watch this short NHS film for guidance:
Department for Education coronavirus helpline
The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)
Please note, we are currently experiencing high volumes of calls. We appreciate your patience at this time and apologise for any wait that you may experience. To ensure that we answer your calls as quickly as possible we have now extended our opening hours to cover weekends.
If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.
Where to find the latest information
Updates on COVID-19:
Guidance for educational settings:
Guidance for social or community care and residential settings:
Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:
Latest Department for Education information:
Please keep your GIAS school contacts up to date
If you work in a school, please take this opportunity to review your contact information in Get Information About Schools (GIAS).
To update your record, please go to the GIAS home page, “Sign in” using your “DfE Sign-in” credentials and select GIAS from your available services here:
For Attention of Headteachers - Please see update below:
The DfE have today sent an update to all schools launching a DfE Coronavirus helpline. I have copied this at the end of this email for your ease of reference. These direct updates will now be sent daily from the DfE to keep you updated on the government’s response to COVID 19.
I have also had enquiries from schools relating to pupil absence. Our current advice would be that if the pupil’s absence follows the isolation guidelines laid out by Public Health England (i.e. they have had close contact with an infected person or they have returned from a category one area) then the absence should be authorised. If the absence is not in line with this advice, then it need not be authorised.
note that this is general guidance and the decision as always will rest with individual headteacher who will have a better knowledge of the individual circumstance. Information relating to staff absence for employers is included in the links below.
Public Health England
Latest advice from Public Health England is available at : https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance
Health and safety
A number of staff have asked about the cleaning of equipment such as shared phones and keyboards. You school may want to consider the access staff have to cleaning wipes or other ways of cleaning this equipment at regular intervals. Contact the Devon Health and Safety Service on 01392 382027 if you require any advice.
School Emergency Management Plans
All schools are encouraged to urgently review their School Emergency Management Plan and procedures already in place (e.g. in the event of snow days) to ensure that these are relevant to enable a response to the current situation if this becomes appropriate.
If you would like to check that your school emergency plan is based on the most up to date template, please check your OSHENS website or contact the Devon Health and Safety Service on 01392 382027.
DfE Updated Advice to schools
We are continuing to keep you updated on the government’s response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline
Today, we have launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687 Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.
The importance of hygiene
Personal hygiene is the most important way we can tackle COVID-19. Please help us in sharing simple and effective hand hygiene messages.
Public Health England has a dedicated webpage with a range of posters and digital materials at: https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101-coronavirus-/resources Sign up is quick, free and means you will be alerted as more resources are made available.
New guidance for employers
The Department for Business (BEIS) and Public Health England have issued guidance for employers, which you can find at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-covid-19
Where to find the latest information
Updates on COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Guidance for educational settings: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19
Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus
Head of Education and Learning
Deputy Chief Officer Childrens Services
Devon County Council