COVID-19 Public Health - safer working in education

COVID-19 Public Health - safer working in education

Schools coronavirus (Covid-19) operational guidance

This guidance explains the actions school leaders should take to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in their schools. This includes public health advice, endorsed by Public Health England (PHE).


All pupils should now be attending school.

We ask that schools:

  • Review and where necessary, update your risk assessment
  • Make sure you are following the system of controls to minimise the risk of infection, including engaging with the asymptomatic testing programme
  • Have a contingency plan in place for outbreaks in your school or changes in restrictions
  • Communicate any changes in your processes to parents

Much of the content in this guidance will be familiar to you, as it has been in place for some time.

Most recently, we have made specific changes to the information on:

We have added a section on transitional, taster and open days, and also annex B which is guidance on year 11 to 13 exam cohort attendance and provision for the 2021 summer term.

Government Guidance on  Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - GOV.UK (

Useful Guidance Documents

The DfE has worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to develop this guidance. Based on the recent ONS data, the risks to education staff are similar to those for most other occupations.    

Public Health south-east guidance

PHE South East Education Settings Working Group have produced a COVID-19 resource pack PDF, 635KB which includes FAQs , infection , prevention and control principles, local and national contact details , letter templates and key messages.

A Public Health FAQ has been put together by a working group of representatives across the South East region from Local Authority departments of Public health and Education, Department for Education and Public Health England.

It's not intended to replace or simplify national guidance, but to add colour to less straightforward scenarios that settings face on a day-to-day basis.

This document is intended to supplement a setting’s risk assessment and does not overrule any decisions that a head or local authority have already made. It simply aims to help explain risks in an infection control context. Educational settings should not feel that they have to change practice in light of these FAQs and should follow their own judgement.

Public Health England South East -Thames Valley Health Protection Team, have also issued this flowchart on Guidance for Childcare and Educational Settings in the Management of COVID-19.

Using the NHS COVID-19 app in schools and further education colleges

The government has released guidance on how teachers and students should use the NHS Covid-19 app to help prevent the spread of the disease.  Please see DfE Guidance | Use of the NHS COVID-19 app in schools and FE colleges for the full guidance and actions.

Communications support for Schools and Colleges on COVID-19 Variants of Concern Testing

This pack is a resource to schools and colleges in their communications about a targeted case finding within their settings, following the initial notification of Variant of Concern cases in their area.

Communications Support for Schools and Colleges on Covid-19 (print version)

Summary of the guidance

The app, which is available to download only be used by those aged 16 and over if they choose to do so, is designed to complement the existing Test and Trace system, not replace it.

The app has six key features:

  • Trace – alerts the individual if they were in close contact with a confirmed case.
  • Alert – provides the individual with the risk level associated with the coronavirus in their local area, based on the postcode district they enter.
  • Check in – allows the individual to check in to locations via the app and official NHS QR codes.
  • Symptoms – allows the individual to check symptoms against government guidance and to get advice.
  • Test – allows the individual to order a free test and to receive results and advice via the app.
  • Isolate – provides an isolation "companion", which counts down how many days they have left to isolate.

If an individual with the app tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), the app will ask them to allow those that they have been in contact with to be alerted. If so, the app will then alert relevant individuals if they have been in close contact with a positive case. ‘Close contact’ is based on an algorithm, but generally means you’ve been within 2 metres of someone for 15 minutes or more. Individuals are not informed who the positive case is.

Bluetooth needs to be enabled on the phone as the app uses Bluetooth low energy to anonymously assess the distance, over time, between people who have downloaded it. It is possible to pause the app's "trace" function, which means the phone and Bluetooth remain on but contacts are not recorded.  This is only appropriate in three situations, according to the DfE:

  • When someone is not able to have their phone with them, for example because it is stored in a locker or communal area – this is to avoid the app picking up contacts when the user is not with their phone.
  • When someone is working behind a Perspex (or equivalent) screen, fully protected from other colleagues and members of the public, as they are considered to be adequately protected from contracting the coronavirus.
  • In a health or care setting where staff are wearing medical-grade personal protective equipment (for example, a surgical mask) as these individuals are also considered to be adequately protected.

Required actions

Leaders should understand how the app relates to their setting’s process for managing a positive case and/or an outbreak.

The agreed process for ensuring a setting is aware of a positive case, as set out in the guidance for full opening for schools and further education colleges in the autumn term, is still in place and is not changed by the introduction of the app.  The app complements, rather than replaces, existing processes.

Leaders should understand how the app’s ‘Trace’ feature relates to their setting’s existing process

The guidance recommends that settings inform all of their students, in particular those who are under 18, to inform a member of staff if they receive a notification during the day that they had been in contact with a positive case. To support this, the notification itself will advise them that if they are under the age of 18, they should show the message to a trusted adult and self-isolate. The staff member should then put in place the setting’s agreed process, including making appropriate arrangements for the student to leave the setting at the earliest opportunity to begin self-isolation.

If a staff member receives this notification, they should also follow the usual process of informing an appropriate person at the setting before self-isolating. Settings will want to consider what action they would need to take if a number of staff members were informed at the same time that they had been in close contact with a positive case, to ensure continuity of education.

No further action is needed unless the student or member of staff goes on to become a confirmed case themselves.

Consider how the app relates to your setting’s mobile phone policies

Whilst the DfE do not require settings to change their mobile phone policies, settings may want to do so if they currently do not allow mobile phones on site, require mobile phones to be switched off during the day or require phones to be left in lockers or similar.

Settings choosing to allow mobile phones to be switched on and with students during the day can still require phones to be on silent and in pockets or bags that are with the student at all times, as the app will work in the background. The guidance contains recommendations for the following scenarios; in schools where phones are allowed to be on, where they are required to be switched off and where they have to be left in lockers.

Communicate with staff about use of the app

Staff need to be aware that students may have the app on their phones and may be informed by the app whilst at school. Staff need to be aware of what to do/who to inform if a student informs them they have received a notification. 

The guidance recommends that the virtual school head is informed regarding a child in care, care leaver or adopted pupil.  Schools may wish to recommend that staff use the app.

Consider communicating with students and parents about the use of the app

Schools might also want to consider how the app features in their behaviour policies, for example making clear how they expect students to use the app in the setting and at what points it is appropriate for them to check their phone for notifications

Consider whether to use the check-in function for any activities or provision in your setting where members of the public take part or make use of premises.

Further information

Further information about the app is available:


Personal Protective Equipment

See government PPE guidance :

The guidance states that PPE is only needed if a child, young person or other learner becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms in school or college, and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained

Guidance on donning and doffing PPE and general principles about usage can be found here: Personal protective equipment (PPE) and Infection Prevention and Control Procedures | Buckinghamshire Council


The government has published 2 new guidance documents to support schools with information around testing: Coronavirus (COVID-19) asymptomatic testing in schools and colleges - GOV.UK ( -  ( 20 Jan 2021) - Information for schools and colleges about how they can start to test pupils and students from January.Added information about updates coming shortly. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) asymptomatic testing for staff in primary schools and nurseries - GOV.UK ( (18 Jan 2021) - Information on rapid asymptomatic coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for staff in primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools.


We recommend that all educational settings follow the Public Health England (PHE) guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children's social care settings.

Where healthcare, and certain personal care support, is delivered within settings (particularly special schools), then additional measures may apply: see PHE guidance.

Settings should clean and disinfect equipment, toys and surfaces more regularly. This includes keyboards, mouse, tables, chairs, door handles, light switches and bannisters.

Changes to the CPR guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak

Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings: Because of the heightened awareness of the possibility that the victim may have COVID-19, Resuscitation Council UK offers this advice: 

  • Recognise cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth. If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives. 
  • Make sure an ambulance is on its way. If COVID 19 is suspected, tell them when you call 999. 
  • If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the victims mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance (or advanced care team) arrives. Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast.
  • Early use of a defibrillator significantly increases the person’s chances of survival and does not increase risk of infection. 
  • If the rescuer has access to any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) this should be worn.
  • After performing compression-only CPR, all rescuers should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water; alcohol-based hand gel is a convenient alternative. They should also seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service or medical adviser. 

Further details are available on St John Ambulance website.  St John's Ambulance also has a poster for CPR which mentioned not rescue breaths.


Temperature checking

Educational settings should reiterate to parents/carers the need to follow the advice on coronavirus (COVID-19), including the whole household entering 14 days of self-isolation if anyone in the household develops a fever or a new, continuous cough. They are advised to follow the staying-at-home guidance.

Parents/carers and schools do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning but should be vigilant about signs of a temperature.

Public Health initiatives

Tooth brushing

The purpose of this guidance is to update the infection prevention control aspects of supervised toothbrushing programmes. It seeks to manage any public health risk arising from the COVID-19 pandemic against the significant oral health improvement benefits of daily supervised toothbrushing.

Covid 19- Guidance-for-supervised-toothbrushing-programmes-in-early-years-and-school-settings

Flu vaccination

This guidance has been produced to assist all school staff and headteachers with any questions about the nasal spray flu vaccination being offered to children in primary schools during the autumn term of 2020.

Flu vaccination in schools

Teachers and school staff

If you are feeling low, worried, or stressed you can access free evidence-based psychological interventions through Buckinghamshire Healthy Minds your local NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service.

Help is available for any education professionals to help them (or the parents they come in contact with) with feelings of depression or anxiety, including managing concerns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.  Access to this effective treatment is easy and fast.

Any adult who needs help can self-refer by:

Professionals working with children and young people

The uncertainties and pressures of the COVID19 pandemic have placed additional challenges on supporting children and their families. CYP professionals can access evidence-based psychological interventions should they, or any carers/parents they work with, require any support with managing the psychological impact of this pressure (or any other common mental health difficulty).

If you are feeling low, worried, or stressed you can access free evidence-based psychological interventions through Buckinghamshire Healthy Minds your local NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service. Access to this effective treatment is easy and fast.

Any adult who needs help can self-refer by:


Public Health England operates a free health resource called e-Bug, consisting of lesson plans, worksheets, and multimedia for educators and students from ages 4 to 18. e-Bug, which is an evidence-based resource, primarily educates students on infection prevention and control and covers a range of topics including:

  • antibiotics
  • vaccinations
  • microbes
  • hygiene

e-Bug – Information about the Coronavirus

Please know that this page is under review and that we always aim to provide you with the latest guidance. 

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