Renfrewshire Council

Last reviewed: 5.30pm, Monday 23 November

Coronavirus health and safety in schools and nurseries

How we maintain health and safety and minimise the risk of coronavirus in our schools and nurseries.

Our single biggest priority is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of all pupils and staff. 

We have put a lot of new measures in place to keep our pupils and staff safe and help minimise the risk of coronavirus by following the national guidance on coronavirus health and safety in schools and nurseries.

At the same time, we want to make sure the learning environment feels normal and welcoming for our pupils.

The coronavirus situation and guidance are constantly evolving so check these pages regularly for the most up-to-date information.

Enhanced cleaning in school and nursery buildings

We have an enhanced cleaning regime across all schools and nurseries. We have hired 100 new cleaners across Renfrewshire to help us do this. 

Our staff clean all schools and nurseries either at the end of the day or first thing in the morning before children arrive. They wipe clean surfaces throughout the day, with materials provided to do this, in line with the national guidance.

Schools and nurseries are minimising the sharing of learning resources. Children and young people can bring their own resources, such as pencil cases, to school for their own use only. Schools and nurseries will remind children and young people to keep their school bags on the floor and not on desks or worktop.

Pick-up and drop-off

We encourage schools and nurseries to manage pick-up and drop-off arrangements, so it minimises crowds gathering at the school gates. If any special arrangements are in place, your school or nursery will make tell you about these directly.

Parents and carers have a key role to play here. You should:

  • maintain two metres of physical distancing from other adults outside of your household, especially at pick-up and drop-off times
  • avoid large gatherings of people
  • wear a face covering if you can
  • not enter the school or nursery building
  • remain outside the playground 
  • park further away from school and nurseries and then walk with your children to avoid congestion. 

If your child has additional support needs and you normally drop them off at the building, speak to the school or nursery, as arrangements will be put in place to support your child.

We encourage pupils, parents, carers and staff to use active ways to travel to school wherever it is possible and safe to do so. Walking and cycling, scooting and wheeling are strongly encouraged where possible.

School transport

School transport is being provided as normal and is regarded as an extension of the school or nursery property. The national guidance states there is no need for physical distancing between children and young people. However, all adults and children over the age of five should wear a face covering.

Children and young people should wash their hands 

  • before boarding the bus in the morning
  • when they arrive at or leave school
  • when they arrive back home. 

You should remind your child of the importance of general safety on school transport, such as always wearing a seatbelt. They should also not consume food and drinks onboard either.

Our transport operators have a process for cleaning school buses each day. Frequently touched surfaces are cleaned after each journey.

If a pupil is travelling on public transport, they should follow the national guidance by 

  • wearing face coverings
  • maintaining physical distancing from others. 

Pupils who travel to school by dedicated school taxi, do not need to physically distance but they should sit in the back seat if possible and wear a face covering.

Face coverings

The Scottish Government has updated its guidance for the use of face coverings in schools and nurseries. From Monday 2 November, all pupils in senior years S4-6 will be required to wear face coverings in class, as well as when moving around the school. There will be limited exceptions to this. This is an additional measure as Renfrewshire is now in Level 3 Protective Measures from Monday 2 November.

This is in addition to existing guidance that all staff and secondary school pupils should wear face coverings while moving round any places where physical distancing will be difficult, such as corridors, unless seated in a canteen or in a classroom.

Children aged five and over should wear a face covering while travelling on school transport.

Pupils should bring their own face covering but if they don't have one, schools will provide a disposable one. No child will be penalised for not having a face covering. If pupils leave the school at lunchtime, they should follow physical distancing guidance and wear face coverings in any shops, homes or premises they visit. 

Any pupils who cannot wear face coverings due to breathing difficulties, certain disabilities or complex additional support needs are exempt from these rules.  

Pupils will be reminded there are exemptions and all children should be treated equally and with respect

Hand washing

Make sure your child washes their hands before they leave each morning, and again when they arrive back home. When pupils come into school, they will wash their hands before they settle into their classroom or learning space. Schools and nurseries encourage hand washing throughout the day too. 

Pupils are also advised to:

  • wash their hands before and after eating
  • wash their hands when going to the toilet
  • use an elbow or tissue to cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and dispose of any tissues immediately.

Hand sanitiser will be available in secondary schools, where not all classrooms have sinks. However, pupils can also bring their own hand sanitiser if they want to. 

Physical distancing and crowded places

In line with government guidance, children in nurseries and schools do not have to maintain physically distance with other children. However, schools have measures in place to encourage young people, especially those in S4, S5 and S6 to physically distance where possible.

There will be physical distancing between adults, and where possible between adults and pupils - although this is harder to manage in nurseries and with younger primary pupils. 

Where staff cannot keep a two-metre distance and are interacting face-to-face for 15 minutes or more with a pupil, they can wear face coverings, which will be provided for them.

In order to minimise chances for the virus to spread, there will be no large gatherings such as assemblies or choirs. Schools and nurseries are making sure there is appropriate ventilation in buildings. 

Secondary schools are trying to limit the movement of groups of young people around their school. However, the nature of curriculums and timetables means there does need to be some movement between lessons and activities. 
Schools and nurseries are encouraged to be creative with how they can use all available spaces for learning, including outdoor spaces, if the weather is suitable.  

While Level 4 measures are in place in Renfrewshire, P.E. will continue to be taught, however it can only take place outdoors. Schools will consider the activities and clothing best suited to the weather conditions and will contact parents and carers directly with further details. In the case of extremely bad weather, schools may decide to provide an alternative activity instead

School lunches, school meals, cash payments and uniforms

We are providing hot meals for 

  • all children who are entitled to a free school meal
  • any child who wants to buy their lunch at school.

It is up to each school, not the council, to make decisions around school uniform rules and they will communicate these with parents directly. You should wash and clean your child's uniform and other clothes needed for school, such as sportswear or science lab coats, as normal. 

Most of our schools use the ParentPay system so there may not be cash handling your child's school or nursery. ParentPay is a secure online payment system for school meals, trips, events and activities.

If your child's school is not using ParentPay yet, the school will send you a weekly invoice each Friday for any meals ordered. This is a temporary payment method until ParentPay is available at that school. 

ParentPay will be available soon in these schools:

  • Brediland Primary School
  • East Fulton Primary School
  • Heriot Primary School
  • Langcraigs Primary School
  • Our Lady of Peace Primary School
  • St Anthony's Primary School
  • St Margaret's Primary School
  • St Peter's Primary School
  • St Paul's Primary School.

Out of school care and breakfast clubs

While Level 4 measures are in place for Renfrewshire, non-essential activities and clubs will not take place in school buildings. Regulated out of school care will be able to continue, as will supported study for senior high school pupils.

Once Renfrewshire is out of Level 4, we anticipate that out-of-school care will be available again in all places where it was provided before lockdown. You should contact your own out-of-school provider for details. 

Similarly, some breakfast clubs have restarted. However, they are more challenging to organise because of the broad range of ways they operate. We are supporting schools and community groups to get the rest up and running again as soon as possible. 

Your child's school will tell you directly what arrangements they have for breakfast clubs at the school.

Pupils with additional support needs (ASN) 

Safety measures are in place to protect pupils and staff wherever staff need to be in close proximity with pupils with additional support needs. Staff will wear a face covering or personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate, and regularly wash their hands before and after contact. We carefully considered the necessary cleaning regimes for specialist equipment and additional spaces, such as sensory rooms, to make sure they are safe to use. 

Pupils and families with health issues

While Level 4 measures are in place, it is recommended that children and young people on the "shielding list" should not attend nursery or school without a risk assessment informed by the clinical team caring for them.

Pupils who are shielding will learn remotely at home and our schools and nurseries will be there to support them. The Chief Medical Officer will also write out to everyone in the shielding category with further advice.

If your child is in the shielding category, please get in touch with your child's nursery or school so we can support you and provide details of the arrangements for the next few weeks.

If you are unsure if your child is in the shielding category, please speak to your medical consultant or GP for advice. 

For the vast majority of children and young people, nursery and school will continue as is. 

This can be a worrying time for those with existing medical conditions. We can assure you the safety of our pupils, staff and their families is our biggest priority and we are following all the national advice to safeguard that. 
Current national guidance says any pupils or staff who were shielding are now safe to return to school or nursery and should follow the same advice as everyone else. 

If your child or someone in your household has a health condition which is causing you concern, please speak to your doctor for advice and then to your school to see how they can support you and your child. 

School attendance

We expect you to send your child to nursery or school as normal and we need to monitor and report non-attendance to the relevant authorities.   

However, if you are anxious about your child being at school during the coronavirus pandemic or if you have an issue with attendance, we will support you.

If you have a health concern about your child or yourself, we advise you speak to your doctor for advice and then to your school to see what could be done to support you. 

Home schooling

As a parents or carer, you have a legal duty to make sure your child gets an education. This can be done in school or through home learning.  

If you want to educate your child at home, you will need the council's permission to withdraw your child from school. More information on home schooling is available on our Home education page.

However, if you are considering home schooling because of a medical concern, please speak to your doctor first for their advice. We will consider if there is anything we can do to support you, but we can only do this on the basis of professional medical advice.