Renfrewshire Council

Coronavirus (COVID-19) health and safety in schools and nurseries

How we maintain health and safety and minimise the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) 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 about:

Enhanced cleaning in school and nurseries

We have an enhanced cleaning regime across all schools and nurseries. 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, such as books and equipment. Children and young people can bring their own resources, such as pencil cases, book, bag or personal device, 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 worktops.

Pick-up and drop-off

We encourage schools and nurseries to manage pick-up and drop-off arrangements so that it minimises crowds gathering at the school gates. Schools and nurseries will inform parents of any special arrangements in place, such as staggering pick-ups, designated queuing systems or areas for parents to wait. 

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

  • wear a face covering if you can
  • only send one adult to drop off or pick up your child
  • avoid large gatherings of people
  • maintain two metres of physical distancing from other adults outside of your household, especially at pick-up and drop-off times
  • not enter the school or nursery building
  • remain outside the playground 
  • park further away from school and nursery 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

Secondary pupils who are asked to come into school will have home to school transport if they are entitled to this. Transport will be provided as normal before and after school. Pupils leaving or arriving during lunchtime will also receive transport.. 

School transport is regarded as an extension of the school property. The national guidance states there is no need for physical distancing between children, however young people will be required to be physically distanced on school transport. All adults and children over the age of five should wear a face covering while on school or public transport. We will update the information here if additional requirements are announced by Scottish Government.

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.

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.

Home testing for staff and senior pupils

Staff in our schools and nurseries and secondary pupils can now access home tests for Covid19, as part of the Scottish Government's national testing programme. You can read more on how the testing works here.

The testing is currently open to staff and secondary pupils who have no symptoms (also known as asymptomatic).

It aims to strengthen the existing measures to reduce the risk of COVID in schools by finding anyone who could be spreading the virus without knowing. It is not mandatory to take part but we strongly recommend people do as it will help protect their loved ones and fellow pupils and staff.

Those who are eligible are being supplied with test kits in school and asked to take a lateral flow test (which returns results in 30 minutes) twice a week at home. They then report their results to the NHS online. Anyone who tests positive is asked to self-isolate.

Face coverings

In secondary schools, pupils and staff should wear a face covering when:

  • moving around the school
  • in communal spaces
  • in classrooms
  • anywhere that physical distancing is difficult to maintain. 

All pupils aged five and older 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. Young people in secondary school are encouraged to keep physically distanced from each other where this is 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 a face covering 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.  

If you're a teacher or school or nursery staff, see the working safely at a school or nursery during coronavirus page

Uniforms, school lunches, school meals and cash payments 

You should wash and clean your child's uniform and other clothes needed for school, such as sportswear or science lab coats, as normal.

School meals will continue to be available. Visit our school meals section for the latest information. 

Cash handling will be kept to a minimum. Most of our schools use the ParentPay system, 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. 

Out of school care, breakfast clubs and informal childcare

Out-of-school care can operate in line with national guidance. You should contact your own out-of-school care provider for details. 

Breakfast clubs can also operate in line with national guidance. You should contact your child's school or community group for details. 

If you have informal childcare arrangements or have extended family providing childcare, you should follow the current coronavirus (COVID-19): stay at home guidance on the website. 

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 family members with health issues

If your child or someone in your family has a health issue and you are concerned about your child attending school, please speak to your child's school as soon as possible. We will work with you and help you feel less anxious about sending your child to school.

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.   

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 that 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 education.  

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 that we can do to support you, but we can only do this based on professional medical advice.