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.

The Scottish Government have advised that they will review the national guidance for schools and nurseries after the first six weeks of the new term. 

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 continue to 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 continuing to minimise the sharing of learning resources, such as books and equipment. Children and young people can bring their own resources, such as pencil cases, books, 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. This may include staggering pick-ups and designated queuing systems or areas for parents to wait. The arrangements in place prior to the summer break will continue unless you were advised that this will change by your child's school. 

As a parent or carer, you are asked to follow the national guidance. See the coronavirus (COVID-19) advice on staying safe and protecting others on the Scottish Government website.

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. If you need to drive to school, we encourage you to park further away and then walk with your child to avoid congestion.

Restrictions on school visitors will remain in place, except for some parents and carers of children starting primary who will be permitted to support transition where strictly necessary. 

School 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 and young people of any age. 

All adults and young people aged 12 and older should wear a face covering while on school or public transport. Children and young people aged 11 or younger no longer need to wear a face covering. 

Pupils who travel to school on public transport should follow the national guidance. See the coronavirus (COVID-19) advice on staying safe and protecting others on the Scottish Government website.

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

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.

Pupils who travel to school by dedicated school taxi should sit in the back seat if possible.

Home testing for staff and senior pupils

Secondary school pupils as well as staff in all our schools and nurseries are encouraged to take a lateral flow test at home twice a week. 

How home testing for schools works

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 12 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 young person will be penalised for not having a face covering. 

If pupils leave the school at lunchtime, they should follow the national 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 that all children should be treated equally and with respect.

Hand washing

Make sure your child washes their hands before they leave for school 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 also encourage everyone to wash their hands frequently throughout the day. 

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 large gatherings and specific classes

In line with government guidance, physical distancing of at least one metre will take place between

  • adults and other adults
  • adults and pupils.

Children in nurseries and primary schools do not need to physically distance with other children.

Young people in secondary school are encouraged to keep physically distanced from each other where possible.

Children and young people will no longer be required to stay in groups known as bubbles.

Assemblies and other large gatherings should be avoided for the first six weeks of the new term. 

Drama, music, physical education (PE) and dance can all take place within schools, both indoors and outdoors, as long as good ventilation and enhanced hygiene measures remain in place. 

Schools already have arrangements in place for two metres physical distancing and most schools may continue with this level of physical distancing. 

Adults who are not exempt from the new self-isolation rules must make sure they maintain two metres physical distancing from other adults. This is to reduce the risk that they are identified as a close contact. See the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in schools and nurseries page for more information.

Where staff are interacting face-to-face with a pupil for 15 minutes or more, they can wear a face covering provided for them.

The Scottish Government will review all coronavirus protection measures in schools and nurseries after this time. 

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 ParentPay, 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. 

There are no current restrictions on informal childcare or childcare provided by family members.

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.

There are new guidelines for self-isolation of children and young people under the age of 18. See the latest Test and Protect arrangements for schools and nurseries.

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. Find out more about home education.

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.