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Covid-19: additional considerations
The Covid-19 pandemic has presented schools with a situation that will be continually changing according to infection levels at any given time. Regulations can also change at short notice and school leaders should constantly check their current status. It is important that any changes will need to take note of the school’s established Child Protection Policy.
It has been established that if children and young people contract the virus, although they are unlikely to become seriously ill and often show no symptoms, they can pass the infection to others, including family members and members of the wider community.
For this reason, all English secondary and college students, together with their families and support bubbles have been offered coronavirus rapid lateral flow testing, which they are advised to do twice a week.
From 17th May face coverings in classrooms and communal areas are no longer required, although they must still be worn on public transport or when travelling on dedicated transport to school or college.
The normal rules with respect to social distancing should be followed and masks should be worn by teachers and visitors where social distancing is not possible. Infection rates can also be reduced by ensuring that indoor working spaces are well ventilated.
Additional hygiene measures will also need to be in place.
In view of the ever-changing nature of this pandemic, schools should continually review and adapt their safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures. For example, if teachers find themselves working with unfamiliar pupils, they will need to be informed of any support needs or child protection issues that affect the children in their care. There should also be a contingency plan in case the nominated child protection lead becomes unavailable.
Following months of lockdown and staff should be alert to any child protection concerns that might have arisen. For instance, families might have been having particular problems. These might have involved domestic violence and it is important for all staff to be aware of what to do if they have any concerns about a child’s welfare. This is a good time to remind everyone of the school’s procedures for responding.
Schools are strongly advised to have contingency plans in place in the event of an outbreak in the school, or any changes in the restrictions. Should there be a further outbreak, the school might be faced with a mixture of home and in-school learning and policies will need to be adapted to reflect this. Thought will need to be given as to how to keep in touch with children who will not be seen on a daily basis and ways to ensure that they are safe and well.
If the school should suddenly be closed due to a local lockdown, plans will need to be in place to quickly identify vulnerable children and to ensure that they are provided with appropriate support.
In the event of staff shortages, it may be necessary to recruit new staff or volunteers and it is important to continue to follow safe recruitment practices to ensure suitability of those appointed.
These additional considerations are intended to be complementary to the school’s existing Child Protection Policy.
For further detailed information and advice about Covid-19, see Croner-i’s Covid-19 coronavirus toolkit for schools.
Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Child protection is part of the safeguarding process. It focuses on protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.
Promoting the welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and their families and carers has a role to play. In order to fulfil this responsibility effectively, all professionals should consider at all times what is in the best interests of the child.
No single professional can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances. If children and their families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.
This topic sets out the general safeguarding procedures a school should follow. Advice on addressing some specific issues that increase pupils’ need for protection, including vulnerability to radicalisation, can be found in the Vulnerable Children topic.
Key points you need to know on this topic.
Detailed information on all matters in this topic.