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The Coronavirus - What do schools need to know?

11th February 2020

Coronavirus - What do schools need to know?

Up to date information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms can be found on the gov.uk website.

The Department of Health and Social Care will be publishing updated data on the page linked above on a daily basis at 2pm until further notice.

Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. The risk to individuals remains low.

Key Advice

UK Chief Medical Officers are advising anyone who has travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and is experiencing cough or fever or shortness of breath, to stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.
Travellers to the UK from Wuhan or Hubei Province in the last 14 days, even if they have no symptoms of the virus, should immediately stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, as is usual with the flu, calling NHS 111 to inform them of recent travel to the area

Government guidance states in practice this advice means:

  • Remaining at home for 14 days and not going to work, school or public areas.
  • Avoiding having visitors to your home
  • Not using public transport or taxis until 14 days after your return
  • Where possible, contacting a friend or family member to take your children to school

 

What actions can schools take to support staff though a public health emergency?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) recommends a number of ways employers can take reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of  staff including:

  • Sharing and following public health agency advice on efficient ways to contain the virus
  • Keeping up to date with government advice
  • Considering if remote working is possible in some roles to prevent the spread of infection
  • Reviewing policies and procedures on health reporting, office and personal hygiene
  • Complying with your duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect the health and wellbeing of your staff
  • Promote any other support mechanisms, you have in place, such as employee assistance and well-being programmes

 

Remember that some staff will be particularly vulnerable and will require enhanced support:

  • Check guidance from the NHS on any underlying health conditions that could cause a staff member to become seriously ill with the coronavirus and make relevant provision for these members of staff
  • Conduct a risk assessment if working conditions could involve risk to new or expectant mothers and their babies ensuring any risks are mitigated (where risks cannot be mitigated a staff member could be moved to another role, offered a suitable alterative role or suspended on full pay as a last resort)
  • Avoid any unnecessary travel for pregnant staff as NHS advice indicates that avoidance of travel and crowds reduces the risk of infection
  • If disabled staff are particularly vulnerable to the virus due to the nature of their disability e.g. asthma,  make any reasonable adjustments required, such as the opportunity to work from home

 

 

You can find additional sources of useful information at:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/wuhan-novel-coronavirus/

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-information-for-the-public