Government releases guidance on social distancing for schools

Government releases guidance on social distancing for schools

The government has released guidance to help implement social distancing in education and childcare settings.

From 20th March 2020, schools and nurseries closed for everyone other than children of key workers or vulnerable pupils. The measures were introduced to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On 23rd March, the government introduced stricter social distancing measures and closures of business, stating that people could only leave their home for very limited purposes. School kitchens and canteens were made exempt from these closures; however, they still need to adhere to social distancing rules.

The advice shared by the government sets out to support staff working in schools, focusing on measures they can put in place to help limit risk of spreading the virus within education and childcare settings.

To help ensure that the risk of virus spread for both staff and children is as low as possible, education and childcare settings that remain open should:

  • tell children, parents, carers or any visitors, such as suppliers, not to visit the education or childcare setting if they are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • consider how children arrive at the education or childcare setting and reduce any unnecessary travel on coaches, buses or public transport
  • ensure class sizes reflect the numbers of teaching staff available and are kept as small as possible
  • stagger lunch times, break times and the movement of pupils around the school to reduce large groups of children gathering
  • discourage parents from gathering at school gates
  • try to follow the social distancing guidelines

The guidance recognises that social distancing within education and childcare settings with very young children will be harder to maintain; however, the government is asking staff to implement the above measures as far as they are able.

To help reduce the spread of the virus in school settings, staff are also being reminded to:

  • ensure all staff and children wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently, and are encouraged not to touch their face, while using a tissue or elbow to cough or * sneeze and using bins for tissue waste. If children or young people have trouble washing their hands, ensure help is available
  • inform parents and communities about the measures that you are taking and get their help to implement them
  • increase cleaning of surfaces in classrooms, including desks and handles, and within toilet blocks and changing rooms, adhering to guidance on cleaning of non-healthcare settings
  • for children and young people with an EHC plan, work with the local authority as well as with parents to decide how best to continue supporting these children and young people to stay healthy

The guidance states that the “Department for Education will work with schools, childcare settings and local authorities to ensure that adequate supplies of personal and domestic cleaning products are available to schools. We will issue further detailed guidance for settings regarding the supply of Personal Protective Equipment to settings that require it”.
For more information please visit