Boris Johnson’s statement at the coronavirus press conference on 03 February 2021 noted that “in the days leading up to our review point in the week of the 15 of February we will be accumulating even more data helped by NHS Test and Trace – so that we can begin to chart a way ahead starting, if the data allow, with the re-opening of schools on March 08”.
The government is putting in place a road map to come out of the latest lockdown. The intention is that they will be setting out as much as they can about that roadmap on February 22. This will give schools the promised two weeks to prepare for the return to school.
There is a lot of speculation regarding what the return to school will look like. The BBC had reported on 27 January that “Sources say the aim is for all schools and year groups in England, in primary and secondary, to return back on that date – rather than it being the starting date of a phased or regional return”. This though was caveated by “Although that could be subject to any changes in local Covid-19 levels”.
On 28 January The Guardian reported “Ministers are drawing up plans to stagger the return of children to classrooms in England from 8 March, with some year groups likely to be back earlier than others”.
Whatever the return to school looks like, the Hayes Parsons advice remains that you continue to follow government guidance and document decision making rationale where risk assessments are reviewed and altered and procedures are changed to reflect the changing guidance or the need to do things differently. Ensure all risk assessments remain robust, both for the normal day to day risks and also the additional coronavirus related ones. This will include risk assessments of course for the lateral flow testing.
As advice changes we continue to be available to discuss with schools and provide assistance in the interpretation of the advice.
From an insurance perspective, having taken reasonable care in carrying out the risk assessments and documenting your procedures along with the rationale for actions you are taking, you will be ensuring that your liability insurance will respond to any legal liability claims. These actions should also mitigate any associated potential reputational damage.