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School reopening: FAQs on staffing
Your school can reopen for some pupils in June. Find out how this will affect your staff, including who you'll need in school and what measures you'll need to put in place for them.
Which staff need to be in school?
You should keep the number of staff in school at the absolute minimum. If staff can work from home, they should.
Identify what key roles you need in school every day, such as:
- A member of your senior leadership team (SLT)
- Enough teachers and/or teaching assistants (TAs) to lead all the pupil groups you have in school (see below)
- A first aider (note – if you have children aged between 2 and 5 on site, you need to take all possible steps to make sure you have a paediatric first aider present)
- A designated safeguarding lead (or deputy DSL) who's available to come into school. Staff could contact them via phone or internet (e.g. Skype) – the main thing is that they're available if needed (see page 95 here)
- A special educational needs co-ordinator (or deputy SENCO) if pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans are returning
- Cleaning staff – enough to do a regular clean of the parts of the school you'll be using
- Catering staff – enough to serve meals for all the pupils in school, and potentially put together meals for pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) who aren't in school
- Office staff – if you need to someone to work at reception, for example
Identify how many teachers and/or TAs you need for the number of pupils you'll have
- EYFS children - ideally a maximum of 8 children per group, but definitely no more than 16 children in a group, following the normal EYFS staffing ratios (although qualification requirements have been relaxed, as we explain here)
- Primary pupils – you should have one teacher for each group of no more than 15 pupils and, if needed, a TA
- Secondary pupils – you should split larger classes in half and have 1 teacher for each group of pupils (although you may need to swap around teachers for subject specialist support)
- If you have children with EHC plans that set out required ratios, you only need to use 'reasonable endeavours' to keep these up (see here)
If you don't have enough teachers to run these groups, read our other article to find out what to do.
Make sure you're also considering who will supervise these groups during breaks. This should ideally be one member of staff for each group, such as a TA, but you may need to have staff supervise multiple groups at a distance.
Which staff shouldn't come into school?
You shouldn't ask all staff to attend, regardless of their role.
According to DfE guidance, staff shouldn't attend school if:
- They're clinically extremely vulnerable (as defined here)
- They're experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, or living with anyone experiencing symptoms – you can ask them to get tested (see the section below)
Staff should work from home wherever possible if:
- They're clinically vulnerable (as defined here). If they can't work from home, you should give them the safest available on-site roles that allows them to stay 2 metres away from others wherever possible
- They live with someone who's clinically extremely vulnerable – they should only come to school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to
If a staff member lives with someone who's clinically vulnerable (as opposed to clinically extremely vulnerable), they can come to school.
This is according to DfE guidance.
If you can, you might also want to avoid asking staff to attend if:
- They have sole caring responsibilities – teachers and support staff are critical workers so could send their kids to school even if they're not in an eligible year group, but some staff will want to avoid doing this
- They need to take public transport to get in, particularly if they would need to travel at peak times. You could also allow these workers to adapt their hours so they can avoid rush hour
Make sure you're also engaging with your union representatives and other members of staff about who you should ask to come back in.
Do we need to provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE)?
The DfE has said the majority of staff don't require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, such as if they conduct intimate care.
It doesn't recommend wearing face coverings or face masks in schools.
The exception is if a child becomes unwell with coronavirus symptoms at school and needs direct personal care until they can go home:
- The supervising staff member should wear a face mask if they can't keep 2 metres away from the pupil
- If the staff member can't avoid contact with the child, they should wear:
- Disposable gloves
- A disposable apron
- A fluid-resistant surgical face mask
- Eye protection (if there's a risk of coughing, spitting or vomiting)
Unions may have a different perspective on wearing PPE though, so we're keeping an eye out for any guidance from them.
Use your local supply chains to obtain PPE. If this isn't possible and you urgently need it to operate safely, approach your local resilience forum.
Can staff get tested if they have symptoms?
Anyone involved in education is considered an essential worker, and so they can get tested if they need to self-isolate due to:
- Displaying symptoms
- Living with someone who has symptoms
What if we don't have enough staff?
Discuss options with your local authority or trust – they might be able to provide a suitable person to temporarily cover positions like first aider, cleaning staff or office worker.
If you don't have enough teachers, read our other article to find out what to do.
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Evidence-led training courses that make it easy to upskill staff, anytime, anywhere.
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