DFE Guidance for managing school premises, which are partially open, during COVID-19.
During partial or full closure, educational settings continue to be responsible for a range of health and safety measures and statutory compliance. See DfE Good Estate Management for Schools Health and Safety page - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-estate-management-for-schools/health-and-safety
It is important that arrangements remain in place to ensure that children and staff are in safe buildings during reduced occupancy arrangements. Educational settings should review their arrangements for all building related systems but in particular the following:
▪ Hot and cold water systems
▪ Gas safety
▪ Fire safety
▪ Kitchen equipment
▪ Security including access control and intruder alarm systems
Staff should be familiar with https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures/guidance-for-schools-about-temporarily-closingon gov.uk and work with their responsible bodies to ensure that statutory health and safety arrangements are in place.
There are increased risks related to safety concerns around water hygiene, building and occupancy safety and building hygiene due to reduced occupancy.
Follow the guidance below to manage these risks.
Contact your contractors and suppliers to check on any special interim arrangements in place due to COVID-19.
In all educational settings, a member of staff should be identified with responsibility for managing premises. In cases of staff illness, cover arrangements should be put in place as soon as possible. The key areas for attention are listed below.
Cold water systems - including tanks, sinks/basins/showers and drinking water outlets (taps and water fountains)
• Do not drain down systems.
• Increase frequency of outlet flushing and temperature monitoring to maintain water quality within the entire system. If required, consider additional water quality testing at water outlets (closest and further from the main water source) and drinking water outlets that remain in use.
Domestic hot water services – including calorifiers/direct fired water heaters/ sinks/ basins/ showers
• Do not drain down systems, hot water generation servicing to continue in line with manufacturers’ criteria.
• Water temperatures must be kept within limits recommended for the control of legionella bacteria in water systems. For reference, use the Approved Code of Practice & HSG 274.
• Regularly check hot water generation for functionality and if required, temperature recording.
• If the hot water system has been left operational the hot water should be circulating as normal and regular checks, in line with guidance, should be carried out.
• Do not isolate gas supplies to boilers and hot water generation
• To avoid the risk of leaks and dangerous build-up of gases, isolate gas supplies where not in use, e.g. science labs and prep rooms, design and food technology classrooms, and school kitchens. Otherwise, gas services should remain in normal operation
• Continue planned gas safety checks including gas detection/interlocking
You must review and if necessary, update your fire management plans and ensure any changes to fire escape routes are clearly identified and communicated. During the reduced occupancy period you must:
• Carry out weekly checks of alarms systems, call points, and emergency lighting;
• Carry out regular hazard spotting to identify escape route obstructions;
• Check that all fire doors are operational.
Fire drills should continue to be held as normal.
Equipment that holds water, for example dishwashers and combination ovens, should be run through at least a full cleaning cycle per week, to remove scale build up and standing water build up, to pre-empt possible bacteria growth.
All areas of the school should be kept secure. Access to certain closed areas should only be possible by relevant staff – for example science laboratories, chemical stores and IT rooms. Check that access control and lockdown systems are operational.
• All systems to remain energised in normal operating mode.
• Where mechanical ventilation is present, recirculatory systems should be adjusted to full fresh air. If mechanical ventilation systems cannot be adjusted to full fresh air these should be switched off.
• Where possible, occupied room windows should be open.
• Ventilation to chemical stores should remain operational.
Other points to consider
• Core building-related electrical systems, including internal and external lighting, small power, CCTV, access control and alarm systems (fire, intruder, panic and accessible toilets) to remain in use/energised in normal operating mode.
• For drainage systems, check traps have not dried out and ensure water seals are in place to prevent smells within the building e.g. hygiene rooms, sports hall showers etc.
• Update your keyholder information. Intruder alarm / lift/ fire alarm companies often have remote monitoring stations (response centres) – follow advice from these providers.
• Continue with all regular cleaning, enhanced disinfection appropriate for COVID-19, maintenance, testing and statutory compliance activities.
• Continue carrying out thorough examination and testing of lifting and pressure equipment during the coronavirus outbreak following updated HSE guidance: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/work-equipment-coronavirus.htm
Re-opening after a lengthy closure
Before resuming normal operation, commission a water treatment specialist to chlorinate and flush the complete system for all hot and cold-water systems (including drinking water) and certify the water system is safe before the buildings are reoccupied. Allow sufficient time for this activity; approx. 1 week before opening if possible.
Recommission all systems before re-opening, as would normally be done after a long holiday period. This includes gas, heating, water supply, mechanical and electrical systems, and catering equipment.
To ensure fire safety, check:
• All fire doors are operational;
• Fire alarm system and emergency lights operational.
Clean and disinfect all areas and surfaces prior to reopening and if necessary, utilise pest control for insect infestations, particularly in kitchen/food preparation areas. Deep clean the kitchen prior to reopening before food preparation resumes.
More detailed information on maintenance arrangements can be found in Good Estate Management for Schools, in the section on maintenance checks and testing https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-estate-management-for-schools/health-and-safety#maintenancechecksandtesting.
Further guidance is available on Site Security . https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-and-college-security/site-security-guidance