Diocese of Portsmouth

Coronavirus and Schools


Government guidance for educational settings

Our C of E schools continue to care for the children of key workers, and are welcoming back pupils from Years R, 1 and 6, once they are in a position to keep those children safe with appropriate hygiene and social distancing restrictions in place. If you are looking for information about a specific school, do contact that school for details. A list of C of E schools in our diocese can be found here.

If you are from a school, looking for the most up-to-date Department for Education (DfE)/Public Health England advice for education providers, it can be read here.

The DfE coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows: - Phone: 0800 046 8687 - Opening hours: 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 4pm, Saturday and Sunday. If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.

Useful links:

Nurseries in church buildings

Although our church buildings remain closed for public worship, the government has indicated that nurseries and early years providers (those listed on the Early Years Register), which would normally use church premises for their groups are permitted to use churches and church halls from June 1. However, it will be important to ensure that there must be absolute adherence to standard regulations for nurseries on hygiene, social distancing, access and so on.

In considering whether and on what basis to reopen the nurseries in your church buildings, our diocese is offering the following guidance as a model for you to adopt. The final point makes it clear that permitting the nursery to use the building now may later restrict use of the church premises by a congregation, but that would be your parish decision to take in the light of your local circumstances and the physical layout of your church buildings.

  1. If the nursery provider has a contract in place with the PCC, it will be for them as a business to consider and take responsibility for how best to make the provision in a way which is safe for their employees and those under their care. The key guidance to follow is: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/opening-schools-for-more-children-and-young-people-initial-planning-framework-for-schools-in-england
  2. The guidance notes the need to establish controlled spaces and minimise contact around certain arrival points. This may be relevant to the local context and will want to be fully considered. In addition to this, the building must be cleaned in line with guidance set out here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings
  3. The PCC will want to satisfy itself that the nursery provider is acting in accordance with this and agree who is responsible for cleaning to the standard set out. This should be clearly agreed and documented. Discussions on cleaning will be very pertinent if the nursery is taking place in a space which is hard to clean (for example in the church itself).
  4. Does making the decision have any impact on any other area? If so are those consequences fully understood? (eg. if one group is using the building, does that limit another group/activity – and has this been considered?)
  5. Can the space for the nursery be effectively reserved to those staff and children? The guidance makes clear that the space should not be shared or create situations in which the virus could be transmitted outside the nursery group. Would a decision to let the nursery meet limit/inhibit any other activity that could or is taking place? For example, foodbanks or other activity in church that may be allowed shortly. The PCC should consider its priority as to how they wish the church building in question to be used.

If you are in any doubt, please talk to your Archdeacon.

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