Consider holding proms outdoors, DfE tells schools after ‘Freedom Day’ delay

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The Department for Education has told schools sports day events can still go ahead – but open days and indoor prom events are “unlikely to be feasible” following the “Freedom Day” delay.

Prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday most coronavirus rules will stay in place for at least another four weeks – pushing the planned June 21 unlocking to July 19.

The DfE has told school leaders, in an email seen by Schools Week, that “settings should encourage staff, and students, where applicable, to continue to test twice weekly and student bubbles, where they exist, should stay in place”.

It sets out the government’s position on common activities schools may have questions on, and advises schools continue “to risk assess and plan activities in line with the system of controls”.

summer schoolsSports days can go ahead …

The DfE say that sports day events can go ahead but “pupils and students must remain in their bubbles, and early years children should remain in their consistent groups as is usual for your setting.”

The government say sports equipment should be cleaned regularly throughout the day and “spectators must adhere to current social distancing requirements”.

Spectators can gather in separate groups of up to 30. Multiple groups are permitted.

… but not good news for open days and proms

School leaders were told they should “avoid hosting large group gatherings indoors for more than one bubble” such as assemblies, but outdoor events are “generally lower risk”.

The DfE states schools “may consider” an outdoor event for leavers’ celebrations or prom that caters for more than one bubble “as long as the groups continue to be kept separate”.

Again, groups are bound by the legal gathering limit of 30.

sports dayThe DfE advises schools “complete thorough risk assessments before running transitional, taster and open days in your setting” but admits “traditional” open days “days are unlikely to be feasible this academic year”.

“We are keen not to restrict individual settings from designing events which maintain the integrity of bubbles or consistent groups, and adhere to the system of controls in place”, the guidance adds.

Schools exempt from singing limit

Finally, the DfE told schools planning indoor or outdoor live performances in front of an audience should follow the latest performing arts guidance.

This includes providing clear social distancing guidance and ensuring the event complies with measures such as capacity caps.

Indoor events can take place for up to whichever is lower between 1,000 people or 50% of the site’s capacity.

However schools and colleges are exempt from the requirement to limit group numbers to six for singing indoors.

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