School staff don't need protective equipment, new government guidance states

School staff do not require personal protective equipment, new government guidance has stated.

The guidance also warns cleaning items such as soap “may be rationed” as the supply chain dries up, and rules out any future coronavirus testing for all teachers.

A document on ‘implementing social distancing in education settings’, updated this morning, states “scientific advice indicates that educational staff do not require personal protective equipment”.

“This is needed by medical and care professionals providing specific close contact care, or procedures that create airborne risk, such as suctioning and physiotherapy, for anyone who has coronavirus (COVID-19), and is displaying symptoms.”

If you are “not providing this care to someone with the virus, and displaying symptoms, PPE is not needed”, the guidance adds.

It comes despite calls from MPs for school staff to be given “priority access” to such equipment.

However the guidance instead states the advice for schools, colleges and childcare settings is to “follow steps on social distancing, handwashing and other hygiene measures, and cleaning of surfaces”.

This is because, the guidance states, the virus that causes Covid-19 is “mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces.”

However the guidance states some children, including those with special educational needs, “may be unable to follow social distancing guidelines, or require personal care support”.

“In these circumstances, staff need to increase their level of self-protection, such as minimising close contact (where appropriate), cleaning frequently touched surfaces, and carrying out more frequent handwashing.”

The Department for Education said it will “shortly publish additional advice for settings caring for children and young people with complex needs”.

Some cleaning items ‘may be rationed’

The guidance states the Department for Education has been working with public sector buying organisations to “understand and address supply chain issues relating to hygiene and cleaning products for state-funded provision”.

It adds: “At this time, the supply chain has flagged that for some products there are reduced volume deliveries, and less frequent deliveries, which means some items may be rationed.

“They are seeking to find alternatives to any products which are out of stock.”

It states any schools short of cleaning products should contact DfE-CovidEnquiries.COMMERCIAL@education.gov.uk

A recent TeacherTapp survey found over a third of teachers said their school did not have soap and hot water available for pupils.

Testing for all teachers WON’T be rolled-out

The guidance states that testing has been prioritised for those most at risk of severe illness from the virus, those in hospital care for pneumonia or acute respiratory illness “will be the priority”.

It states if a “member of staff becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, in an education setting, they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance”.

The guidance states that “wider testing is being rolled out, and priority lists will be set for this”.

But it adds: “If critical workers, including education and childcare staff, are tested, this will not be for all staff, but rather for staff with symptoms, in order to enable them to go back to work if they test negative.”