Covid FAQs and Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions, information and guidance for parents and educational settings in relation to Covid-19.

Frequently Asked Questions for Children and Young People

Transport FAQs

Home to School Transport FAQs – Pupils and FE students
Last updated: 14 April 2021

Is home to school transport operating?

Yes, home to school transport services are operating as normal.  Pupils who use Translink services should check their schedule before travelling.  The last day of service for this school year will be 30th June 2021 and services will recommence on 1st September 2021.  Schools who have chosen to open in August should make parents aware that school transport will not be operating.

Post primary pupils must wear a face covering on all transport (exemptions apply).

What should I do to keep safe on school transport?

 

DO

  • Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer when you get on board.
  • Wear a face covering on all school transport, regardless of age, when you can.
  • Catch It, Bin It, Kill it!
  • Fill seats from the back and sit apart if possible.
  • If you can’t, sit with a brother/sister or someone from your class, year or school.
  • Try to sit in the same seat each day.
  • Give other passengers space when queuing, and getting on and off the vehicle

DO NOT

  • Travel if you are have symptoms of COVID-19, have a confirmed diagnosis or have been advised to isolate.
  • Share phones or other personal items with others.
  • Eat or drink on board (unless for medical purposes).
  • Approach the driver.
  • Leave litter on board.

Do I have to socially distance on school transport?

It depends on the type of transport you use:

  1. EA yellow bus, a bus/taxi hired by the EA, or a Translink ‘School’ service - social distancing is encouraged but not required.   
  2. Translink public bus and rail services – social distancing is required.

Will I travel in my school or college bubble?

It’s unlikely you’ll travel in the same bubble that you’re in at school or college, so try to sit with your brother/sister or other class mates. 

Will my escort travel with me?

Yes, your escort will still travel with you. Escorts may be wearing a mask or face visor so that you both stay safe if they need to come close and give you some help.  

Do I have to wear a face covering on school transport?

All pupils regardless of age are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering on all school transport if they can do so. Wearing a face covering is mandatory for post primary pupils on all forms of school transport. Exemptions apply for medical reasons and also for those pupils with special education needs or sensory difficulties.

Schools have been provided with a pack of face masks for their pupils who receive home to school transport assistance and are asked to promote the use of face coverings on all school transport. 

How often will my bus or taxi be cleaned?

Buses and taxis will be cleaned every day. Common touch points such as seat belt buckles and grab rails will also be cleaned regularly throughout the day.

Will there be spot checks to see if pupils are wearing face coverings on school transport?

Post primary pupils must wear a face covering (exemptions apply) and we strongly encourage younger pupils to wear them too.  After Easter there will be spot checks on school transport services to monitor compliance.  These spot checks will be unannounced and will take place at school, in transport stations and mid-journey.  We will never ask an unaccompanied pupil to disembark a vehicle if they are not wearing a face covering, however we will speak to pupils to remind them of the regulations, distribute face coverings to pupils who do not have one,  and if we observe problems with compliance we may contact schools to seek their assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Families

Transport FAQs

Home to School Transport FAQs – Parents
Last updated: 4 May 2021

Is home to school transport operating?

Yes, home to school transport services are operating as normal.  Pupils who use Translink services should check their schedule before travelling.  The last day of service for this school year will be 30th June 2021 and services will recommence on 1st September 2021.  Schools who have chosen to open in August should make parents aware that school transport will not be operating.

Post primary pupils must wear a face covering on all transport (exemptions apply).

 

My child is not normally entitled to transport assistance, but I am a key worker/they are a vulnerable child – can I have transport?

Home to school transport is only available at this time to pupils who are entitled to transport assistance.

Are pupils required to wear face coverings on school transport?

Wearing a face covering is mandatory for post primary pupils on all forms of school transport. Younger pupils are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering on all school transport if they can do so. Exemptions apply for medical reasons and also for those pupils with special education needs or sensory difficulties.

Schools have been provided with a pack of face masks for their pupils who receive home to school transport assistance and are asked to promote the use of face coverings on all school transport. 

What should pupils and students do to keep safe on school transport?

DO

  • Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer when you get on board.
  • Wear a face covering on all school transport, regardless of age, when you can.
  • Catch It, Bin It, Kill it!
  • Fill seats from the back and sit apart if possible.
  • If you can’t, sit with a brother/sister or someone from your class, year or school.
  • Try to sit in the same seat each day.
  • Give other passengers their space when queuing, and getting on and off the vehicle


DO NOT

  • Travel if you are have symptoms of COVID-19, have a confirmed diagnosis or have been advised to isolate.
  • Share phones or other personal items with others.
  • Eat or drink on board (unless for medical purposes).
  • Approach the driver.
  • Leave litter on board.

We understand some of these may not be possible, but if a passenger is putting anyone’s safety at risk during this time we retain the right to withdraw transport assistance.

Is social distancing required on school transport?

It depends on the type of transport you use:

  1. Dedicated school transport e.g. EA yellow bus, a bus/taxi hired by the EA, or a Translink ‘School’ service -  social distancing is encouraged but not required.   
  2. Public transport e.g. Translink public bus and rail services – Social distancing is required on public transport.

Will pupils travel in their school or college bubble?

The Department of Education advise that there may be mixing of wider groups on home to school transport.  As such the Education Authority is not able to provide individual or additional bus/taxi services for pupils on the grounds of children travelling alongside pupils from other classes/schools unless we are advised of specific medical needs for children who are immunosuppressed.

Will escorts travel with pupils?

Yes, escorts will still travel with pupils if it is required. They will try to give pupils as much distance as possible but their role will mean they will be in close contact. 

To protect them both they will be wearing PPE which could include a mask and face shield.  Parents should prepare their child for this.

Do drivers/escorts have to wear a face covering on school transport?

EA drivers and escorts have been provided with a face covering and other PPE.  However there will continue to be exemptions for certain individuals and, though still encouraged, drivers don’t have to wear a face covering if they have a screen installed. 

Similar guidance and assistance has been provided to private bus and taxi operators, however it is the Operator’s responsibility to make sure their drivers and escorts are supplied with and use appropriate PPE.

How often are vehicles cleaned?

EA, Translink and private operators’ vehicles will be cleaned daily. Common touch points such as seat belt buckles, grab rails, handles will be cleaned regularly throughout the day.

My school has contacted me to say my child is a close contact of a confirmed case. Can school transport bring my child home?

No.  If your child has been identified as a close contact, and therefore advised to isolate, they cannot use school transport. 

Can transport accommodate a change to a school’s opening or closing time?

We will work closely with schools however it might not always be possible to change our service times.  If this is the case schools should make parents aware of this if they proceed with changed times.   

Are there specific arrangements for pupils who are immunosuppressed?

There are a very small number of children who, due to being immunosuppressed, may require alternative transport arrangements during Covid-19.

In these circumstances information would be required from a paediatrician and parents should be advised to contact their local transport office.

Will there be spot checks to see if pupils are wearing face coverings on school transport?

Post primary pupils must wear a face covering (exemptions apply) and we strongly encourage younger pupils to wear them too.  After Easter there will be spot checks on school transport services to monitor compliance.  These spot checks will be unannounced and will take place at school, in transport stations and mid-journey.  We will never ask an unaccompanied pupil to disembark a vehicle if they are not wearing a face covering, however we will speak to pupils to remind them of the regulations, distribute face coverings to pupils who do not have one,  and if we observe problems with compliance we may contact schools to seek their assistance.

Free School Meals/Uniform Grants FAQs

Attendance FAQs

Should extremely clinically vulnerable young people attend school?

Prior to 31st July 2020, children and adults identified as “clinically extremely vulnerable” were previously advised to shield in accordance with guidance from the Public Health Agency. Shielding was paused for all adults and children in Northern Ireland from the 1st August 2020. This means that children and young people can return to school or college even if they: 

  • are clinically extremely vulnerable and were on the shielded patient list; or
  • have family members who are clinically extremely vulnerable who were previously shielding. 

The Department of Education issued Circular 2020/08 – Attendance Guidance & Absence Recording By Schools (“the Circular”) to provide guidance as to how attendance at school or participation in education whilst at home should be recorded.

The Circular may be found here - Attendance Guidance & Absence Recording By Schools Circular


The Circular states that Code 8 may be used where “a pupil chooses not to attend school or parent chooses not to send their child to school on the advice of a medical professional as the child is self-isolating due to a significant underlying medical condition.  In such cases, medical evidence is required by the school to authenticate circumstances.”

 Schools must complete risk assessments for those extremely clinically vulnerable young people who attend school.  If a Risk Assessment determines that a child cannot be educated in school, a plan will be developed by the school- in conjunction with the family and pupil to ensure that education is provided.

If a young person lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable, can they attend school?

Yes they can.  In accordance with the Circular, the explanation for the use of Code 8 states that:-

“Only in extreme circumstances and on the advice of a medical professional should this code be used where the parent has a significant underlying medical condition which would warrant the child having to learn from home.”

It is also possible that the same provision would apply if another family member living in the same household has such a similar medical condition.

My child did not attend school for health reasons prior to COVID-19? Should they return to school or remain under their current plan?

A small number of young people will be advised by their clinical team not to attend school. These children will receive individual advice from the medical professionals with responsibility for their care and appropriate education plans will be put in place with the school and Education Authority, as is appropriate. 

How is attendance recorded during COVID-19 for absences as a result of the pandemic?

Specific guidance in respect of pupil attendance whether at school or at home is set out in the Circular.

Decisions regarding the recording of pupil attendance will be a matter for schools to determine having regard to the Circular, Government/PHA/DE guidance and the individual circumstances of each child. If evidence cannot be provided in terms of either the specific medical condition or that learning is being completed then school should record attendance as an unauthorised absence (Codes D, H or N) where appropriate. 

The Circular suggests that registration of pupils working from home should happen once a day (rather than twice a day) for example provided that work was being completed as required. It is appreciated that for some schools, this may be very challenging therefore schools may have to rely on a combination of their professional judgement and pupil’s work on whether or not pupils have engaged with learning at home. 

Circular 2020/08 – Attendance Guidance & Absence Recording By Schools

What does an Education Welfare Officer do?

The Education Welfare Officer (“EWO”) carries out a number of roles relating to promoting attendance including: 

  • Responding to referrals from school and other agencies 
  • Assessment of the situation and establish a support plan with the young person, parent and school acting on a parent’s request to talk to the young person’s school or other agencies on their behalf
  • Referrals to other support services e.g. Medical officer, Intercultural Education Support Services, Looked After Children, Behaviour Support
  • Signposting families about other specialist support projects in the area e.g. Parent or Pupil Support Groups. 

If there is no improvement in attendance or engagement with remote learning, the EWO will give consideration to: 

  • holding a Family Consultation Meeting; 
  • convening a School Attendance Panel Meeting;
  • convening an Education Planning Meeting, involving Social Services and other agencies.

If the situation does not improve then consideration may be given as to whether an application should be made to the court for an Education Supervision Order or to proceed by way of parental prosecution.

The school will keep a parent informed if there are concerns about a pupil’s attendance. They will advise a parent/carer when they make a referral to the Education Welfare Service.

The school will work in partnership with the parent/carer, the EWO and any other agencies involved with a family to support the young person to attend school. 

Regardless of social distancing, blended learning, and COVID – 19, there are certain conventions and principles that the Education Welfare Service commits to work under – the principles of the Children (NI) Order 1995, the Human Rights Act 1998 and the conventions of the United Nations Convention of the Right of the Child. These include: 

  • The welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in all matters;
  • The child’s voice should be heard and taken into account in all matters relating to the child; and
  • The child has a right to free and compulsory education. 

Will I be prosecuted if I keep my child/children home for COVID-19 reasons? (immuno-compromised etc.)

Under the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, schools are required to consult with The Education Welfare Service with regard to children who have missed in excessive days with no medical concern identified. The Education Welfare Service will then take into account, on a case by case basis, the individual circumstances for pupils and will work with schools, students and their parents to support them as required.

What happens if a teacher/student falls ill with COVID-19, must the whole class isolate?

This will be determined on a case by case basis following advice from the NI Public Health Agency. Close contacts are people who have been close to a confirmed case from 2 days before the person was symptomatic to 10 days after the onset of symptoms and - 

  • Live in the same household; or 
  • Have travelled in a car with the case; or
  • Have been within 2 metres of a case for more than 15 minutes; or 
  • Have been within 1 metre of a case and had face-to-face contact such as being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation or having skin-to-skin physical contact such as shaking hands. 

Close contacts will be identified and will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days and may decide to request a COVID-19 test. The Public Health Agency will advise on the next course of actions once a test result is available. 

I received a Summons from Court before the lockdown, what happens now? Am I to be prosecuted?

Your child’s school will be aware of the Summons and will ensure the Roll is marked accurately. A Summons does not automatically result in prosecution and you should talk to the EWO.  If there are ongoing Court related matters the Education Welfare Service will keep parents informed as to court directions and outcomes.  If you receive a summons it is recommended that you seek independent legal advice regarding the matter.

Our area is under COVID-19 restrictions, but my child attends school in a different area, can they still go to school?

According to current Public Health Agency guidance, people living in an area under localised restrictions are allowed to travel outside that area to attend work and school.

If my child has to quarantine while being tested will those days be marked absent?

Yes. If a student has to quarantine due to COVID-19 the days missed from school will be recorded as absences, however once the school receives an appropriate explanation of the reason, coding will be adapted to reflect this

Does a child have to quarantine for 14 days before returning to school if they have left the country?

Current Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel quarantining commenced at the end of July in respect of some countries and it would appear that this is subject to change at short notice. Appropriate coding is at the discretion of the school. Schools should familiarise themselves with the most updated list of countries which have had quarantine restrictions imposed. This is available from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

My child had cold and flu like symptoms, what should I do? How long should I keep them out of school?

Students who have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, new cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, or loss or change to their sense of smell or taste, should not attend school.   Their parent should contact the NI Public Health Agency helpline for advice and should also inform your child’s school. Your child will be marked on the school roll as being unwell in the same way as any other illness such as a seasonal cold. The Public Health Agency will advise on self-isolation requirements and arrangements for testing if necessary.

I want to home educate my child, can I apply for Home Tuition?

If you choose to home educate your child you will not qualify for Home Tuition support provided by the Education Authority. Home Tuition is only available in very specific circumstances and does not cover COVID-19 concerns. 

You can choose to deregister your child from school completely in order to electively home educate them (electively means you are choosing to do this). This is your legal right as a parent or carer, but once you have done this you take on full legal responsibility for your child’s education. There is no guarantee that you will be able to return your child to the same school at a later date. If you decide to deregister your child from their school, you should send a letter to the principal stating that you are going to Electively Home Educate your child. The letter must have – 

  •  Your child’s name; 
  •  Your child’s date of birth; 
  • The date you want them to be deregistered from; 
  • Your signature and date of the letter; and
  • A request to the school for an SA1 form which records you child’s attendance at the school. 

It is advised that parents and carers wishing to electively home educate their child speak with the school to discuss any concerns they may have prior to taking any action to deregister a young person from their school place.

Can I home-school my child until the virus is gone?

Under Department of Education guidelines pupils are expected to attend school as usual except those who are medically certified as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. Deregistration is required to formally home-school your child.  In Northern Ireland there is no provision for temporary deregistration of pupils.  The circumstances in which pupils may be deregistered may be found at paragraph 5 of the Circular - Circular 2020/08 – Attendance Guidance & Absence Recording By Schools

My child has been advised by a consultant that they cannot attend school – can education be provided?

Your child’s school will complete a referral to the Exceptional Teaching Arrangements Service who will determine whether your child is eligible for teaching provision

What is the criteria for a child/young person accessing education through Exceptional Teaching Arrangements?

Criteria

Evidence Required

Weight bearing short-term injuries which are unlikely to require further medical referrals and where the school is unable to make reasonable adjustment.

A signed letter from a GP confirming the nature of the injury.

Complex medical needs where the pupil is under the care of a medical consultant.

A signed report from the medical consultant outlining anticipated impact on school attendance.

Pupils who are clinically assessed as unable to attend school due to mental health reasons.

Normally a signed report from a

  • CAMHS Consultant /Team Lead STEP 3 or above
  • Consultant from LAC Support Services

outlining anticipated impact on school attendance.

School-aged mothers.

A referral from Education Welfare/SAMs Coordinator.

A pupil may access Exceptional Teaching Arrangements when they are clinically assessed as unwell and are likely to be absent from school for a period of no less than 20 days. An application for Exceptional Teaching Arrangements must meet at least one of the criteria listed below and must include the required medical evidence.  

Support for my child/young person

Can my child/young person attend school?

If your child is considered within the vulnerable children and young people definition, or is the child of key worker, they can access supervised learning at school.

How do I know if my child/young person is considered within the vulnerable definition?

The definition of Vulnerable Children as set out in the cross-departmental Vulnerable Children and Young People's Plan 2020 is: 

  • A child who has an assigned social worker because he or she is a child in need, in need of protection (or on the child protection register) or is a looked after child.
  • A child in need includes young carers, children with disabilities, and children living in families where there is domestic abuse, substance abuse, and / or mental health difficulties.
  • A child who is receiving support from, or has been referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
  • A child who has a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN), a child who is accessing EOTAS, or a child who normally accesses Education Nurture Units.
  • A child who is ‘on-the-edge’ of receiving support from children’s social services.
  • A child who is in need, including in need of protection, but whose need is not known to statutory services.
  • A child who is not known to statutory or voluntary and community support services but who is vulnerable because their family is under increased pressure due to Covid-19 related circumstances.
  • A young person who was previously a looked after child, whether or not they are receiving support from statutory services.
  • A child who has been placed for adoption.   
  • Asylum seeking and refugee children and children whose parents have no recourse to public funds

How can I access the supervised learning support for my child/young person?

Where a parent/carer considers their child to be vulnerable and believes that they should be considered for onsite placement, the point of contact is the Principal of the child’s school to determine the plan for supervised learning. Parents/carers should contact the school using usual or advised contact details through the period of restrictions.  

What should I do if my child/young person is vulnerable and I am unable to have supervised learning arranged for my child?

Where an onsite placement is unable to be facilitated, a parent/carer should communicate directly with the school to find resolution.

A multi-disciplinary meeting may be required to consider the needs of the child/young person and how these can be met within the context.

This multi-disciplinary meeting may include representatives from:

  1. Education Welfare Service
  2. Children Looked After Team
  3. Child Protection Support Service
  4. Youth Service
  5. SEN Pupil Support Services
  6. Behaviour Support Services
  7. Education Psychology
  8. Health Services
  9.  HSC Children Services
  10. Parents/Carers 

The parent(s)/carer(s) should raise any complaint or concern through the School Complaints Policy.

Can I access support from EA Services directly supporting children and young people?

All Services continue to deliver for young people referred to Services. Parents/carers should contact the appropriate Service through usual contact arrangements. Where appropriate,     Services directly supporting or carrying out assessments for children and young people will operate a ‘virtual first offer’ in agreement with the child, their parents/carers and the educational setting. EA services may be delivered in schools/DE funded educational settings in exceptional circumstances where no other type of virtual support will address the presenting need in accordance with EA risk assessment processes and PHA guidance.  If children and young people are not accessing schools or settings, services will be delivered remotely as appropriate and possible during the period of restrictions. Contact details can be found on through the Services section of the website.

How will Exceptional Teaching Arrangements be delivered?

Exceptional Teaching Arrangements usually delivered within the home will be delivered remotely in most cases. Staff will contact families directly to make necessary arrangements of pupils open to the Service.

How will counselling be delivered during restrictions?

Counselling will be provided by the EA’s Independent Counselling Service for Schools (ICSS) for post primary pupils in accordance with a risk assessment and as appropriate. This may be onsite, via telephone or secure online video calling. Counsellors will be made available on the same day each week as they would normally have been in the young person’s school.

Referrals will be made through the school’s key contact as normal, who will then liaise with the school counsellor as appropriate. The key contact will provide the counsellor with the young person’s contact details to facilitate the session(s).

How will the Education Psychology Service be delivered through the restrictions?

The Education Psychology Service will continue to carry out and progress:

  • Consultations and Assessments
  • Assessments as part of the Statutory Assessment process and Annual Reviews
  • Pre-school Referrals/ Triage Arrangements with Health & Social Care Trusts
  • Work within Multi-Agency Support Teams

This Service will focus on offering remote consultations and assessments primarily. The EA Education Psychology Service will gather information from questionnaires and other screening tools administered using virtual platforms, telephone or video call; telephone consultations with school sources such as the school’s SENCO; previous assessments; scores from standardised tests or other attainment information; and analysis of the child’s developmental checklist.

In exceptional circumstances and where no other type of virtual assessment can be progressed in accordance with EA risk assessment processes and PHA guidance, the EA Psychology Service will liaise with schools and, if possible and safe to do so, arrange to carry out an assessment in the school. In a minority of circumstances where it is not possible to carry out a virtual assessment or an assessment in school,  a series of ‘assessment rooms’ established across the EA’s three localities will be deployed. These assessment rooms are fully compliant with PHA guidance.

Parents can continue to contact their local Educational Psychology office if they have any concerns about a child or young person. Schools will continue to progress referrals through the Service’s portal in line with agreed protocols.

Will Statutory Assessments and Annual Reviews continue to be progressed?

The SEN Assessment and Review Service (Statutory Operations) will continue to operate to ensure delivery of service to parents and schools. This will include progressing:

  • The statutory assessment processes including referrals
  • Annual Reviews and the maintenance of statements of Special Educational Needs,
  • Management of the statutory processes linked to the Transfer and placement of pupils to Nursery, Preschool Primary 1 and Post Primary Schools.

Parents can contact individual local offices and are encouraged to communicate, where possible, by email with their SEN Link Officer. The SEN Helpline (028 9598 5960) continues to be available to parents for general SEN advice and guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions for Educational Settings

Cleaning Service FAQs

How regularly should each location be cleaned?

Regular cleaning plays a vital role in limiting the transmission of COVID-19.


As a minimum, frequently touched surfaces should be wiped down twice a day and one of these should be at the beginning or the end of the school day. EA cleaning staff will continue to undertake the normal cleaning regime at the end of each school day. Building Supervisors should continue to provide an ongoing cleaning service to the entire premises (including toilet areas) throughout the school day.

What type of cleaning should be undertaken?

In accordance with PHA guidance the normal system of work in relation to cleaning should be maintained, with the emphasis of cleaning being placed on high-contact areas such as sanitary areas, WC’s, sinks, taps, door handles/push plates, handrails, table/desk tops, chairs, benches & light switches. 

Building Supervisors should continue to provide an ongoing cleaning service to the entire premises dealing with such things as spillage, flooding, midday toilet cleaning, litter or any cleaning problem associated with weather conditions.

Reducing clutter and removing difficult to clean items can make cleaning easier.

Staff should keep their own workspace clean.  Schools should supply staff with cleaning materials such as antibacterial wipes or disinfectant with disposable cloths to keep their own desk/table/workstation clean. 

Staff are responsible for cleaning personal items that have been brought to work and are likely to be handled at work or during breaks, e.g. mobile phone, and should avoid leaving them down on communal surfaces or they will need to clean the surface after the personal item is removed.

What additional PPE should cleaning staff wear?

When cleaning surfaces, it is not necessary to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or clothing over and above what would usually be used. Cleaning staff should wear the following PPE; disposable gloves, disposable aprons and have access to hand washing facilities/hand sanitiser.

Staff are required to wear face coverings in communal areas (i.e. toilets, corridors, reception areas etc).

Staff are also expected to continue to wear face coverings where they are in enclosed spaces for periods exceeding 15 minutes, even where social distancing can be maintained. 

What cleaning products should be used?

All contact/touch surfaces should be cleaned with a germicidal disinfectant such as Evans Protect.

What additional measures should be put in place for cleaners?

  • Staff must adhere to the 2 metre rule for social distancing at all times and must not come within 2 metres of each other at any time.
  • Staff must not come within 1 metre of each other and have face-to-face contact including:
      • being coughed on
      • having a face-to-face conversation
      • having skin-to-skin physical contact
  • Staff must wear appropriate PPE in the course of their cleaning duties.
  • Staff should only enter cleaning stores one at a time.
  • Cleaning staff should thoroughly wash their hands for a least 20 seconds on entering and leaving the work place, after eating/drinking and using toilet facilities.
  • Staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, and/or high temperature, and/or loss of, or change in, normal sense of smell or taste - anosmia), must isolate at home.

Where can I get cleaning materials to allow staff/pupils to keep their own areas clean?

Contact procurement via email at procurement@eani.org.uk for ordering PPE and cleaning materials etc.

Where can I get hand sanitiser dispensers & who ensures they are kept stocked?

Contact procurement via email at procurement@eani.org.uk. Building Supervisors will maintain stock levels.

What action should be taken in the event of a confirmed case of COVID 19 within the location?

Consult DE COVID 19 Management Flowchart for possible/confirmed COVID 19 case in school.

EA Cleaning Service should be notified on 028 383 68186

Operating Hours 9am – 5pm Mon – Fri or via email cleaning.covid19@eani.org.uk

Out of hours service via email only

The EA Cleaning Service have established Covid-19 Cleaning Response Teams which are strategically located throughout NI. Upon notification of a confirmed case the Cleaning Service Locality Manager will arrange an enhanced clean of the affected area, which will include the use of specialist sanitising equipment.

Public areas where a confirmed case/individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids should be cleaned in accordance with the normal system of work.

Once confirmed and reported, the areas in which the confirmed case/individual has been present on that particular day should be closed off and secured until enhanced cleaning has been completed. Only after this, can staff and children return. 

How should waste be dealt with?

Waste does not need to be segregated unless an individual in the setting shows symptoms of or tests positive for COVID-19.

EA cleaning staff will continue to empty bins as part of the normal cleaning regime at the end of each school day. Building Supervisors should ensure that bins within the building complex are emptied on a daily basis.  They should also ensure litter bins within the building complex are washed and cleaned (including school meals bins).

Personal waste from individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 and waste from cleaning areas where they have been should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. This waste should be stored safely and kept away from children. It should not be placed in communal waste areas until negative test results are known, or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours. If the individual tests negative, this can be disposed of immediately with the normal waste. If COVID-19 is confirmed this waste should be stored for at least 72 hours before disposal with normal waste.

Who has responsibility for the provision of bins?

Contact procurement via email at procurement@eani.org.uk.

Who has responsibility for the cleaning of staff rooms?

EA cleaning staff will continue to undertake the normal cleaning regime at the end of each school day.

Staff should use their own cup/cutlery/crockery and ensure these are cleaned straight after use.

 

Who has responsibility for cleaning toys etc?

Staff should follow normal cleaning protocols for these items. Hard to clean items should be removed.

For further information refer to PHA guidance on Infection prevention and control: Best practice advice for nurseries and childcare settings.

 

Do I need a Sanitising Machine?

No. Sanitising equipment is a reactive measure and would only be used in the instance of a confirmed case of COVID-19. The use of a sanitising machine does not negate the need for routine daily cleaning.

Health and Safety FAQs

Last updated: 28 April 2021

Can I wedge open fire doors to reduce hand contact?

Advice from EA QSHE Environmental Compliance Unit is that existing fire safety measures should not be compromised and fire doors must remain closed in order to ensure safe compartmentalisation in the event of a fire. This is in line with legislative requirements.

I am a first aider and my certificate has lapsed, when will I be able to attend training courses?

Whilst physical attendance by staff at external training events should be strongly discouraged, attendance at statutory training sessions such as First Aid Training which have been thoroughly risk assessed and cannot be facilitated online, remains appropriate. 

If you require Emergency First Aid at Work (1 day), First Aid at Work Refresher training (2 days) or First Aid at Work (3 day) please contact your local Health and Safety office for course availability.

How do I deliver first-aid safely in a COVID-19 environment?

The recommendations from HSENI is that in addition to plastic gloves, a disposable apron and facemask should be included with the school’s first aid equipment. The use of a fluid repellent surgical face mask is recommended and use of disposable eye protection (such as face visor or goggles) should be risk assessed when there is an anticipated risk of contamination with body fluids. HSENI provides further guidance on the safe delivery of first aid and CPR.

When PPE is used, it is essential that it is used properly. This includes scrupulous hand hygiene and following guidance on donning (putting on) and doffing (taking off) PPE safely to reduce the risk of contamination.

Read our PPE and When it is Required guide for further advice on PPE.

Has the procedure for what will happen if I have to deliver CPR to an adult casualty due to the COVID-19 environment changed?

Identify cardiac arrest by looking for the absence of signs of life and the absence of normal breathing.  Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the patient’s mouth.  If you are in any doubt about confirming cardiac arrest, the default position is to start chest compressions until help arrives.  If there is a perceived risk of infection, rescuers should place a cloth/towel over the victim’s mouth and nose and attempt compression only CPR and early defibrillation until the ambulance (or advanced care team) arrives. Put hands together in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast.  Early use of a defibrillator significantly increases the person’s chances of survival and does not increase risk of infection. If the rescuer has access to any form of personal protective equipment (PPE) this should be worn.  After performing compression-only CPR, all rescuers should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water; alcohol-based hand gel is a convenient alternative. They should also seek advice from the NHS 111 coronavirus advice service or medical adviser.

The Resuscitation Council has provided further advice on CPR.

Do I give rescue breaths to a child?

It is likely that the child/infant having an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will be known to you. We accept that doing rescue breaths will increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, either to the rescuer or the child/infant. However, this risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action as this will result in certain cardiac arrest and the death of the child.

Helpful advice can accessed on UK RESUS council website.

Are there any risks associated with the use of hand sanitiser?

Risk assessments and control measures are required to manage the risks of fire, poisoning by ingestion, and poor skincare, arising from the use of alcohol based hand sanitisers. Risk assessments should consider:

  • location of dispensers in school;
  • storage and disposal of new and used stock;
  • the risks of ingestion;
  • fire safety measures;
  • COSHH requirements including skincare.

Further advice on the risks of hand sanitisers including where to locate hand sanitisers can be found in Northern Ireland NIAIC Alert.

For more information read the HSENI FAQs on dermatitis.

It is recommended that hand sanitisers are only to be used if hand washing facilities are not available.

Covid-19 Risk Assessments are available in the C2K Exchange > Resources > Covid-19 > (scroll down) > EA Risk Assessment Guidance and Templates.

Can I use a non-alcohol hand sanitiser?

To protect yourself from COVID-19 you should use an alcohol based sanitiser when hand washing is not available.  Adult supervision is recommended for children under the age of 6 years when using alcohol hand sanitisers. 

Hand Sanitiser containing alcohol, should not be used in Science Classrooms due to ignition risk.  Please refer to ‘Should I be using hand sanitiser with alcohol content in Science’ FAQ for further information.

Should I be using hand sanitiser with alcohol content in Science?

Washing hands with soap and water should always be the primary means of sanitising.

CLEAPSS have advised in guidance document GL343 7/10/20 that due to the nature of the activities within the science class and the potential fire risk, that hand sanitiser containing alcohol should not be used in the science classroom.

Please also note that whilst this document suggests the use of non-alcohol hand sanitiser; EA still follow WHO and PHA advice that only hand sanitiser containing alcohol is effective against Covid19.

It is not anticipated that science departments should have difficulty accessing soap and water.

How do schools maintain good personal hygiene amongst pupils throughout the school day?

Guidance from Northern Ireland Re-opening Schools, New School Day, recommends that:

Children should wash their hands thoroughly on arrival at the education setting and this must be repeated regularly throughout the day. Frequent washing (in tepid/lukewarm water) for 20 seconds and drying thoroughly (hand dryer, paper towels/not shared towel), particularly when entering/leaving the building and always before/after eating as set out by PHA:

  • note that sanitiser is not a substitution for hand washing;
  • younger children will require supervising / assistance with hand washing.

Where hand washing facilities are not available, then hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol content should be used.

Watch our short video, made in conjunction with Public Health Agency, on good hand washing techniques.

Is washing your hands for 20 seconds in cold water and soap as effective in killing the COVID-19 virus as using luke warm/tepid water and soap?

Warm water is preferable, but cold water is equally as effective.

Is it acceptable in schools, where pupils do not have access to sinks within their individual classrooms, to use anti- viral hand sanitiser instead of soap and water?

Hand sanitiser is recommended if soap and water is not available in the classroom, using the 7 step hand washing technique. 

Watch our short video, made in conjunction with Public Health Agency, on good hand washing techniques.

Will staff and pupils be provided with PPE when they return to school? (This is not face coverings. Please see below for advice on face coverings).

The PHA advises that routine use of PPE within education settings is not required other than for certain tasks deemed to be of higher risk of transmission. 

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases;-

• working with children, young people and pupils whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs; and

• giving children medication.

PHA guidance also makes clear that staff should continue to use PPE in line with current health and safety policies and risk assessment. 

Depending on the working environment, an individual or organisational risk assessment may identify a need for PPE, including facemasks.  Staff should only wear PPE when it is appropriate to the task they are undertaking and in line with the relevant guidance.

For any contact that has been risk assessed as requiring PPE, this will be provided.

Read our PPE and When it is Required guide for further advice on PPE.

PPE is not required to be worn by pupils. (Face coverings are not PPE).

 

In what circumstances will wearing a facemask, as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), be necessary?

The PHA advises that routine use of PPE within education settings is not required other than for certain tasks deemed to be of higher risk of transmission. 

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases.

• working with children, young people and pupils whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs; and

• giving children medication.

PHA guidance also makes clear that staff should continue to use PPE in line with current health and safety policies and risk assessment. 

Depending on the working environment, an individual or organisational risk assessment may identify a need for PPE, including facemasks.  Staff should only wear PPE when it is appropriate to the task they are undertaking and in line with the relevant guidance.

For any contact that has been risk assessed as requiring PPE, this will be provided.

What PPE is required by classroom assistants who work side by side with pupils to support their learning including classroom assistants who work across more than one protective bubble, where they cannot socially distance to fulfil this role?

Public health advice should continue to be followed. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases and staff should only wear PPE when it is appropriate to the task they are undertaking, i.e. working closely with children, young people and pupils whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs or administering medication. This also includes where 1 to 1 contact with pupils and other staff members is required for hand over hand assistance, the repositioning of pupils and in some cases dealing with pupils exhibiting challenging behaviour. The exception is where, following an individual or organisational risk assessment, it is found that there is a higher level of respiratory secretions present or a risk assessment identifies that there is an identified need for enhanced PPE, then it should be readily available and provided in line with public health guidance.

PHA advice is that staff working across more than one bubble should practice good hand hygiene, washing their hands in soap and water for 20 seconds and try to avoid touching their face.  It is recommended that resources (e.g. pens, pencils, books) should not be transferred between bubbles.  Accurate records of movements will also be helpful to schools to manage staffing concerns in circumstances where a member of staff or children should develop symptoms of the virus.   Depending on personal circumstances, staff may require individual risk assessments.

Further PPE advice for staff working with pupils with complex medical needs can be accessed on the Department of Education website.

Read our PPE and When it is Required guide for further advice on PPE.

Is there a distinction between a facemask, used as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and face coverings?

There is a clear distinction between PPE and face coverings.

PPE in this instance is specialist medical grade equipment that has been and will continue to be used when working with some pupils whose hygiene or care needs involve the possible spread of liquid or aerosol dispersion such as vomiting or spitting.

Public Health Agency guidance makes clear that staff should continue to use PPE in line with current health and safety policies and risk assessments.

For any contact that has been risk assessed as requiring PPE, this will be provided. 

Further information is available within the Education Restart document.

 

Are there circumstances when wearing a face covering might be necessary or encouraged?

In light of the latest scientific advice from the World Health Organisation, and from the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Officer, the advice on the use of face coverings within education settings, unless a reasonable excuse applies under public health guidance is as follows:

Within Education settings:-

  • Face coverings must be worn by adults and are compulsory for pupils/young people in post-primary schools (including independent and grant aided schools) in classrooms and when moving about the school in corridors and confined communal areas (including toilets) where physical distancing is particularly difficult to maintain.
  • Outside of classrooms, face coverings must be worn by adults and pupils where they cannot keep 2m distance and are interacting face-to-face with other adults and/or children and young people; and, by all adults visiting the school site
  • Face coverings must be worn in staff rooms and during adult to adult meetings lasting more than 15 minutes and by adults visiting the school site.
  • In post primary education settings it is recommended safest practice for teachers, classroom assistants to wear face coverings when a physical distance of 2 metres from other staff and students cannot be maintained.

On School Transport:-

  • It is mandatory for all pupils of post primary age to wear a face covering on public transport or school transport unless they have a reasonable excuse not to
  • It is also strongly recommended that all other pupils, regardless of age, should wear a face covering on all public transport and school transport services for the journey to school where it is appropriate for them to do so and they are able to handle them as directed.
  • It is compulsory for post primary pupils to wear face coverings in school and at drop off pick up areas unless an exemption applies

Staff and pupils, other than those in Post Primary, may wish to use face coverings during the routine school day and this is acceptable.

Schools should also be aware that some persons (including some children) are exempt from wearing face coverings.

It is important when choosing what face covering to wear that you exercise care so as not to embarrass or intimidate co-workers or disrupt a harmonious working environment.

Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they’re not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.   The EA Sensory service have provided guidance on Face Coverings in Schools.

Further information is available from the Royal National Institute for Deaf People

Is my employer required to carry out a risk assessment before I return to work?

Principals should consider the best ways to ensure key work progresses, whilst adhering to the PHA and DE guidelines on social distancing at work and should have completed a premises risk assessment.

Depending on personal circumstances, staff may require individual risk assessments which will be completed by managers in consultation with the individual staff member.  Principals can access relevant generic risk assessment documents on the C2K platform or from the DE’s Guidance on Supporting Staff to Return to School page.

Once completed, these documents should be treated as highly confidential as they contain personal information.

On return to work, all staff must strictly adhere to all workplace guidance and procedures. Procedures may include, one way systems, social distancing signage, hand washing regime, reorganised work environment, personal work environment hygiene regime etc.

Which pupils returning to school will require individual risk assessments?

Risk assessments are required only for pupils who are either clinically extremely vulnerable or are living with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.

Pupils who are living with someone who was previously shielding and in receipt of a shielding letter (clinically extremely vulnerable), should have an individual risk assessment conducted before the start of the new school term. 

Pupils previously shielding or with a family member who was previously shielding due to being identified as clinically extremely vulnerable can continue to go to school.  This is also the case for those who are clinically vulnerable to COVID-19.  Pupils should follow the guidance of their hospital consultant or General Practitioner (GP) if in doubt.  The medical advice can be shared with the school with the permission of parents/guardians.  The school can then determine if it needs to take any additional actions to reduce the risk further.

Generic Risk Assessments for pupils who are clinically extremely vulnerable or those who are living with someone who is CEV, is available in the C2K Exchange > Resources > Covid-19 > (scroll down) > EA Risk Assessment Guidance and Templates.

Supplementary Guidance for Special Schools in Northern Ireland provides further information on CEV individuals.

How will the school achieve the social distancing requirements?

The stringent application of social distancing requirements between pupils is now relaxed. Public Health guidance with respect to social distancing of 2 metres (2m) will remain in place between adults and as far as possible between adults and pupils. Schools should endeavour strenuously to implement as much social distancing as is practical where physical capacity and curriculum delivery permit.

  • Protective bubbles will be used as a key mitigating action where possible.
  • Schools should avoid prolonged interactions between classes or different year groups (for example in canteens or assembly halls).
  • Schools must also ensure that pupils do not congregate in areas such as toilets, common rooms or study rooms for long periods.

Do convector heaters spread COVID-19?

The COVID-19 virus thrives in cold, damp conditions. Warm, dry air is not conducive to the survival of the virus. Good ventilation needs to be maintained in all circumstances.

How do I maintain good ventilation within rooms during the winter months and how should I use mechanical ventilation systems safely, including air conditioning at this time?

The opening of doors and windows should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation and also to reduce contact with door handles. However, propping open of doors into corridors, external doors, security access systems and any other fire safety doors is prohibited. It should be sufficient for windows to be open dependent on climates and for existing mechanical ventilation where desired to achieve thermal comfort, but users will need to achieve a balance between maximising ventilation and achieving a tolerable working temperature.

In cooler weather windows should be opened just enough to provide constant background ventilation, and opened more fully during breaks to purge the air in the space. To balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature, the following measures should also be considered where appropriate:

• opening high level windows in preference to low level to reduce draughts

• increasing the ventilation while spaces are unoccupied (e.g. between classes, during break and lunch, when a room is unused)

• providing flexibility to allow wearing additional, suitable indoor clothing

• rearranging furniture where possible to avoid direct drafts

Heating should be used as necessary to ensure comfort levels are maintained, particularly in occupied spaces.

The Health and Safety Executive provide detailed advice regarding mechanical ventilation and air conditioning.

What will happen in school if someone becomes symptomatic?

If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature/fever or anosmia (a loss or a change in your normal sense of smell, which can also affect your sense of taste) in an educational setting, they and any members of their household within that school setting must be sent home and advised to follow the PHA guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection. Schools should keep a full record of such actions and request a parent / carer / guardian record their acknowledgement of this action. 

Coronavirus Guidance for Schools and Educational Settings provides more information on People Who Become Symptomatic Onsite and Operation of the Test and Trace system.

When a pupil/member of staff displays symptoms of COVID-19 whilst in school, and is then removed from the classroom to await collection or go home...

...Should the remaining pupils/staff be removed from this classroom and close the room until an enhanced clean takes place or upon confirmation of a negative result of COVID-19?

 If a pupil/ member of staff presents with symptoms of COVID -19, they should go home ASAP and arrange for testing.  At this stage, cleaning the affected area with available cleaning products, followed by disinfection after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

If the test is positive, in the first instance, school should contact the Education Authority emergency helpline for COVID-19 suspected or confirmed cases on 028 9041 8056 or at confirmed.covid19@eani.org.uk. They will provide initial advice and prepare the school for phoning the PHA COVID19 School Team. This helpline is open 7 days a week 8am to 8pm.

The school should then contact the PHA COVID19 School Team on 028 9536 0484 who will discuss the risk assessment and answer any questions that arise in relation to this. The PHA team is open Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am to 2pm.

Further advice on TEST and TRACING can be accessed on PHA website.

If a pupil/staff has received a negative COVID-19 result, can they return to school?

If an individual has been symptomatic or has been identified as a close contact they must self-isolate for 10 days even if they received a negative test during this time.

If an individual has not been identified as a close contact, and has not been symptomatic, and has had a negative test result, it is important to still apply caution. If everyone with symptoms who was tested in their household receive a negative result, the member of staff can return to work providing they are well enough and have not had a fever for 48 hours.

What action should I take if I am notified of a negative Covid-19 test?

If a pupil or member of staff displays only a cough and is in receipt of a negative Covid-19 test then they can return to their school or place of work providing they are otherwise fit and well.

If however, the pupil or member of staff with a negative result has a fever, they should exercise caution and only return to school or their workplace when they are fever free for 48 hours.  For further information please consult the PHA website.

Do pupils with cold symptoms such as a runny nose need to self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19?

A Pupil that has other cold symptoms such as a runny nose, is not required to be tested, does not need to self-isolate and can attend school if well enough.

Advice from the PHA recommends that a pupil only needs tested if they have a temperature, new cough, loss of taste and smell. Parents to be advised that a symptomatic pupil must stay at home and arrange for a test.

Is the use of a Nebuliser considered an AGP?

Nebulisation is not considered an AGP and a separate AGP room is not required, the child could be nebulised in a room or private area. Those involved in carrying out the procedure need to wear   PPE- mask, gloves, plastic apron if helping a child to remove the mask.

For further information please read the PHA document: ‘Guidance for Education Staff in Schools/Preschool/ Childcare Settings for Children / Young People who require Aerosol Generating Procedures’

Can children use sand trays in educational settings?

Stringent hand-washing procedures and enhanced cleaning reduces risk. Therefore children must wash their hands thoroughly before engaging in sand play and after playing with sand. Sand play has a high play value and therefore it may be used if:

  • there are individual trays for children OR
  • the sand is sterilised or changed  on a daily basis.
  • The pit or holder of the sand should also be cleaned between uses.
  • Dry sand should be used rather than wet sand.

Can water play be used in educational settings?

Water play can be used in educational settings. The water should have soap added to the water before use to enhance cleaning ability and promote infection control.

Can play dough be used in educational settings?

Stringent hand-washing procedures and enhanced cleaning reduces risk. Therefore children must wash their hands thoroughly before playing with play dough and afterwards. Children may use play dough although they should have their own individual pots/plastic bags for the play dough, clearly labelled with their name to ensure they use the same dough each time.

Can Covid-19 be passed on after handling envelopes, forms, leaflets, and do such mail items have to be quarantined for a period of time prior to handling?

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has advised that the risk is infinitesimal (low risk), and quarantining of envelopes, forms and leaflets is not required.

Can pupils bring lunch boxes and water bottles into school?

The latest guidance from the PHA is that a child may bring their lunch to school in a reusable, washable container and the parent/guardian should take care to make sure this is washed thoroughly every day after school. Likewise, a reusable bottle filled with water at home may be used, and again the parent/guardian should take care to make sure this is washed thoroughly every day after school. If water bottles are to be filled in schools then appropriate hand hygiene should be adhered to prior to filling the water bottle and the School should arrange frequent cleaning of the water taps / machines surfaces to allow children to refill bottles. 

If a pupil is self-isolating can they take an examination in school?

The DE guidance with respect to Exams should be followed exactly, and that any young person who has been asked to isolate due to COVID must complete their full period of isolation regardless of their requirements to sit any exam modules.  Schools should be encouraged not to contact PHA regarding this issue.  The messaging from PHA will be consistent with DE guidance.

HR FAQs

Procurement FAQs

Last updated: 10 June 2021

What items are available for me to buy?

All required general cleaning materials are available from the EA contracted suppliers. The following specific items are available; hand sanitisers, floor disinfectant products e.g. Shield disinfectant, Milton disinfectant, blue rolls/hand drying paper towels, soaps, aprons, gloves, tissues, cleaning wipes.  All orders will be monitored closely to ensure there is no bulk buying and ensure continuity of supply for other schools and EA.  Schools should only order items deemed necessary as per Health and Safety guidance and the ‘New School Day’ guidance document.  This is important as there is a worldwide shortage on certain PPE and cleaning consumables and bulk buying may result in schools and EA having supply difficulties.

I need to buy PPE when working with children whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs or giving medication/first aid, where can I get this?

Masks, gloves, aprons & visors are available via iProc, however the use of these should be in line with health and safety guidance and the ‘New School Day’ guidance document. It is important that schools purchase only what is required in the appropriate circumstances to ensure availability of supply for special schools and those children requiring specific intimate care.

With regards to AGPs specific masks are required ie FFP3 Masks.  These are not available from the iProc shop.  A free text requisition should be sent to the Operations Team procurement@eani.org.uk

 

 

 

Special Schools – what items are available for me to buy?

Masks, visors, aprons & gloves will be available to order via iProc.  The use of these should be in line with Health and Safety guidance and ‘New School Day’ guidance document.  The following specific items are also available; hand sanitisers, floor disinfectant products e.g. Shield disinfectant, Milton disinfectant, blue rolls/hand drying paper towels, soaps, aprons, gloves, tissues, cleaning wipes. Other general cleaning materials are available from the EA contracted suppliers.  With regards to enhanced PPE, these orders should be placed via an iProc requisition.  For staff carrying out AGP’s, FFP3 masks are required, to order these please contact Rachel Lee on Rachel.lee@eani.org.uk for further advise on fit testing.

How do I know what suppliers to order Covid-19 PPE/Cleaning Consumables from?

Suppliers and products are available to shop from the iProc store using EA’s contracted suppliers. Orders must be placed using the EA’s contracted suppliers. If orders are not placed using EA’s contracted suppliers this will cause delays in processing your orders.

The EA Procure site also provides details of all contracts and suppliers that are available for schools to use.

t is important to order all PPE supplies from our list of contractors as all PPE items supplied by EA will have relevant Health and Safety certificates and/or data sheets which have been approved and checked by the Education Authority.

I do not have access to EA Procure and/or Iproc to review the list of suppliers. What should I do?

Please contact EAProcure@eani.org.uk to register and receive log in details for EA Procure.

Suppliers’ commercial pricing is confidential and should only be used for the purpose of ordering.

PPE and cleaning consumables should be used in line with the Health and Safety and the ‘New School Day’ guidance documents.

VG/GMI schools can make their own purchasing arrangements ensuring adherence to Procurement Guidance Notes (PGN’s) or get details of the contracts from EA procure and order directly from EA contractors.

 

Should I raise separate orders for PPE and cleaning consumables?

Yes.  Schools are encouraged to place separate orders for all PPE and cleaning consumables as detailed in this FAQs document.  This will enable EA to understand volume requirements and negotiate better deals with suppliers.

What should I advise suppliers regarding deliveries?

It is important that you advise suppliers of access restrictions, including; delivery times, contact details (staff names and telephone numbers).  This will ensure that you can actively manage individuals coming onto your premises.  Adding a note on the requisition in the ‘note to supplier’ header field will facilitate this and reduce processing times for orders if provided on the initial requisition.

I urgently need a supply of goods, should I bulk order?

Given the unprecedented situation with Covid-19, suppliers and supply chains are being put under considerable pressure to obtain raw materials/products and produce goods. To ensure there are sufficient supplies for other schools you must not bulk buy and order the amount required for the needs of your school in the immediate future.  Procurement Services will be working closely with EA contractors to monitor purchasing trends and where bulk buying is identified, Procurement Services will contact the relevant schools and may advise contractors to reduce delivery quantities.  Please note, no more than 50ltrs of any hand sanitizer may be stored in any one building.  Please review HSE Guidance notes.

What should I do if a supplier can only part deliver an order due to shortages of goods?

If you do not urgently need the items that are outstanding, ascertain with the supplier when the outstanding items can be delivered and determine if this is suitable.  If the supplier cannot supply the items by your required timeframe, you may source from another contracted supplier on iProc (where available) and cancel the outstanding items.  Where there is no other contracted supplier contact procurement services who will provide further advice.

When ordering Cleaning Materials/PPE on iProc how do I enter the COVID-19 function code?

Within iProcurement once you have added all the items of PPE required to your Shopping Cart, which is “D” Delegated Expenditure, click on ‘View Cart and Checkout’.  To enter a specific function code e.g. for COVID-19, click in the ‘Function Code’ field and key in the function code 82093 to be used for this requisition of approved PPE.  If there is no function code to be used, enter 00000.  This field is mandatory.

Full steps on how to enter a function code in iProcurement are outlined on pages 12 – 14, section 2.1.6 to 2.1.9 of the EA iProcurement Requisitioner User Guide.  The guide is available on EA Sharepoint https://sharepoint.eani.org.uk/pp/iFS/Pages/default.aspx and the EANI website https://www.eani.org.uk/iprocurement-information-guides

 

What should I do if Suppliers cold call offering Covid19 products and supplies?

Schools are recommended to only purchase the items that are available from EA contracted suppliers.  Suppliers will cold call schools offering their products and services and use sales techniques to get orders.  Suppliers have sales targets to meet and cold calling is a method of achieving these sale targets.  If suppliers contact you, you should advise them to contact EA Procurement Services.

Where can I get directional and COVID-19 related signage for my school?

The DE Reopening of Schools Guidance – New School Day provides schools with direction on the safe return to school.  In light of the change of arrangements within schools, there is a need to communicate this message to pupils, staff and visitors.   Schools may wish to consider the use of signage and physical markings throughout their premises to emphasize these new arrangements.

Schools should take into consideration areas that may require additional signage, the age and stage of learning of their pupils when choosing the appropriate signage. 

The EA has several contractors on iProc who can provide this signage.

 

What type of Signage is available for me?

A number of PHA and NI Executive posters are available to download for free.  These are available on the EA Education Restart webpage, under Resources.

In addition the EA have identified a range of signage that meets the needs of schools in compliance with PHA Guidance and Social Distancing guidance.  The EA have made these available for download from the EA Website.

There are also suppliers for Signage specific to the school setting available to purchase through the EA’s iProcurement (iProc) Ordering system.  This includes the following:

  • Free Standing Signage
  • Posters
  • Strut Cards
  • Roller Banners/PVC Banners
  • Hanging Boards
  • Indoor Floor Graphics
  • Pavement Signs
  • Window Graphics
  • Stickers/Labels

This signage can be provided in alternative languages.

How can I support businesses in this challenging climate?

By receipting goods orders on iProc as soon as deliveries have been received and checked. This will ensure that payments are facilitated as quickly as possible.  Many suppliers may be experiencing cash flow issues during this time and this will help significantly. NB: These can be part-receipted if all items are not supplied at the one time. Please do NOT receipt orders for goods or services that have not been delivered.

Where can I find out about suppliers who may not be open or who are providing a reduced service?

Advice on suppliers who have provided Procurement Services with details of their closures, reduced service delivery or special instructions due to COVID-19 can be found on; the ‘EA procure site, Procurement news’ section.

If I cannot get the supplies or services that I require who should I contact?

You can email procurement queries to any of the email addresses listed here including issues regarding not being able to order or non- delivery of supplies/services.  Please email these contact points and they will provide advice and guidance;

If I have general procurement queries not related to COVID-19 who should I contact?

Detailed below are the email addresses for procurement queries including issues regarding not being able to order or non- delivery of supplies/services. Please email these contact points and they will provide advice and guidance;

 

Procurement Email Contacts

If you have a Procurement query relating to Business Services and Products, this should be directed to business.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Catering, this should be directed to catering.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Minor Works Construction, this should be directed to minorworks.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Major Works Construction, this should be directed to majorworks.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Educational Resources, this should be directed to educationresource.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Facilities Management and Maintenance, this should be directed to facilities.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Furniture and Equipment, this should be directed to equipment.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Information Communication Technology, this should be directed to ICT.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have a Procurement query relating to Transport, this should be directed to transport.procure@eani.org.uk

If you have any queries relating to requisitions and orders on iProc, this should be directed to procurement@eani.org.uk.

For iProc System Queries

If you have any system queries relating to requisitions and orders on iProc, this should be directed to Ifs.queries@eani.org.uk for the attention of Sarah Jackson/Helen Coates.

For Finance Queries

If you have any queries relating to Finance, this should be directed to Angela.Evans@eani.org.uk.

For Health & Safety Queries

If you have a Health and Safety query relating to the appropriate selection of PPE these can be directed to Covid-19@eani.org.uk.  Please mark your query for the attention of Health and Safety.  Alternatively you may wish to contact your individual health and safety office, telephone numbers are available from the EA website.

Should I raise a requisition for educational visits?

Please raise a non-catalogue request on iProcurement for educational visits in advance of the visit taking place. Please refer to the EA Educational Visits Guidance COVID-19 Update May/June 2021 when planning / organising a visit, prior to placing a requisition.

I need to buy PPE when working with children whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs or giving medication/first aid, where can I get this?

Masks, gloves, aprons & visors are available via iProc, however, the use of these should be in line with health and safety guidance and the ‘New School Day’ guidance document. It is important that schools purchase only what is required in the appropriate circumstances to ensure availability of supply for special schools and those children requiring specific intimate care. 

With regards to AGPs, specific masks are required i.e. FFP3 Masks. These are not available from the iProc shop.  Staff must be fit tested for an appropriate FFP3 before use. Fit testing will be arranged via an EA approved fit testing service.  Please contact  rachel.lee@eani.org.uk for further information.

Transport FAQs

HOME TO SCHOOL TRANSPORT DURING COVID-19
Last updated: 4 May 2021

Is home to school transport operating?

Yes, home to school transport services are operating as normal.  Pupils who use Translink services should check their schedule before travelling.  The last day of service for this school year will be 30th June 2021 and services will recommence on 1st September 2021.  Schools who have chosen to open in August should make parents aware that school transport will not be operating.

Post primary pupils must wear a face covering on all transport (exemptions apply).

Is social distancing required on school transport?

Social distancing requirements depend on the type of transport:

  1. ‘Dedicated’ school transport services e.g. EA yellow bus, a bus/taxi hired by the EA, or a Translink ‘School’ service. Social distancing is encouraged but not required.    
  2. ‘Public’ transport services e.g. Translink public bus and rail services. Social distancing is required on public transport.

Current DE guidance makes no distinction between mainstream and special transport in respect of social distancing.

Will pupils travel in their bubbles?

As per the DE guidance, there may be mixing of wider groups on home to school transport.

Are pupils required to wear face coverings on school transport? Updated 080120

Wearing a face covering is mandatory for post primary pupils on all forms of school transport. Younger pupils are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering on all school transport if they can do so. Exemptions apply for medical reasons and also for those pupils with special education needs or sensory difficulties.

Will escorts still travel with pupils?

Yes, escorts will still travel with pupils if it is required. They will try to give pupils as much distance as possible, but their role will mean they will be in close contact. 

To protect them both they will be wearing PPE which could include a mask and face shield. 

Are drivers/escorts required to wear face coverings on school transport?

The EA has provided all its drivers and escorts with face coverings and other PPE, though there will continue to be exemptions for certain individuals.  Although it is still encouraged, it is not required if a screen is installed. 

Similar guidance and assistance has been provided to private bus and taxi operators, however this remains the responsibility of the Operator to ensure their drivers and escorts are supplied with and use appropriate PPE.

Can transport accommodate a change to a school’s opening or closing time?

We recognise that DE guidance has suggested schools consider staggered opening and closing times and we are working with schools to adjust services wherever possible.  However it isn’t always possible as buses may provide pick up and drop offs for children attending multiple schools or continue onto other duties. It would also be important that we satisfy ourselves that this is possible across all the transport providers with services to your school.

If you wish to alter your times and need transport to change transport arrangements you must first speak to your Transport Officer.  If we are unable to accommodate the requested change and you proceed regardless, schools must make parents aware of the impact on school transport.

What cleaning arrangements are in place on school transport?

EA buses will be cleaned daily. Common touch points such as seat belt buckles, grab rails, handles will be cleaned regularly throughout the day.

Private Operators have also been issued with instructions on cleaning regimes and Translink has also implemented an enhanced cleaning regime. 

Are there specific arrangements for pupils who are immunosuppressed?

There are a very small number of children who, due to being immunosuppressed, may require alternative transport arrangements during Covid-19.

In these circumstances information would be required from a paediatrician and parents should be advised to contact their local transport office.

What to do if your school closes and you do not require school transport?

If for any reason school transport for the whole school is not required on any given day the Transport Service must be notified by 4pm at the latest the working day prior. 

It is critical that schools ensure parents are made aware that they should not take transport to school as there is a risk that some services will continue to operate and that children could board vehicles to school.  School transport operators are not in a position to return pupils home.

Please provide Transport with a minimum of 24hours notice that schools intend to re-open. If re-opening on a Monday, notice is required by 9am the Friday before (or the prior working following a holiday period).

What happens if a pupil (who uses school transport), driver or escort has symptoms of Covid-19, has been advised to self-isolate, or has a confirmed diagnosis?

Anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19, has been advised to self-isolate or has a confirmed diagnosis must not use school transport. 

If a child is required to go home because they are displaying symptoms, or the school has assessed that they should self-isolate, school transport must not be used for their return journey. Their parent/carer should be contacted to make suitable arrangements and the school should notify PHA that a pupil has used school transport (and what form, if known) of potential close contacts. 

If a driver/escort is required to isolate this may result in a disruption to services. Where there is sufficient notice we will do our best to advise you of this and may seek your support to share information with parents.

Do schools need to sign Private Operators’ (TX1) claim forms?

Prior to Covid-19 schools were asked to ‘sign’ and confirm private operators’ TX1 forms confirming pupil attendance. Schools are not required to complete this check at present however, this will be kept under review, in line with evolving school restart guidance.

The EA may however require your support to verify this information retrospectively. 

How can schools help school transport?

Schools can assist school transport by:

  • Reinforcing the message that pupils MUST NOT travel if they are experiencing symptoms, have a confirmed diagnosis or have been advised to isolate.
  • Ensuring EA transport staff have access to toilet and handwashing facilities and to dispose of waste from their vehicles. 
  • Supporting transport staff to complete their vehicle cleaning at the end of each day. Your drivers may need to access water and/or store cleaning products.
  • Promoting the use of face coverings on all school transport
  • Promoting the message that school transport should only be used where there is no alternative available.
  • Assisting communication with parents if there is disruption to bus services. 
  • Managing the arrival/departure of pupils.

Will there be spot checks to see if pupils are wearing face coverings on school transport?

Post primary pupils must wear a face covering (exemptions apply) and we strongly encourage younger pupils to wear them too.  After Easter there will be spot checks on school transport services to monitor compliance.  These spot checks will be unannounced and will take place at school, in transport stations and mid-journey.  We will never ask an unaccompanied pupil to disembark a vehicle if they are not wearing a face covering, however we will speak to pupils to remind them of the regulations, distribute face coverings to pupils who do not have one,  and if we observe problems with compliance we may contact schools to seek their assistance.  If you have concerns regarding compliance with face coverings on transport services to your school please contact us at hometoschool.transport@eani.org.uk

Is transport available for educational visits?

School transport is available for hire again following confirmation that educational visits can recommence. Schools should contact their local Transport Office to discuss requirements and to see if EA has driver and vehicle availability.  Schools should bear in mind that a larger, or additional, vehicle may be required to facilitate social distancing requirements, and this may have an impact on cost. 

Data Protection FAQs

Can my school tell staff, parents and pupils that a pupil or staff member may have potentially contracted COVID-19?

You have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of pupils and staff, as well as a duty of care and you can therefore provide staff, parents and pupils with such information as is necessary to ensure the health and safety of other pupils and staff in your school. Data protection doesn’t prevent you doing this but you shouldn’t provide more information than is necessary in this respect. You shouldn’t disclose the identity of any individuals or information on specific circumstances relating to individual staff or pupils.

Can my school collect health data in relation to COVID-19 about pupils or staff members?

You have an obligation to protect the health and safety of your pupils and staff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to gather lots of information about them. It is however reasonable to ask people to tell you if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and to use people’s health data to enable you to adhere to advice and guidance published by the Department of Education (DE) and the Public Health Agency (PHA) (e.g. in relation to pupils and staff who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19, or who are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable). Don’t collect more health data than you need and ensure that any information collected is treated with the appropriate safeguards to ensure confidentiality.

Can my school share pupil and staff health information with public health authorities for public health purposes?

If it is necessary for your school to share personal information (including health information) with public health authorities about specific individuals for public health purposes then data protection law won’t stop you from doing so. If it is necessary for schools to provide such information for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, the consent of the data subject will not be required. You must of course ensure that such information is managed and shared in a secure manner.

 

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has confirmed that as contact tracing is vitally important to slow the spread of COVID19 and data sharing for this purpose is in the public interest for public health reasons, schools do not require the consent of parents or pupils to share a pupil’s personal information with the PHA COVID19 School Team for this purpose. Your school should however still make parents and pupils aware that you are required to share pupil’s personal information with the PHA COVID19 School Team for this purpose. The PHA guidance to schools in this respect is available on the PHA website and the Covid-19 C2K page.

 

If your school is in any doubt about whether or not it must obtain the consent of an individual before it can share their personal information with a public health authority for any other purpose, you should ask the public health authority requesting the information to confirm the position in this respect.

What steps should my school follow to ensure that any processing of people’s health data during the pandemic complies with data protection law?

  1. Only collect and use what’s necessary

To help you decide if collecting and using people’s health data is necessary to keep your pupils and staff safe, you should ask yourself a few questions:

How will collecting extra personal information help keep your school safe?

Do you really need the information?

Could you achieve the same result without collecting personal information?

If you can show that your approach is reasonable, fair and proportionate to the circumstances, then it is unlikely to raise data protection concerns. For example, it may be necessary for you to collect and use people’s health data to enable you to adhere to advice and guidance published by the Department of Education (DE) or the Public Health Agency (PHA) (e.g. in relation to pupils and staff who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19, or who are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable).

  1. Keep it to a minimum

When collecting personal information, including COVID-19 symptoms or information relating to pupils or staff who are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable, your school should collect only the information needed to implement their measures appropriately and effectively (e.g. the information needed to enable your school to adhere to advice and guidance published by DE or the PHA). Don’t collect personal data that you don’t need. Some information may only need to be held momentarily and, if that is the case, there is no need to create a permanent record.

  1. Be clear, open and honest with pupils and staff about their data

Some people may be affected by some of the measures you intend to implement (e.g. pupils and staff who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19, or are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable). You must be mindful of this, and make sure you tell pupils and staff how and why you wish to use their personal information, including what the implications for them will be.

  1. Treat people fairly

If you’re making decisions about your pupils or staff based on the health information you collect (e.g. implementing measures in relation to pupils and staff who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19, or are clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable), you must make sure your approach is fair. Think carefully about any detriment they might suffer as a result of your policy, and make sure your approach doesn’t cause any kind of discrimination.

If you can show that your approach is reasonable, fair and proportionate to the circumstances (e.g. you are adhering to advice and guidance published by DE or the PHA), then it is unlikely to raise data protection concerns.

  1. Keep people’s information secure

Any personal data you hold must be kept securely and only held for as long as is necessary.

All personal information relating to pupils or staff processed by your school, especially special category data (e.g. health data or information about ethnicity) must be kept securely and only held for as long as is necessary. You must ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of such personal information.

You must ensure that the personal information can only be accessed, altered, disclosed or deleted by those authorized to do so.

When considering the physical security of the personal information processed by your school, you should consider factors such as:

  • The quality of doors and locks, locked storage cabinets and the protection of your premises by such means as alarms, security lighting or CCTV;
  • How you control access to your premises (and personal information held within your premises), and how visitors are supervised;
  • How you dispose of any paper and electronic waste; and
  • How you keep IT equipment, particularly mobile devices, secure.

When considering cybersecurity in relation to the personal information processed by your school electronically, you should look at factors such as:

  • system security – the security of your network and information systems, including those which process personal data; and
  • data security – the security of the data you hold within your systems, e.g. ensuring appropriate access controls are in place and that data is held securely;
  1. Pupils and staff must be able to exercise their information rights

As with any data collection, make sure you tell pupils and staff about their rights in relation to their personal information, such as the right to access their personal information or to have any factual inaccuracy in their personal information rectified. Pupils and staff must have the option to exercise those rights if they wish to do so, and to discuss any concerns they may have with you.

How can my school show that our approach to processing during the pandemic is compliant with data protection law?

To show that your processing of data is compliant, you will need to comply with the accountability principle. It makes your school, as data controller, responsible for complying with the GDPR and says that you must be able to demonstrate your compliance when processing personal data. One way of demonstrating accountability is by carrying out a data protection impact assessment (DPIA).

If your school is going to process health information, then you should conduct a DPIA focusing on the new areas of risk. This DPIA should set out:

  • the activity being proposed;
  • the data protection risks;
  • whether the proposed activity is necessary and proportionate;
  • the mitigating actions that can be put in place to counter the risks; and
  • a plan or confirmation that mitigation has been effective.

A template DPIA is available on the Information Commissioner’s Office website (https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/2553993/dpia-template.docx) and can be used to ensure that the minimum requirements of a DPIA are met.

During the pandemic, my school is worried that our data protection practices might not meet our usual standard or our response to information rights requests will take longer. Will the ICO take regulatory action against my school?

No. The ICO has confirmed that it understands that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work and that it won’t penalise organisations that it knows need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual approach during this extraordinary period.

The ICO has also confirmed that whilst it can’t extend statutory timescales, it will tell people through its own communications channels that they may experience understandable delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic.

The ICO has also confirmed that it will be taking the same pragmatic approach in relation to any delays in responding to FOI requests during the pandemic.

More of our staff may be homeworking and arrangements will have to be made to facilitate remote learning during the pandemic. What kind of security measures should my school have in place for homeworking and remote learning during this period?

Data protection is not a barrier to increased and different types of homeworking. During the pandemic, staff may work from home more frequently than usual. Data protection law doesn’t prevent that, but you’ll need to consider the same kinds of security measures for homeworking that you’d use in normal circumstances.

Due to the security provided by C2K it is, as always, recommended that staff use C2k email addresses to email any personal information or sensitive documents – the C2K file management system is also recommended for transfers from work to home.

Vital aspects of the work of your school can be maintained by logging in to the MySchool portal via www.c2kschools.net and using the following C2k on-line Learning and Teaching Services:

MySchool:

  • C2k Exchange (information portal for Staff only)
  • C2k Newsdesk and Seomra Nuachta (daily news stories and curriculum linked activities plus much more)
  • Fronter (Online learning environment where staff can create their own rooms and a range of ‘Ready-to-Go’ rooms are also available. See further information below.)
  • Office 365 (opt-in service providing online collaboration space and productivity tools)
  • G Suite (opt-in service providing online collaboration space and productivity tools)
  • Email
  • Equella (library of resources)
  • C2k Media Library (online video resources)
  • MyFiles (access to Documents and Shared Resources drives in school);
  • Video Conferencing services: Collaborate Ultra
  • Eclipse and Junior Librarian (links to curriculum related websites)
  • Learning Exchange (service information and guidance for staff and students)

SIMS/FMS (Staff only) via https://remote.c2kschools.net from a C2k Laptop

For more information and guidance on how schools can use C2k services to ensure that teaching and learning continues in the event of schools having to close please refer to ‘Information Sheet EN091 – Extending teaching and learning beyond the school.pdf’ which is available on the C2k Exchange.

For further details on SIMS view Information Sheet EN088 and for FMS view EN128 which are available on the C2k Exchange.

What responsibilities do school staff have when working remotely?

Any member of school staff working remotely is responsible for ensuring that they work securely and protect personal information about pupils (and their families) or school staff from loss or unauthorised access.

What responsibilities do school staff have when working remotely using computers or mobile devices?

You must take care when working on any document or system containing personal information about pupils (and their families) or staff. In particular, you should ensure that you are not in a place where anyone could overlook your screen.

You must not allow non-school staff (including family and friends) to access personal information about pupils and their families.

Working remotely on any document or system containing personal information about pupils (and their families) or staff using a computer or mobile device is a significant information security risk if you are not careful when doing so. If you are working on any document or system containing personal information about pupils (and their families) or staff but move away from your screen for any reason, you should lock it.

Are there likely to be any increased cybersecurity and Coronavirus-related Phishing threats when working remotely?

School staff, parents and pupils should remain vigilant of increased cybersecurity threats, some of which may specifically target remote access arrangements. Unfortunately, cybercriminals will not be curtailing their efforts to access valuable data during the pandemic, and in fact, will likely seek to take advantage of some of the confusion and communication issues that might arise under the circumstances.

School staff, parents and pupils should also be vigilant of phishing emails with malicious links disguised as coronavirus information or updates.

Can school staff take paper files containing personal information out of the school for homeworking and what kind of security measures should we have in place for homeworking with paper files?

The use, transportation or storage of hard copy documents containing personal information is a high information security risk when working remotely. Therefore, where possible, the use of paper documents containing personal information outside of your school should be kept to a minimum.

However, where it is necessary to take paper files out of the school, a log should be kept recording when any paper file is taken out of school. This log must record a file reference or a description of the nature/contents of the file, the member of school staff that has taken the file out of the school, the date it was taken out of the school and the date the file is returned. The staff member that takes the file from the school should sign the log entry when they remove the file from the school and when the file is returned to the school.

Where there is a need to take paper files out of the school, the papers should be securely bound within an appropriate folder – not a loose bundle of papers. Paper files should be carried in an appropriate bag or box so that they are not on display and there is less risk of them being dropped. The staff member taking the papers should go straight home with the papers.

Steps should be taken to store papers securely at home, locking them away either during the day whilst not working on them and at the end of each working day.

When working from home you should ensure that you are not in a place where anyone could overlook the papers you are working on.

If school staff have to rely more on the use of video conferencing or telephone calls during the pandemic, is there any advice which we should follow in this respect?

Where you are using Skype, video conferencing or telephone to enable you to work remotely, you should ensure that you cannot be overheard by members of the public, other members of the household or any visitors.

What else should my school do to ensure that it does not breach its data protection obligations during the pandemic?

Whilst the advice issued by the ICO referred to above highlights that it may not be possible for data controllers to meet their usual standards in all respects (e.g. it may not be possible to respond to information requests received within the usual statutory timeframes), schools should adhere to the usual standards of data protection during the COVID-19 pandemic to the extent reasonably possible.

In particular, schools should continue to exercise the usual standard of care when processing personal information relating to pupils (and their families) and staff. Any personal information relating to pupils (and their families) or staff should continue to be communicated in a way that ensures that there is no unauthorised access to such information.

As always, schools should take care to ensure that the contact details which they hold for pupils and parents (e.g. home addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers) are accurate and up to date, and that care is taken to ensure that all communications containing personal information are correctly addressed.

Also, when putting arrangements in place to provide parents and pupils with resources and online links to enable children to continue their education in a home setting, schools should be mindful that the personal information of pupils or parents should not be disclosed to other pupils or parents. For example, if textual resources or links to online resources are being emailed to all parents in a particular class or year group, the email should be blind copied to all recipients so that the other recipients’ email addresses are not disclosed.

Can my school use mobile messaging apps (such as WhatsApp) to communicate with parents during the pandemic?

Whilst parents may choose to establish their own private groups on mobile messaging apps (such as WhatsApp) to communicate with each other if they wish, the Authority would advise against schools using such apps for official school communications. Firstly, when such groups are set up every person in that group usually has their phone number, and possibly a profile photograph if they have one, shared with every other person in the group (and usually without giving their consent for their personal data to be shared in this manner). Also, the lack of auditing and editing ability the school would have over such groups would make it difficult for the school to comply with a Subject Access Request or a request for deletion if one were received. There may also be an issue with such groups as to the location of the storage of information within them. In addition to these data protection issues, there is also the risk of unsuitable material (or personal information) being posted to such groups.

What should staff do if a Personal Data Security Incident is confirmed or suspected when working remotely?

All staff must report any loss or suspected loss, or any unauthorised disclosure or suspected unauthorised disclosure, of any personal data relating to pupils (and their families) or school staff immediately to the school principal and the school’s Data Protection Officer (DPO). If your school has appointed EA to be its DPO then the confirmed or suspected personal data breach should be reported to EA’s Information Governance Team by emailing dpo@eani.org.uk followed up immediately by a phone call to the EA’s Information Governance Team on 028 8241 1300.

What should my school do if it receives a subject access request for the information used by a teacher to determine pupil grades, how does the exam script and marks exemption apply?

The UK GDPR gives individuals the right to see information which an organisation holds about them, subject to certain exemptions. This is known as the right of access and is exercised by the individual making a Subject Access Request.

Under UK GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018, the exam script and marks exemption means pupils do not have the right to copies of the information which they record during an exam or assessment.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic many pupils may not be able to sit their exams again this year. Instead, teachers may use alternative methods to assess and decide grades, including, pupil assessments. The updated ICO guidance confirms the exam scripts and marks exemption includes any academic, professional or other assessment which teachers use to determine a pupil’s knowledge, skill or ability to make an assessment of their performance, and includes answers in preliminary and mock exams, written work and assessments.

The exam script and marks exemption does not extend to information recorded by the person assessing a pupil’s performance. In this instance, the pupil is entitled to be provided with this information; however, the exam script and marks exemption does include special rules which provide for longer response time for complying with this type request:-

If a pupil makes a request for access to information used by a teacher to decide their student grade, before the official results are announced, the timeframe for responding to such requests is the earliest of:

  • within five months of receiving the request; or
  • within 40 days of announcing the exam results.

However, if a pupil requests access to information used by a teacher to decide their grade after the results have been published, this must be dealt with within the usual timeframe for responding to a Subject Access Request (within 1 month of receiving the request), subject to any  unavoidable delays caused by the impact of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

The ICO notes that the types of information which a pupil might be entitled to, after final results have been published might include:-

  • teacher assessments;
  • evidence used by teachers to make decisions, such as previous results from mock exams, assignments or assessments;
  • their performance records; or
  • written comments or email exchanges discussing your performance, provisional grades or teacher assessments.

Once results are published, can we opt to provide all pupils with the information we submitted to exam boards?

Some schools may choose to be proactive and provide all students with the information which was submitted to exam boards, (i.e. teacher or centre assessed grades), after results have been published. Should your school be considering this, you should ensure you have taken in account data protection and/or any other legal considerations as may be relevant. Additionally, if your school is opting for this route, you should be transparent about this and make pupils aware in advance of their notice of their intention to do so. Schools should also consider whether and what additional information or guidance they may need to provide to pupils in that case, to help pupils to understand the context in which their final result was decided.

What if our qualifications regulator instructs us to disclose provisional grade information to our pupils in advance of the official results day, does the exam results exemption prevent us from doing this?

No, the ICO have noted that they are aware that approaches to exams differ across the UK and that some qualifications regulators in certain jurisdictions asked schools to share provisional grades with students, before they are submitted to the exam board. The ICO have confirmed that schools should follow the procedures and guidance which the relevant regulator and/or exam board provides to them. This is important so that the assessment and appeals process are run correctly.

The exam script exemption will still apply however, therefore a pupil cannot use their subject access rights to access additional information outside that of which the relevant regulator or exam board has asked the school to provide to pupils.

It is our understanding that presently, for schools and colleges in NI, the grades that schools submit to exam boards are treated as confidential, pending results day. Should you require further information in this respect please see CCEA Summer Awarding 2021 information or contact CEEA.

Do we have to provide the teacher assessments/rank order information to students this year?

This year it is again likely that Schools will receive subject access requests from pupils seeking information about how their grades have been decided, including teacher assessments, rank order and the evidence used to make these decisions.

The GDPR gives individuals a right to see information that is held about them unless an exemption applies.

Students do not have a right to get copies of their answers from mock exams or assignments used to assess their performance. This is because the exam script exemption applies to information that has been recorded by the students themselves during an exam or assessment.

When considering releasing information about pupil rank orders or anything else that might reveal something about another pupil, Schools should always consider whether providing this could reveal information about other pupils.

If it would then the School will have to consider whether it is reasonable to disclose this information rather than withhold it. This will involve balancing the data subject’s right of access against the other individual’s rights and so will depend on the specific circumstances. The ICO’s ‘What should we do if the data includes information about other people?’ section in the ICO’s Right of Access Guidance will be of assistance to Schools in this regard.

The ICO have also considered this particular issue previously and provided the following by way of illustrative example of the approach a school might take:

Disclosing to a student that they ranked first in the top grade is unlikely to disclose individual level information about the rest of the cohort. All it reveals is that the rest of the cohort ranked below them, rather than any other student’s rank position.

Disclosing the rank order may be an issue in particularly small cohorts (say 2 -3 people). Any requests received where a small cohort is concerned need to be looked at on a case by case basis – is it feasible to obtain consent from the other individuals to release the cohort information or is it reasonable to provide it without that consent? You’ll need to consider whether it’s fair to treat students differently in small cohorts, by refusing to release their rank order, when that information is available to students in larger cohorts.

Can we still discuss information with our pupils as to their performance and the evidence we intend to use?

Yes. Schools should be open and transparent with students and their parents where possible. The exam marks exemption is intended to prevent pupils from getting their final results early, so that all pupils receive their final, moderated results at the same time, it does not and in not intended to prevent schools from discussing appropriate information with their pupils and their parents as to, their performance and the evidence which will be used to assess their grade.

What if my school needs further advice and guidance?

The Authority’s ‘Think Data’ online resource hub provides support materials, detailed guidance documents and useful templates that schools can use to ensure they are compliant with data protection legislation - www.eani.org.uk/thinkdata. The Authority’s Information Governance team is also available to advise and assist schools in this respect.

If you require further advice and guidance you can call 028 8241 1300 or email thinkdata@eani.org.uk.

Music FAQs

What guidance is available for schools on restarting music?

EA has recently published ‘Music Unlocked’, guidance for schools, on restarting music which includes guidance on singing, instrumental and vocal lessons and ensembles. This guidance was updated on 22nd March 2021.

Child Protection Support Service (CPSS)

How do I contact the Child Protection Support Service (CPSS) Helpline?

The CPSS Helpline is still functioning as normal.  Callers can make contact via the same telephone number of 028 95985590 and will be able to receive advice and guidance from a Designated Officer.  Alternatively you can also email: 

CPSSAntrim@eani.org.uk 

CPSSArmagh@eani.org.uk 

CPSSBelfast@eani.org.uk 

CPSSDundonald@eani.org.uk 

CPSSOmagh@eani.org.uk 

I am scheduled to attend training. Is this going ahead?

Yes, all our training is now online either via live platform or via pre-recorded or written resources. We also have a number of resources available via Equela and the EA website   https://www.eani.org.uk/school-management/safeguarding-and-child-protection/resources 

My school is closed as we have no key worker children or vulnerable children attending. What level of contact should staff have with pupils while the school is closed?

This will be at the discretion of the school management.  The CPSS sent information to schools on Friday 20th March 2020 to try and provide help with this issue.  Schools provide key pastoral care to all children and young people in your care and while schools are closed, staff are still working, albeit from a distance.  Teachers should monitor the use of online teaching programmes and make contact with parents if a child has not accessed same on a weekly basis.  Nursery school teachers could consider contacting parents fortnightly. 

Primary school teachers could make contact with parents of the children in their class and with permission contact with the children in their class regularly.  In Post Primary schools, form teachers could consider making contact with the young people in their form class regularly.. The purpose of this contact, that can be via online platform, telephone call or face to face to check in with parents, children and young people on the child or young person’s emotional health and well–being, educational needs and to provide feedback on any work completed.  Children and Young People will return to school, making individual contact from their school worthwhile and could mitigate against any anxiety or worry about returning.  This will also allow the child, young person and family to know the school community cares about them individually 

How do I keep in contact with other agencies working with children and young people?

If you are a member of the Safeguarding Team you should contact the other agencies involved to ensure they know how they can contact you and vice versa.  While schools may have shared contact information with parents, this also needs to be shared with other relevant agencies. Schools who have websites or use social media should highlight how contact can be made to the school. 

Can and should our school be represented at multi-agency meetings?

Yes, designated safeguarding staff should attend, if not physically, then virtually via teleconferencing or online platform.  If this is not possible a report should be sent to the conference and shared with parents prior to the meeting.  

The views and assessment of those staff who know the children and young people are crucial in the decisions made at these forums.  EA staff will continue to be involved in multi-disciplinary meetings including Child Protection Case Conferences, Looked After Children Reviews and Family Support Meetings. 

A child has made a disclosure while I was speaking to him/her online or I am concerned about the child’s welfare. What should I do?

Child Protection and Safeguarding concerns follow the same process, whether they happen online or face to face.  You should adhere to your school child protection policy and contact the Designated Teacher, Deputy Designated Teacher or Principal.  They can then make contact with the CPSS helpline for guidance and advice, if necessary.  Designated Staff can also make contact directly to Social Service Gateway and or PSNI Central Referral Unit.   

I am a Designated Teacher for Child Protection or a School Principal. Should I share my contact details with the EA?

Yes, you should contact the CPSS and provide this information. Other agencies will often contact the EA because they know many schools are closed. We will not share your information with another agency or professional.  We will make contact with you and ask you to contact the agency or professional involved.  

Children in Entertainment and Employment Team (CEET)

How do I contact the CEET?

You can contact CEET by emailing CEET@eani.org.uk 

I am a chaperone who was scheduled to attend training that has now been postponed. When will I receive my training?

Given the unprecedented situation with Covid-19 the CPSS needed to postpone this training.  We are working with C2k and EATV to try and develop materials for chaperones.  Resources are available via the EA website: 

https://www.eani.org.uk/help-available/apply-for-child-employment-children-in-entertainment-and-chaperone-applications 

My production company applied for performance licences however due to Covid-19 the production is now postponed. Will the applications be returned to me?

This information can be returned to you, however, if the production is likely to take place at a later date, we can hold your information securely and in line with Data Protection and GDPR.  

My child has a work permit. Given schools are closed can my child work more hours outside of what is agreed on the permit?

No. While schools are partially closed this is not a school holiday and remote learning is ongoing. Alongside this, schools have been closed to aid the fight against the pandemic. We do not want for any child or young person to be placed at any greater risk of harm.   

The Children Looked After Education Project

Where can I access support from the Education Authority in relation to Children Looked After?

Support is available through the Children Looked After Education Project. You can contact this Team either by phone or through an Electronic Post Box:

Helpline – 028 7051 1086 – available from 8am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 4pm on Friday and during term time

Who can contact the Children Looked After Project Helpline and Electronic Post Box?

Anyone wo works with or cares for Children Looked After of Statutory School Age. For example, Parent/Carers, Social Workers, Schools and other relevant Children Looked After Partners

What support is available from this EA Service in relation to Children Looked After?

  • General evidence-based advice and guidance in relation to Children Looked After and the Education System
  • Support for those who make up the Team around Children Looked After
  • Signposting to other EA and outside Agencies supporting the education of Children Looked After
  • Guidance Documents - for example, Supporting Children Looked After in crisis, How Trauma impacts learning and development, A Recovery Curriculum for Children Looked After and Self and Collective Care Strategies for Education Staff
  • Consultation with a Multidisciplinary/Interagency Project Team
  • Co-ordinating a Multiagency response to Children Looked After in crisis

Where could I get further information about how to help Children Looked After in Education?

Putting Care into Education Resource Booklet – A guide for Primary Educators (both in School and at Home) of Care Experienced Children and Young People in Northern Ireland.

This Resource provides an insight into how relational trauma affects child development, why education can be challenging for Care Experienced Children and Young People and what we can do to improve the education and learning for all Children.

Post Primary Behaviour Support and Provisions Service

How can I access support from Post Primary Behaviour Support and Provisions?

The normal referral system is fully operational.  Subsequently if schools require information regarding individual pupil referrals, training or EOTAS you should contact your locality Assistant Advisory Officer. 

Locality SW – 02838 314450

Locality North - 02894482202

Locality East - 02890792061

If a school requires urgent support during this time they can contact the PPBSP Helpline on : 028 9598 5532

A pupil in our school usually attends a Partnership Placement. Can this still go ahead?

Yes, however the pupil can only attend school or Centre and not both during the week in order to protect bubbles and reduce the spread of the virus. Please contact the Senior Teacher of the centre to discuss arrangements.

Can a school still apply for an EOTAS placement?

Yes, normal referral procedures are to be followed.  A school can submit an EOTAS referral at any time. The next EOTAS panel is due to take place at the end of April.

I would like to access training in relation to SBEW. How can I access this?

All Schools and settings can access training through the regional training calendar. All training is currently delivered through online platforms

For individual school or setting training, all requests for training are operating by the usual process.  Please compete a B1 referral form or contact your designated AAO or local office to arrange.

  • Locality SW - 02838 314450
  • Locality North - 02894482202
  • Locality East - 02890792061

Education Welfare Service FAQs

How can I access support from Education Welfare Service?

Every school has a designated Education Welfare Officer operating as a direct link to the Service, and to support with vulnerable young people at this time.

The normal referral system is fully operational.  Subsequently if schools require information regarding individual pupil referrals, training or EWS you should contact your Link EWO.

EWS have adapted their model of intervention from a focus on attendance related problems to welfare support.  EWS as a Social Work team have the multi-disciplinary connections within local communities to ensure the most appropriate support is in place for each young person.

Schools can make contact with Offices on the contact details below.

Ballymena Tel: 028 2566 1266 Email: micheal.kelly@eani.org.uk

Armagh Tel: 028 3751 2386  Email: andrea.wills@eani.org.uk

Dundonald Tel: 028 9056 6498     Email: paul.blanchflower@eani.org.uk

Belfast Tel: 028 9056 4347  Email: heather.grimason@eani.org.uk

Omagh Tel: 028 82411289 Email: patricia.devine@eani.org.uk

Who do I contact regarding a school age mother/mother to be in my setting?

School aged Mothers Programme:

isa.grimley@eani.org.uk - (Armagh, Newry, Lisburn)

Yury.fleming@eani.org.uk - (Antrim, Newtownabbey)

Adele.fulton@eani.org.uk - (Ballymena, Coleraine)

Janice.stewart@eani.org.uk - (Derry, Omagh and Enniskillen)

Deboragh.gormley@eani.org.uk - (Belfast)

Telephone: 028 8241 1289

Primary Behaviour Support & Provisions (PBS&P)

What Support is available from PBS&P at this time?

PBS&P continues to operate as a critical service. Where appropriate, direct support for children will operate a ‘virtual first offer’ in agreement with the child, their parents/carers and the educational setting. PBS&P may be delivered in schools in exceptional circumstances where no other type of virtual support will address the presenting need in accordance with EA risk assessment processes and PHA guidance. Priority will be given, where appropriate and or necessary, to supporting Vulnerable Children and Young People.

How can I access support from Primary Behaviour Support and Provisions?

Referral forms can be found on the C2k platform under EA Forms in relation to the following 2 areas of service delivery:

  1. Part time Primary EOTAS Partnership Placement
  2. School Improvement Capacity Building

PBS&P can provide training on a range of specific issues relating to supporting pupils with SBEW needs, addressing bullying concerns, development of a Positive Behaviour and Ant-Bullying Policy, linked to the School Development Plan or a particular Special Education Need (SEN) initiative the school is involved with or planning to progress.

All referrals wanting to request targeted or intensive pupil support should be sent to the service mailbox:

PrimaryBS.Preferrals@eani.org.uk .

General queries to the service can be made by phone. Phone lines are operational during office hours and a voice message facility is available.

  • 028 90564385 for Belfast and Dundonald office areas
  • 028 38314454 for Armagh and Omagh office areas
  • 028 94482267  for Ballymena and Antrim office areas
  • 028 71383975 for Strabane/ Londonderry office areas

The Telephone Advice and Support Helpline is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on: 028 3831 4461

Alternatively enquiries may be e-mailed to: primarybsp.enquiries@eani.org.uk

A pupil in our school usually attends a Partnership Placement. Can this still go ahead?

Yes, however the pupil can only attend either school or EOTAS; not both during the week in order to protect bubbles and reduce the spread of the virus. Please contact the Senior Teacher of the centre to discuss arrangements.

Can a school still apply for an EOTAS placement?

Yes, referral forms for consideration of a partnership placement at the next Primary EOTAS panel can be found on the C2k platform under EA Forms.

Intercultural Education Service FAQs

Pupil Support Services

How should schools manage the learning of pupils who require specialist provision but who DO NOT have a statement of special educational needs?

Some schools have pupils accessing specialist provision for speech and language needs who do not have a statement of special educational needs. Specialist staff in these schools are advised to liaise closely with each pupil’s home school to ensure that effectively tailored and differentiated remote support is in place. Liaison is also required where a pupil may be the child of a key worker requiring a placement to determine which school is the most appropriate setting for that pupil to attend. This liaison should include pupils whose placement began in January 2021.

Some schools have pupils accessing specialist provision for medical needs without a statement of special educational needs. This typically will be in the form of additional adult assistance for children with complex needs arising, for example, from Type 1 Diabetes. These schools should ensure that, where a pupil is the child of a key worker requiring a placement, this provision is made available to them to support and scaffold the management of their medical needs whilst in school.

In some cases schools may determine that a pupil should be considered as vulnerable due to significant special educational or medical needs but who do not have a statement of special educational needs. This, with parental agreement, may facilitate attendance at school for supervised learning and/or access to on-going education or health support in the school setting.

SEN Early Years Inclusion Service

We will be providing the following:

  •  Information and Training – this will be available to all service users:
    • We will continue to increase our range of resources and short online trainings for parents and early years setting professionals on the SEN EYIS web tile.
    • We will provide training for leadership and early years practitioners. This can be accessed by all early educational settings via the Children and Young Peoples Training portal.
    • Queries to the service can be made by contacting any SEN EYIS office by phone. Phone lines are operational during office hours and a voice message facility is available.
       
  • Workshops, advice and tailored programmes – this will be available to families and early educational settings of children referred to the service by the Early Years SEN Panel.
    • We will prioritise our children with Statements of Special Educational Needs by making direct telephone contact with their educational settings and/or parents.
    • We will extend our themed cluster menu for parents and make direct telephone contact to offer places where appropriate.
    • We will continue to make direct early contact by telephone with the parents of all newly referred children. The purpose of this call will be to introduce the service, gather information and provide initial support.
    • Parents and educational settings currently working with an assigned team member will be contacted by their link or can get in touch before that using contact details provided by their link. 

Following EA Health and Safety guidance, the service will be delivered on a remote first basis where possible. Should an on-site visit be deemed necessary all relevant EA Health and Safety risk assessment processes will be adhered to.

All forms of electronic/digital communication available to the service will be used to facilitate support. These may include

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Website
  • Other digital platforms

The Interim Early Years Special Educational Needs Panel is the single point of referral for the Early Years Inclusion Service.

SEN Early Years Support and Resources available:

Cognition and Learning

Sensory Processing

Social, Behavioural and Emotional Wellbeing

Social Communication and ASD

Language and Communication

Preschool resources from the EA Autism Advisory and Intervention Service

Routines

Activity Systems

Social Communication

Toileting

Transitions

Preschool resources from the EA Sensory Service

Visual Impairment

Booktouch guide to reading 2017

Choosing books for children with VI

High Contrast Early Books 

It Helps me if ...

Let's Play- Toys Play Ideas for young children with VI

Reading aloud to a child with VI

Outdoor Play for children with VI Messy and Muddy

Kays Pictures Say & Match App

This Little Finger

What to Look for in an Early Years Setting

Hearing Impairment

Listen Learn and Talk

Communication Trust - Small Talk

Communication Trust Listen Up Preschool

Early support deafness and hearing loss

Fridge cards Language Prompts

Helping your deaf child to develop language and communication

Advice for parents

Toys and play

Preschool resources from the EA Language and Communication Service

Supporting Language and Communication in the Early Years

Preschool resources from the EA SEN Inclusion Service

Supporting children with Down’s Syndrome in the Early Years

EA Supporting Learning Resources

RISE NI (Regional Integrated Support for Education) Parent Website which has been launched contains information leaflets, suggested activities/resources and parent training videos developed by clinical psychologists, behaviour therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and physiotherapists.

Please see new Education and Training Inspectorate publication, designed in consultation with pre-school settings, highlights how staff developed exciting approaches for digital learning and teaching during lockdown.

If you require any additional information please contact the Early Years Inclusion Service at:

Omagh Office
Armagh Office

028 8241 1580

Antrim Office
Londonderry Office

028 9448 2298

Dundonald Office
Belfast Office

028 9078 4283
Last updated: 01/07/2021