Covid FAQs and Guidance

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

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Young People

Transport FAQs

Last updated: 18 February 2022

Is home to school transport operating?

Yes, but services can be disrupted at short notice because of the pandemic. Parents are reminded that the Department’s guidance is that home to school transport should only be used where there is no alternative available. Please think about active travel and check the EA website each evening for service updates. Pupils who use Translink services should check their schedule before travelling.

How do I find out if my route is operating?

Routes can be disrupted,  at very short notice, due to COVID and a shortage of drivers across the industry.  EA has a dedicated web page, Transport Updates, where we post details each evening of EA bus routes that cannot operate.  We also work with schools so they can share information with parents.  Private Operators are responsible for notifying parents if their route cannot operate.  Parents are also encouraged to follow the EA  and Translink on Facebook and Twitter.

Is social distancing required on school transport?

Social distancing is not required on EA buses or services provided by contracted private operators. The Department of Infrastructure has advised that where it’s not possible to maintain a 1metre distance on public transport pupils should continue to take precautions to reduce the risk, such as wearing a face covering to protect others, unless exempt and/ or have a reasonable excuse not to do so, avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people and keep the time spent near others as short as possible.

Will pupils travel in ‘school bubbles’?

The Executive has agreed that the requirement for school bubbles will be removed from the beginning of the of the school year. However, we would advise that you try to sit with your siblings or someone from your class, year or school.

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

Wearing a face covering is strongly recommended for post primary pupils on all forms of transport and in transport stations. For information on exemptions or other information on face coverings visit the NI Direct website.

The EA has established a team of officers who will run spot checks to monitor and encourage  the wearing of face coverings on home to school transport.

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.

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 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, including used face coverings, on board.

What happens if a pupil, 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. The school should contact the parent/carer to make suitable arrangements.

Parents should ensure their child knows that if they become aware of COVID-19 symptoms while on board a vehicle, they should inform the transport driver or escort (if there is one on board their vehicle) and school staff immediately upon arrival at school.

If a driver/escort is required to isolate this may result in a disruption to services.

Frequently Asked Questions for Educational Settings

Cleaning Service FAQs

Last updated: 19 October 2021 

Is an enhanced clean required when there has been a positive case of Covid-19?

During the pandemic, the Education Authority has been carrying out an enhanced level of cleaning in schools where there have been confirmed cases of Covid-19.

However, whilst this has provided additional assurances, it has also meant that class-rooms were often unavailable, whilst awaiting an enhanced clean, resulting in additional disruption to schools and young people.

The Chief Medical Officer and PHA have now confirmed that enhanced cleaning is not required in most circumstances where there is a confirmed case of Covid-19.  Normal cleaning is deemed appropriate and therefore the standard clean at the end or start of the day is sufficient.  The Rapid Response Cleaning Teams will therefore be stood down in this capacity by week commencing 20 September 2021.

Where PHA specifically advise that an enhanced clean is required due to exceptional circumstances such as a cluster, schools should contact the EA Cleaning Service to arrange an enhanced clean by the Rapid Response Team. 

The EA Cleaning Service will continue to provide advice and guidance to all schools in relation to Covid 19 cleaning related issues.  Please contact the cleaning service via email at cleaning.covid19@eani.org.uk

Please see revised risk assessment in line with this amended approach.

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.

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: 15 April 2022

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?

First Aid Training is now available and has been thoroughly risk assessed with Covid-19 control measures in place.

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 H&S 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?

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.

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.

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. 

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

Primary school children are not recommended to use face coverings on school premises. 

From Easter 2022 it is no longer recommended that a face covering is worn by post-primary pupils on school premises. 

It is strongly recommended that all pupils regardless of age continue to wear a face covering on all public and school transport where it is appropriate for them to do so and they are able to handle them as directed. 

All pupils and staff should be permitted to wear a face covering at school if they wish to do so.

All visitors to the school should be encouraged to wear a face covering.

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 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.

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.

Further advice from the EA is available on measures to enhance ventilation, what to do if schools have a concern about ventilation, and on the use of CO2 monitors. 

What will happen in school if someone becomes symptomatic?

If a child should become symptomatic, schools should seek to ensure that the child is moved away from other pupils to a well ventilated area until they are able to be taken home, ensuring appropriate supervision at all times. If a member of staff has helped someone with symptoms, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. 

Schools should keep a full record of such actions and request that a parent, carer, or guardian record their acknowledgement of this action.

Further information on the management of a confirmed case remains available on the C2K exchange.

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.

Other than when a child or young person has any of the main identified COVID symptoms or a positive test, they should attend school if they are deemed well enough to do so.

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 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

Further Public health advice states that there is a relatively low risk of virus transmission associated with surface contacts in schools. Schools should therefore not seek to restrict items being brought into or out of school premises on the basis of COVID risks.

HR FAQs

Procurement FAQs

Last updated: 21 September 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.

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.

It 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 (PGNs) or get details of the contracts from EA procure and order directly from EA contractors.

To receive an iProc log in, please email iFS on ifs.queries@eani.org.uk.

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.

For staff carrying out AGPs, FFP3 masks are required. To order these, please contact Rachel Lee on Rachel.lee@eani.org.uk for further advice on fit testing.

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 and the EANI website.

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. 

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.

This contract for COVID-19 Instructional Signage (FAE-20-022) is available to view on EA Procure.

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.

Transport FAQs

Last updated: 4 January 2022

Is home to school transport operating?

Yes, but services can be disrupted at short notice because of the pandemic. Parents are reminded that the Department’s guidance is that home to school transport should only be used where there is no alternative available. Please think about active travel and check the EA website each evening for service updates. Pupils who use Translink services should check their schedule before travelling.

How do I find out if my route is operating?

Routes can be disrupted,  at very short notice, due to COVID and a shortage of drivers across the industry.  EA has a dedicated web page, Transport Updates, where we post details each evening of EA bus routes that cannot operate.  We also work with schools so they can share information with parents.  Private Operators are responsible for notifying parents if their route cannot operate.  Parents are also encouraged to follow the EA  and Translink on Facebook and Twitter.

Is social distancing required on vehicles?

Social distancing is not required on EA buses or services provided by contracted private operators. The Department of Infrastructure has advised that where it’s not possible to maintain a 1metre distance on public transport pupils should continue to take precautions to reduce the risk, such as wearing a face covering to protect others, unless exempt and/ or have a reasonable excuse not to do so, avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people and keep the time spent near others as short as possible.

How can schools help school transport to operate safely?

Schools can assist 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 transport

· Assisting communication with parents if there is disruption to bus services.

· Managing the arrival/departure of pupils.

What happens if a pupil, 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.

Is transport available for educational visits?

School transport is available for hire however is subject to driver and vehicle availability.  Schools should contact their local Transport Office to discuss requirements.

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

As from September 2021 schools are again required to sign and confirm Private Operator (TX1) forms confirming pupil attendance.

Data Protection FAQs

Last updated: 8 March 2022

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.

 Since schools returned for the 2021/22 academic year revised arrangements for the identification of close contacts in schools have been introduced.  School leaders are no longer required to respond to every COVID-19 case and identify contacts.  Instead, the Public Health Agency Contact Tracing Service will undertake a more targeted approach and will contact the school principal for assistance in certain circumstances, such as to obtain parent or staff contact information.  Visit the PHA website for the latest guidance for schools in respect of contact tracing.

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 Contact Tracing Service 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 Contract Tracing Service for this purpose.

If your school receives a request from the PHA for contact details for a parent / pupil that has specifically instructed your school not to share such information, your school should make the PHA aware of the objection which the school has received from the parent / pupil and ask the PHA to confirm if the school can still share such information with the PHA for public health reasons for the avoidance of doubt.

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.

Further Covid-19 (coronavirus) guidance for schools is available on the PHA Information for Schools, Colleges, Universities and Parents webpage and on the Covid-19 C2K page.

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 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?

At the start of the pandemic the ICO published a document How We Will Regulate During Coronavirus which explained its commitment to being a pragmatic and empathetic regulator would look like in practice, while reiterating the important role that people’s information right would continue to have.

The ICO then updated their guidance in the Summer of 2021 when they published, The ICO’s Regulatory Approach, wherein they confirmed that they understand that organisations continue to try to operate during uncertain and challenging times, and that they will take into account the context the organisations they regulate are operating in, whilst acknowledging the important role that people’s information rights continue to have. As to Regulatory Action in particular, the ICO noted that they, “will continue to act proportionately and in line with the ICO’s Regulatory Action Policy so as to balance the benefits to the public and the dissuasive effect of taking regulatory action against the effect of doing so on regulated organisations, taking into account the particular challenges being faced by organisations and the UK economy at this time.”

Therefore provided that the ICO agree that the principal cause of a delay in your School responding to an information request was indeed COVID-19, it would appear that the ICO will take this into account in terms of the extent of any regulatory action considered/taken.

Some staff may be homeworking and arrangements may 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?

Schools continue to work hard implementing a range of measures designed to reduce the spread of Covid-19.  In addition, all school staff should now have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated.  There is also now a more targeted approach to the identification of close contacts of Covid-19 cases in schools.  It is hoped that all of this will enable schools to continue providing lessons on site as normal.  However, it is still possible that some staff may need to work from home as necessary during the ongoing pandemic.  Data protection is not a barrier to increased and different types of homeworking. During the ongoing pandemic, staff may need to 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) 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?

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.

How long can we keep personal data collected for contact tracing?

ICO guidance states only for as long as it’s needed.

Guidance on how long that will be is provided by the public health authorities in whichever part of the country you live in. It is usually recommended that you retain this information for 21 days. Once that period is up you must dispose of the information securely. That means shredding paper records or permanently deleting digital files, for example.

The only reason you should keep the data for longer is if you would usually do so in line with other sector specific guidelines.

Vulnerable Young People Contingency Plan

Last updated: 15/04/2022