Education Restart

We have developed a dedicated section for schools on the EA website that provides Frequently Asked Questions, information and guidance for schools to support Education Restart.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

HR FAQs

Guidance on Supporting Staff to Return to School

How do I deal with a situation where a member of staff who does not wish to return to work due to living with a vulnerable person?

If a member of staff is living with someone who is considered clinically vulnerable, the current Public Health Agency (PHA) advice does not require them to self-isolate therefore they are able to attend work.   

It may be the case where a member of staff living with a vulnerable person, feels they cannot return to work in any capacity at present despite the assurances and appropriate measures being put in place by the school. In this case the staff member and Principal/line manager should consider options which may include reduced hours/days, annual leave (if the contract of employment allows for this) or unpaid leave as appropriate.

If however, despite all of the above arrangements and assurances being put in place, the member of staff still does not come to work or avail of the options available then HR advice should be sought from the employing Authority.

Can you please explain what is meant by ‘Clinically Vulnerable’ and ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’?

Clinically Vulnerable individuals are considered to be at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions as set out in the staying at home and away from others (social distancing) guidance) and have been advised to take extra care in observing social distancing and should work from home where possible. Principals/line managers should endeavour to support this, where possible, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.

‘Clinically Vulnerable’ includes

  • Staff with specific underlying conditions
  • People over the age of 70 and
  • those who are pregnant

Click here for a more complete breakdown and further information.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable is a category of individual who have been strongly advised not to work outside the home and should follow PHA advice on shielding. Shielding is a measure to protect clinically extremely vulnerable people by minimising interaction with others. People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but as of the 5 June can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing.

With effect from 1 August 2020 “Shielding” will be paused and full details will be provided by PHA and this guidance will be further updated at that time. 

Current restrictions are in place with the aim of reducing social contact with those outside of the household.  This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 from coming into contact with the virus.  Staff who fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable category will have received a letter from the NHS/GP and should continue to follow Government advice. The Government is regularly monitoring its position on clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Click here for a complete breakdown and further information.

You should note that Government guidance published on the 11 May 2020 called for particular attention to be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals. Such staff should have an individual risk assessment conducted before the most appropriate course of action is determined. Click here for Individual Risk Assessment Appendix A1.

I have a pregnant teacher. Can I ask her to continue to work?

Pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution however, there is no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19. 

Clinically vulnerable individuals have been advised to take extra care in observing social distancing and should work from home where possible. Principals/line managers should endeavour to support this, where possible, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.

If pregnant women cannot work from home they should take extra care in the work place observing social distancing, staying 2 metres away from others wherever possible, although the individual may choose to take on a role that does not allow for this distance if they prefer to do so. If they have to spend time within 2 metres1 of other people, Principals/line managers should undertake a risk assessment with the individual to assess and control measures to reduce risk. They should, if necessary, be offered the safest available onsite roles.

Pregnancy and Risk

Pregnant women have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) as a precaution. This is because pregnant women can sometimes be more at risk from viruses like flu. At present it is not clear if this happens with COVID-19 but because it is a new virus, it is safer to include pregnant women in the moderate-risk group.

[1]    Based on current PHA Guidance.

The Stormont Executive has agreed to reduce social distancing in Northern Ireland from 2 metres to 1 metre with restrictions from 29 June. The Stormont Executive agreed that people should keep 2 metres distance where possible, but from 29 June can come within no less than 1 metre where appropriate mitigations can be made.

If teachers are expected to start work on 17 August does this mean they will have to work more days/hours in the year?

​​​​​​A teacher will not be directed to work on more than 195 days or 1265 hours in the academic year as a direct consequence of the change to the restart date.

This was confirmed in a joint letter of agreement issued by TNC on 23 June 2020 and will remain extant for the period of the academic year 20/21.

This is applicable to all teachers in grant-aided schools in Northern Ireland.

If non-teaching staff who are employed on a term time contract of employment commence work prior to September 2020 will they receive payment?

Yes non-teaching staff will be paid for all hours work at their contractual rate of pay.

Some of my teachers are not available to start on 17 August as they will be away on holiday. Can I insist that they come in or take unpaid leave?

Teachers, Principals and Vice-Principals who have pre-booked holidays or have other commitments that were arranged prior to 18 June 2020, (the official notification of a change in the start date for the academic year 20/21) shall be allowed to honour those commitments without detriment.

Staff have been advised to notify their holiday arrangements to their Principal or line manager by 30 June 2020, in order to inform workforce planning.

A teacher has advised me they will not be available to start on 17 August due to holiday quarantine arrangements. Can I insist that they come to work in the school?

No quarantine arrangements are a legal requirement and staff cannot attend the workplace during the quarantine period.

Teachers, Principals and Vice-Principals who have pre-booked holidays arranged prior to the announcement of quarantine arrangements and who may be required to isolate after travelling abroad, will be required to work from home during any isolation period.

Staff likely to be affected by quarantine arrangements should ensure that they notify their Principal or line manager by 30 June 2020.

It is appreciated that the situation concerning travelling outside the Common Travel Area is uncertain at this time and official advice may change. Teachers, Principals and Vice-Principals should ensure they follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice regarding foreign travel.

Some of my Classroom Assistants have advised me they will not be available to start on 17 August due to holiday quarantine arrangements. Can I insist that they come to work in the school?

No. Individuals and employers must adhere to quarantine guidelines which are valid at the time.  In line with the NJC guidelines however, the school leader / manager must first consider whether working from home is practical and feasible.  Should this not be the case, the manager should consider whether the employee can be redeployed during the quarantine period to work which can be completed at home.  Where this is not possible, managers can require staff who are quarantining and unable to work at home to:

  • take additional paid annual leave (from their usual leave allowance).
  • take unpaid annual leave.
  • take special leave (paid/unpaid).
  • make up the 14 days’ leave over a period of time, so they do not incur a drop in pay

These arrangements should be clear, understood and agreed by both parties before the employee embarks on leave that will require quarantine.

Staff should continue to reference government guidance and be aware that some guidance may change over the course of the summer period.

I have completed a restart plan for my school but in order to comply with social distancing I will need additional staff to cover additional supervision requirements. How can I get additional staff and also will any additional finances made available to c

It is understandable that in some cases additional staff may be required in order for schools to meet the requirements for restarting in August.  There is a number of options available to School Leaders e.g. offer temporary additional hours to current staff or employ additional staff on a temporary basis.  NISTR can be utilised for the engagement of substitute teachers if required.

DE recognises the financial impact the current COVID-19 pandemic is having on the education sector, and will continue, in conjunction with the Education Authority, to assess the financial impact of COVID-19 responses on grant aided schools. Once the detailed plans are established for the re-opening of schools, the resulting funding requirements will be further assessed.

If a staff member is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 as Principal what advice should I give to them regarding testing?

Staff who exhibit any symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not attend school.  The N.I. Executive has rolled out a Test and Trace and Protect strategy designed to control the spread of COVID-19 and symptomatic staff are expected to follow the advice and obtain a test for COVID-19.

Testing is available for school staff or a member of their household (whoever is displaying the symptoms) - https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/test-type

I have staff with caring responsibilities and they may difficulty returning to school at the end of August. What options are available to assist?

As Principal you should establish what the caring responsibilities entail and how they impact on the staff members working pattern.

Caring responsibilities may include; the care of children in the household, the care of vulnerable adults or children in the household, the need to support vulnerable members of the family outside of the household with essentials for example, food and medicine deliveries.

The Northern Ireland Executive announced the publication of the Childcare Recovery Plan on 18 June. The Childcare Recovery Plan aims to restore the childcare sector to pre-COVID-19 capacity levels as quickly and safely as possible. The aim of the plan is to ensure more parents can access childcare. School re-opening plans and the availability of childcare is inextricably linked, and work is ongoing to build the capacity of the childcare sector as quickly as possible.

Staff should seek to investigate and source all childcare options available to them in order that they can attend school when it restarts. In an emergency situation staff can apply for emergency carer leave should childcare arrangements breakdown. 

It is understood that there may be some staff who still find it difficult to return to school in their usual capacity due to caring responsibilities. In such circumstances they are expected to communicate effectively and regularly with their Principal/line manager about any concerns. If a member of staff is wishing to consider flexible working and/or a corresponding reduction in hours staff should make a formal request in accordance with the relevant HR policies.

A member of staff has claimed that they have a medical condition which prevents them from returning to school. Am I entitled to request information on what the medical condition is?

The Principal/line manager and employing Authority are entitled to request and be provided with evidence to confirm medical conditions and inform, where necessary, risk assessments.

The Guidance on Supporting Staff to Return to School refers to individual risk assessments. Where can I get these risk assessments?

There are 4 individual risk assessment templates and guidance on how to complete these on the DE web site - https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-supporting-staff-return-schools

Why is an individual risk assessment required?

By carrying out an individual risk assessment the Principal can consider the requirements of the vulnerable member of staff and decide what control measures can be put in place to minimise the risk to the member of staff. The Principal should discuss with the member of staff the details in the risk assessment.

It is unlikely that generic assessments will be totally appropriate for each individual employee, there may be different circumstances pertinent to each case. They should therefore be modified for each individual making that assessment specific to their medical vulnerability and specific area of work.

The information on an individual risk assessment should be regarding as highly confidential and appropriate security/safeguards should be in place to ensure confidentiality.

Finance FAQs

Will my school get additional funding to support the Restarting Education Programme?

The current financial context continues to be very challenging. The Education Authority (EA) recognises that this will be exacerbated as schools seek to operationalise the Restarting Education Guidance in their individual context.

There is presently no funding in the Education budget for additional costs that may be necessary in relation to schools restarting. EA in conjunction with the Department of Education (DE), will assess the potential costs for the Restart Programme and, subject to the Education Minister’s views, the Department will engage with the Department of Finance to highlight these pressures at the earliest opportunity.

In the interim, schools have minimum standards to work to within the current ‘Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance’ and should maximise their resources before highlighting anything additional.

I want to be able to identify these costs separately. How do I do that?

Controlled and Maintained Schools

All costs will be charged to the schools delegated budget, but the process of using a function code as detailed below will allow all spend to be tracked separately.

Goods and Services

Schools are reminded that they have minimum standards to work to within the current Northern Ireland Re-Opening Schools Guidance and should maximise their resources before highlighting anything additional.

Within iProcurement once you have added all the items required to your Shopping Cart, which is “D” Delegated Expenditure, click on ‘View Cart and Checkout’.  Click in the ‘Function Code’ field and key in the function code 82093 for COVID19.

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 EA website https://www.eani.org.uk/iprocurement-information-guides

Teaching Staff

Permanent teachers will be receiving normal pay so it is not expected that additional hours would be required in the majority of cases. If these are required they should be processed through the Department of Education payroll team in Waterside House on a TR269 form stating code 7768.

Temporary teachers booked through NISTR should be booked against alpha code CV.

Non-teaching staff

If staff work additional hours or overtime due to Restarting Education please add them into the additional hours or overtime field in your timesheet, and in the comment box note that these are to be coded to function code 8890. 

 

Grant Maintained Integrated and Voluntary Grammar Schools

All costs will be charged to the school and a mechanism of recording the information separately should be developed.

How do I identify these costs?

For controlled and maintained primary and post primary schools in the Budget and Expenditure tab of your monthly reports there is an option to choose function code 82093 (see below).

Although different codes have been used for staffing this is just the administrative process required for different systems but all of these codes will be reported through to function code 82093.

This will identify what element of your schools spend directly relates to COVID19 and restarting education.

Image: Budget and Expenditure tab of your monthly reports

A report of these costs can be issued to nursery schools if requested.

As EA do not record expenditure for Voluntary Grammar and GMI schools you will need to adopt your own method of recording and reporting these costs.

Admissions FAQs

Pre-School, Primary and Post Primary Admissions procedures

The Education Authority Admissions Service processed 75,000+ applications for the school year 2020-2021 by the closing dates:-

28 April 2020   Pre-School Stage 1 (Target Only)

28 April 2020   Primary 1

3 June 2020    Year 8 Post Primary

8 June 2020    Pre-School Stage 2 (Target/Penultimate)

EA staff and pre-schools/schools were in the midst of the admissions procedures when they were faced with many challenges due to COVID-19 from March 2020.  Everyone continued to meet deadlines whilst working remotely and developing innovated measures in order to continue to deliver the admissions procedure for 2020-2021.

The EA also, due to many pre-schools/schools working on a restrictive basis continued to ensure after the admissions procedures had closed that parents, who still needed to make application, were able to do so.

Making decisions on new applications or recalling from waiting list

We ask those schools or playgroups, who have new applications to consider, to make appropriate arrangements for timely decisions to be made.

The Education Authority (EA) acknowledges that during these exceptional circumstances some schools or playgroups have and may continue to encounter logistical limitations or other difficulties or having to make alternative arrangements for those involved in admission decisions e.g. using Skype or telephoning conferencing to continue to make timely decisions on applications. 

IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION - Compliance with GDPR

In all cases you should comply with current GDPR regulations.  Reminder GDPR information can be accessed here.

If the EA Admissions service still needs to communicate with pre-school/schools, how will they do this?

For general communications:

  • Using the general distribution email we hold and have been using for your pre-school/school; or
  • Via the EA Website.
  •  

For pupil related information we will continue to exchange applicant and other supporting documents as necessary:

  • To schools (connected to C2k) through AnyComms+ (guidance on how to access both within and outside school is available on the Digital Hub and C2K Exchange EN169).
  • To nursery schools and playgroups via your school portal email address.

For any other communications we will send to your normal school or playgroup email account.

Please regularly check the communication channels identified above for any information that we may have sent you. 

If I still need to access my school network and/or the school portal for online admissions, how do I do this?

For a Pre-School/Primary School the School Portal, as a web-based system, can be accessed from any location (link available on EA Digital Admissions Hub).  As the Pre-School and Primary Admissions Procedures are now closed you will only be able to view applications or print reports now.  Any updates for a child’s record should be emailed as applicable to preschooladmissions@eani.org.uk or primaryadmissions@eani.org.uk

For access to your school network we understand that schools connected to C2k are guided by Information Sheets ENO24 Accessing MySchool Outside School and ENO88 Accessing SIMS from Home. These are available on C2k Exchange. If you feel you need support to access your C2k school network please refer to Information Sheet EN088 or contact the C2k Service Desk for further advice on 08706 011666.

For Nursery Schools and Playgroups, if you are not able and need to access your network, email account and/or school portal email account (if different), anywhere else other than at your own setting, you should let us know immediately by emailing preschooladmissions@eani.org.uk

Placement notifications for Pre-School / Primary 1 / Year 8 Post Primary?

The EA as previously communicated made arrangements for the close of each of the admissions procedures to issue notification of placement letters to parents/guardians.  75,000+ letters were issued by the EA.

Where you now make a decision on a new application to offer a place to a child you can contact the parent/guardian directly. 

Where you are in a position to recall a child because a place has become available you can contact the parent/guardian directly, but for pre-school, firstly contact the EA Pre-School Admissions Office. 

In all cases where there is a change to a child’s record e.g. address, you should contact the respective EA Admissions Office.

What did the EA include in the placement letters that were issued to parents/guardians on behalf Board of Governors and Management Committees?

The letter outlined the application outcome, provided information on the appeals process and linked the parent/guardian to the EA website for more information.  

In advising the parent/guardian that their child had been offered a place, all letters advised, that for a small number of schools or playgroups the offer of a place may be conditional on a parent/guardian providing the school or playgroup with verifying information in line with their published admissions criteria and that any school or playgroup in this position, will be in touch with parent(s)/guardian(s) when they are able to do so.

The letter also advised a parent/guardian that they could communicate their acceptance or non-acceptance of the offer of a place by emailing the school or playgroup and where not accepting the offer, to copy their email to the respective Admissions Office.  

The EA Digital Admissions updates 7, 8 and 9 as previously issued are viewable on the EA Digital Admissions Hub.

Were parents/guardians given a timescale to advise pre-schools/schools of their acceptance or decline of an offer?

In the letter from the EA a parent/guardian was asked to email a school/playgroup their acceptance or decline of the offer and where they declined the offer to copy to the relevant EA Admissions Office.  There was no timescale given in the letter.
As you were going to be receiving the responses from parents/guardians each school/playgroup was then able to use their discretion as to how to follow up any outstanding responses in advance of the start of the new academic year.

If the parent/guardian did not receive their letter due to postal delays how can they find out the outcome of their application?

The EA would hope that the parents/guardians whom they wrote to on behalf of schools/playgroups would have received at this stage their notification of placement.
In addition to issuing letters the EA had opened the Citizen Portal on the 29 April 2020 to allow parents/guardians who had applied online for Pre-School or Primary 1 in January 2020 to view the outcome of the application.
For all admissions procedures parents were able to contact the EA Admissions Helpdesk. In addition to this for the post primary placement notifications, primary school principals provided support in advising parents of the outcome of their application.  Parents who have only made an application now will be advised by the school/playgroup directly. 

The Board of Governors or Management Committee were only in a position to issue a conditional offer for the child as the offer was subject to receipt of verifying documents, how will I obtain these documents to finalise the offer of a place?

When advising the parent/guardian that their child has been offered a place, all letters indicated, that for a small number of schools or playgroups the offer of a place may be conditional on a parent/guardian providing the school or playgroup with verifying information in line with their published admissions criteria and that any school or playgroup in this position, will be in touch with parent(s)/guardian(s) when they are able to do so.

Schools or playgroups in this position will need to make their own arrangements taking into account how they can do this in line with any GDPR requirements or indeed the current PHA guidance on social distancing.  These are challenging times whilst you continue to make arrangements for your admissions intake and it is recommended that all guidance is followed.  You could make arrangements to receive the information securely, whether by post or email from the parent(s)/guardian(s).

I need to access information from the School Portal for Pre-School Stage 1 or Primary 1 admissions, can I still do this?

As mentioned above you will continue to be able to view and print reports should you need to, but you will not be able to allocate or refuse places.
Any update for a child’s application should be communicated by email to the respective EA Admissions Office.

Our Pre-School setting offers a morning and afternoon session, when do I advise a parent/guardian which session their child has been placed in?

Pre-School legislation enables parents to list full-time or part-time preferences, it does not recognise morning and afternoon sessions as preferences therefore the placing of a child in a morning or afternoon session is not part of the preference based admissions process.

If this relates to the provision offered in your pre-school and you still need to advise parents you can make the necessary arrangements to inform a parent/guardian when you are able to do so. 

A parent/guardian has informed our school/playgroup of a change of address – who do I need to tell?

For Pre-School/Primary the Applicant and Pupil Details Correction Form (Accessible on the Digital Admissions Resource Hub) can be forwarded to primaryadmissions@eani.org.uk or preschooladmissions@eani.org.uk as appropriate.   Post Primary Admissions can be contacted on postprimaryadmissions@eani.org.uk

If you had not previously notified EA of a change or a parent has since advised you of a change, you should now email the above mailboxes with the details.

Will Covid-19 have an impact on the School Admissions Appeals Process?

Recent legislation has been passed to allow appeals to take place via live audio/video link.  The EA Admissions Service have been working hard investigating and making preparations in relation to how and when it can hold appeals and as part of the preparations appellants were emailed to advise on the options available to conduct their appeal this year i.e. through Microsoft Teams, at an EA Venue or opt not to appear in person. Relevant schools were also contacted.

Parents/guardians will be contacted by the Education Authority when their appeal has been scheduled and will be given 5 working days written notice of the date, time and arrangements of the hearing.  Schools will also be contacted.

Further information on appeals is available on our website https://www.eani.org.uk/parents/admissions/admissions-appeals

If you have any further queries about the appeals process please contact our Admissions Helpdesk on 028 9598 5595.

Parents/Guardians may want to contact our school or playgroup to enquire how the published admissions criteria was applied to their child.

As standard procedure when informing a parent/guardian of their right to appeal in accordance with the school admissions appeals procedure, they are advised that they may wish to contact the school which has not selected their child for admission to discuss the reason why he/she was not offered a place, so as to assist them in deciding whether to appeal the decision.  In accordance with the published admissions criteria, it is only the Board of Governors and/or its selected admissions committee, who can advise a parent/guardian how the criteria was applied to their child.

There is no right of appeal against the decision to refuse a child admission in a voluntary/private playgroup, but as the Management Committee are responsible for applying its published admissions criteria if oversubscribed with applications for funded places available, a parent/guardian is advised to make contact with the respective playgroup, if they wish to find out why their child was refused a funded place.

A parent/guardian will be directed to the EA website to find contact details of schools/playgroups, therefore, you should endeavour to make arrangements for parental enquiries to be dealt with as appropriate.

A parent/guardian may want to contact our school or playgroup to find out where their child is on our waiting list?

Where a waiting list is in place it is only the school or playgroup who can advise a parent/guardian as to what their waiting list policy is and as applicable, the child’s position on that list.

A parent/guardian will be directed to the EA website to find contact details of schools/playgroups, you should endeavour to make arrangements for parental enquiries to be dealt with as appropriate.

Is it anticipated that the 2020-2021 academic year will still be at the beginning of September?

The Department of Education have published ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Education Restart’ guidance and schools and playgroups should consider this guidance when making arrangements for children returning to education.

DE Guidance - Pre-School Education Guidance for Re-Opening Settings – Published 23 June 2020

DE Guidance – Re-Opening Schools Guidance ‘New School Day’ – Published 19 June 2020

When should we contact parents/guardians about induction arrangements, collation of data collection information (if applicable); or uniform information?

Schools and Playgroups should take the necessary decisions in line with the Department of Education guidance on ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Education Restart’.

How will a parent/guardian know how to make contact with our school or playgroup?

The EA will be directing parents/guardians to its website to find this information https://www.eani.org.uk/search-schools.

Would it be advisable for our school or playgroup to have a notice on our website or have an autoreply message on our email account to advise parents/guardians of any contingency contact arrangements due to the exceptional COVID-19 circumstances?

Whilst this is a matter for each school and playgroup to make their own decisions, and many of you may have this already in place, we would recommend this in line with good customer service practice i.e. if there is a change to normal business.  This could be done through a number of forms of communications e.g. whether diverting telephones or providing a voicemail with an option to leave a message and making arrangements to check these as regularly as you can, or by accessing your school/playgroup emails remotely or providing an auto message such as:-

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic we are working on a restrictive basis. Your email will be attended to as soon as practically possible.

You may also wish to prepare any required communications for parents taking account of the Department of Education guidance on ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) Education Restart’.

Are parents/guardians aware to be mindful that due to Covid-19 some schools/playgroups may be working on a restrictive basis but will endeavour to respond to enquiries?

Yes, parent/guardians are reminded that during this unprecedented time there may be some changes to normal business and to have patience when making contact.

Update on entering the children’s details on SIMS (Primary or Nursery Unit)

We had previously advised that we had been liaising with our software provider to develop an automatic link to upload pupil details to SIMS. We acknowledge your patience while development work on this area has been taking place.
We has previously reported that C2k and EA, having conducted testing of the file transfer facility, were not satisfied with the current process.

Unfortunately, it will not be possible to offer this facility to schools for 2020-2021 admissions. Schools should, if not already done, key pupil details into SIMS and refer to the C2k guidance ‘Admissions Procedures Primary 2020’ which is available on C2k Exchange. As advised this work did not have to be completed prior to issue of placement letters but rather can be completed in advance of the pupil’s start date.

Who can I contact about the admissions procedure if I have a query?

Should you have any queries or need support the EA Admissions staff continue to be contactable as follows:-

Telephone Number 028 9598 5595 or by emailing

preschooladmissions@eani.org.uk 

primaryadmissions@eani.org.uk 

postprimaryadmissions@eani.org.uk

Health and Safety FAQ’s

FAQs in support of the DENI documentNORTHERN IRELAND RE-OPENING SCHOOLS GUIDANCE NEW SCHOOL DAY’ can be accessed here.

How should I layout my classroom to ensure appropriate social distancing?

Please refer to the ‘Classroom Layout Social Distancing - DE Guidance New School Day- Classroom Layout 1’ which can be accessed here or Layout 2 which can be accessed here.

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?

The EA are aware of this issue and is collaborating with HSENI and training providers in order to rectify. It is important that you liaise with your Principal to advise them on your training requirements and if your first aid certificate has lapsed.

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. Further guidance from HSENI on the safe delivery of first aid and CPR can be accessed here.

Has the procedure for What will happen if I have to deliver CPR changed due to the COVID-19 environment?

The UK RESUS Council and HSENI recommend to only deliver CPR by chest compressions and use a defibrillator (if available) – DO NOT CARRYOUT RESCUE BREATHS. HSENI have additional first aid advice which can be accessed here.

Further advice on CPR can be accessed here.

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 accessed here.

Further advice from PHA on the recommendations for emollients can be accessed here.

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

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. 

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

The most recent guidance from the Northern Ireland Re-opening Schools guidance, New School Day, published 19 June 2020 states that:

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.

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 sanitizer is recommended if soap and water is not available in the classroom, this should be used in accordance with PHA guidance.

Will staff and pupils be provided with PPE when they return to school?

PHA and DE advise that in an educational setting, it is recommended that pupils do not require PPE and that PPE for staff is only needed in a very small number of cases. These are:

  • working with young people and pupils, whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs;
  • giving pupils medication;
  • some cleaning duties;
  • supervision of a pupil who is symptomatic.

When PPE is used, it is essential that it is used properly. Training on the donning and doffing of PPE is required and can be accessed here.

Staff requiring PPE will be supplied by the line managers.

Further advice on PPE can be accessed here.

What PPE is required by classroom assistants who work side by side with pupils to support their learning, where they cannot socially distance to fulfil this role?

PHA have advised that there is no requirement for classroom assistants to wear PPE even if they are less than 1 metre from a child (supporting learning) unless they are involved in intimate care or sitting with a young person who is sitting and waiting to go home.

Further PPE advice for staff working with pupils with complex medical need can be accessed here.

 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. Principals can access relevant generic risk assessment documents on the C2K platform. 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.

Depending on personal circumstances, staff may require individual risk assessments. The DENI document ‘Supporting Staff to Return to Work’ provides comprehensive guidance on the categories of employee and can be accessed here.

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

How will the school achieve the social distancing requirements?

The school will have a number of strategies to ensure as much as possible that the social distancing requirement are met. The aim is to increase separation, the default position is that adults, pupils and young people should aim to maintain 1m distance, where a protective bubble strategy is in place. The school will also consider decreased interaction, pupils should be kept in a small group (‘Protective Bubble’) to decrease interaction. Other strategies may include staggered start, finish, breaks and lunch times. While travel in corridors is viewed as low risk, schools should encourage a ‘one way’ system to maintain distancing. Parents and carers should be discouraged from congregating at school gates. Further social distancing advice from DE can be accessed here.

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.

What will happen in school if someone becomes symptomatic?

Please follow the advice detailed in the DE document NORTHERN IRELAND RE-OPENING SCHOOLS GUIDANCE NEW SCHOOL DAY’ which can be accessed here.

Procurement FAQs

Can I raise orders for cleaning materials/PPE through the Distribution Centre?

From Friday 10th July the Distribution Centre will be closed for all new orders.  Orders should now be placed via our regular procedures using the iProc store.  For any orders placed through the Distribution Centre up until COB Friday 10th July, these orders will be honoured.

If any orders for the Distribution Centre are received after this date, schools will be redirected to the iProc store to resume our regular ordering procedures.

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. 

I ordered items from the Distribution Centre, however these were not delivered due to stock shortages.  Are these orders going to be fulfilled or should I reorder via iProc?

Anything ordered on or after Monday 29th June 2020 which was not delivered due to stock shortages will be delivered ASAP as our stock replenishes.  Anything ordered before 29th June that was not delivered due to stock shortages will not be fulfilled and you should reorder via the iProc store.

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.

Here is some advice on appropriate PPE and the circumstances when it should be used.

PPE type

When is this PPE Required?

Surgical Face Masks Type IIR

Single use/disposable

Image: Disposable mask

 

  • Working with children, young people and pupils whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs;
  • Giving a pupil medication;
  • In a situation where a member of staff is supervising a pupil with symptoms of Covid-19, whilst awaiting collection from the school;
  • When administering first aid and social distancing cannot be achieved.

Face Shield or Visor

Image: Face Shield Visor

 

In a situation where there is a risk of bodily fluids coming in contact with eyes, face or mouth.

Examination Glove

Single use/disposable

Image: Examination Glove

 

  • Working with children, young people and pupils whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs;
  • Giving a pupil medication;
  • In a situation where a member of staff is supervising a pupil with symptoms of Covid-19, whilst awaiting collection from the school;
  • When administering first aid and social distancing cannot be achieved.
  • For use when cleaning down high contact surfaces.

Disposable Plastic Apron

Image: Disposable Plastic Apron

 

  • Working with children, young people and pupils whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, due to their intimate care needs;
  • Giving a pupil medication;
  • In a situation where a member of staff is supervising a pupil with symptoms of Covid-19, whilst awaiting collection from the school;
  • When administering first aid and social distancing cannot be achieved.
  • For use when cleaning down high contact surfaces.

Gowns and FFP3 Respirators will only be required in tasks involving Aerosol Generating Procedures (AGP’s).

Examples of AGP’s are:

  • Respiratory Tract suctioning
  • Manual Ventilation
  • Tracheotomy or Tracheostomy Procedures (insertion or removal)

 

Gown – Single Use/Disposable

Image: Gown – Single Use/Disposable

 

Respirators - Half MasksDisposable – FFP3 Valved

Image: Respirators - Half Masks – Disposable – FFP3 Valved

 

With regards to AGPs specific masks are required ie FFP3 Valved 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.

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.

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

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.

If you are a nursery school and wish to avail of EA’s contracted suppliers you will be provided with details of the suppliers for you to directly place your orders.  EA will advise these suppliers that invoices should be sent directly to the nursery for payment.  PPE and cleaning consumables should be used in line with the Health and Safety and the ‘New School Day’ guidance documents.

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.

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 (where available) and cancel the outstanding items.  Where there is no other contracted supplier contact procurement services who will provide further advice.

What PPE & cleaning material consumables will EA cover the cost for?

There is presently no funding in the Education budget for additional costs that may be necessary in relation to schools restarting.  The Education Authority, in conjunction with the Department, will assess the potential costs for the Restart Programme and, subject to the Education Minister’s views, the Department will engage with the Department of Finance to highlight these pressures at the earliest opportunity.

In the interim, schools have minimum standards to work to within the current NI Re-Opening Schools Guidance and should maximise their resources before highlighting anything additional.

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.

We require extra desks to facilitate the splitting of classes into protective bubbles, can we procure these extra desks through EA? If so, will the cost be met centrally?

The EA has several contracts in place that can be used through iProc to source these items.  To find these supplies please search iProc under ‘furniture and desks’.  It is essential however, that before additional items are purchased schools should focus on making the best available use of existing space and equipment including desks.

This is a very fluid situation and therefore the restart arrangements reflect the current position.  Schools should put arrangements in place that are flexible and can be amended quickly should the position change.

There is presently no funding in the Education budget for additional costs that may be necessary in relation to schools restarting.  Schools should therefore focus on making the best available use of their existing space and resources.

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 Government Guidance.

This signage, specific to the school setting, is available to purchase through the EA’s iProcurement (iProc) Ordering System and includes the following:

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

Should I raise orders for educational/school trips/ swimming lessons etc.?

No. All trips should be cancelled until further guidance is available. No new requisitions or orders should be raised.  Any outstanding orders for trips that did not happen should be cancelled by emailing procurement@eani.org.uk

Should I book and raise orders for conference/room facilities?

The EA's advice is that no order for conference/room facilities should be raised.

Should I raise orders/requisitions for travel?

No. There should be no non-essential travel for business purposes outside of Northern Ireland. Orders/requisitions for travel should not be raised until further advice is provided.

How can I can support businesses in this challenging climate?

By goods receipting 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.

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.

Resources

Last updated: 10/07/2020