COVID-19 live Q&A: How to safely reopen your school

As schools prepare to welcome back pupils and staff full time, our Health & Safety and Employment Law specialists discuss some of the most pressing obstacles facing Governors and Senior Leadership Teams and how to overcome them.

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Tune in live: Friday 14th August
15:00 - 15:45

With infection rates falling, detailed plans have now been unveiled for all children and young people to return to full-time education across the UK throughout August and September.

Restrictions on group sizes will be lifted to allow this to happen; however, education providers will need to ensure that COVID-secure measures remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission in their setting. Added to this, of course, is the challenge of reintroducing your teaching and non-teaching staff, and overcoming the various employment-related issues this presents.

To support your preparations, our Head of Team & Solicitor Jane Hallas and Senior Health & Safety Consultant Scott Crichton will be hosting a free 45-minute insight and advice session to offer clear, practical advice on the urgent challenges facing school leaders, help you approach situations confidently, and enable you to plan for a smooth, safe transition.

Speaking to educational leaders every day, the pair will cover some of the issues we know to be front of mind right now, including: 

  • Dealing with anxious staff and refusals to work appropriately;
  • Managing pregnant staff and staff with disabilities;
  • Restructuring and redundancies (planning, process and notice periods);
  • For independent schools, how to change terms and conditions;
  • Handling health and safety issues raised by unions;
  • Dealing with dysfunctional management teams; and
  • Other everyday operational difficulties and managing difficult employees.

From a health and safety perspective, there has been very little relaxation of legislation or standards for schools during COVID-19. In fact, compliance has never been more important. The session will help you to understand what “reasonably practicable” steps schools should take prior to reoccupation and the vital role of risk assessment.

Plus, if there are still certain question marks around aspects of your reopening arrangements, there will also be an opportunity to put your queries to Jane and Scott for direction, clarity and reassurance.

Due to the high relevance of this topic, our last two virtual training sessions have been oversubscribed and we received hundreds of questions. Please rest assured that even if we don’t have time to answer your question during the Q&A, we will respond to you personally afterwards.

Need advice now?

Visit our free Coronavirus Advice Hub to watch our last COVID-19: Live employer Q&A on demand. Here, you can also download a range of useful resources, including helpful guidance notes, sample letters and policies, and risk assessment templates, which are updated regularly to reflect current government guidance.

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About the Hosts

Jane Hallas

Head of Team and Solicitor at Ellis Whittam

Jane qualified as a solicitor in 2009 and now works as a practising solicitor leading the Education Team at Ellis Whittam. Her team of sector specialists advise hundreds of education clients, from Multi-Academy Trusts and single academies through to independent schools, PRUs, colleges and universities, on all HR and employment-related matters.

Prior to joining Ellis Whittam, Jane qualified as a teacher and taught GCSEs, A-Levels and a range of vocational/professional courses (including BTEC, AAT, CIPD and Banking) through to lecturing at degree and master’s level. She has also worked as an examiner for A-Level boards as well as the CIPD.

Scott Crichton

Senior Health & Safety Consultant at Ellis Whittam

Scott is a Chartered Member of IOSH and a Graduate Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers and has been consulting for 18 months.

He has over 10 years’ health and safety experience across both public and private sectors and has worked with a diverse range of clients across the care, charitable, education, engineering, health, manufacturing, town councils and transportation sectors.

Talk to us: 0345 226 8393

Chester |

Woodhouse, Church Lane, Aldford, Chester CH3 6JD

Glasgow |

The Beacon, 176 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5SG

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