Holiday Academy Outdoor Forest school groups Covid-19 Pandemic Policy and Procedures March 2 2021
Forest school is a wonderful way for children to reconnect to the peace and calm of nature, and the Forest school leaders are super keen to be back outside and safely resuming our Forest school clubs.
We will be promoting health, happiness and wellbeing, with appropriate resources/activities and much smaller groups.
We appreciate wholeheartedly that the working environment outdoors is intrinsically safer than any other social setting and we have detailed here the formulated additional procedures which form this policy.
These procedures are informed by the current understanding of COVID-19, Government guidelines (for educational and sport settings) and our own preferred way of safely operating a Forest school club, with the children’s mental and physical welfare in mind. These are still strange times, full of anxiety, fear and, for many, grief, and we need to be mindful of the children’s experience of this, and also that the virus is still in circulation which many not displaying any symptoms.
Holiday Academy Forest school clubs take the health of children, parents and staff with the utmost seriousness. This policy will be updated as appropriate. It is in addition to our other policies and procedures (and may override them). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like any policies or complaint protocol sent to you.
The following may be subject to change if the official advice changes, so it is worth revisiting this page just before your child is due to attend.
Encouraging news is that being outdoors is the healthiest place to be during this pandemic as droplets carrying the COVID-19 virus are dispersed into the air and have less surfaces to land on. There is also research that acknowledges the positive impact of sunlight and dry air on the virus.
o Drop off point will be the same as pick up point and detailed in welcome email.
o Children must be dressed for a whole day outside as detailed in welcome email.
o Aiming to be outdoors 100% of the time, in a location that is suitable for the weather.
o All participants will be allocated a group from drop off until pick up. The groups will be nearby but socially distanced enough away and will not share any resources unless thoroughly cleaned. All resources cleaned at the end of each day
o Washing hands when required
o Using hand sanitizer at drop-off and throughout the day
o If the weather is just showers and umbrella or raincoats are adequate protection we will continue to operate. For the welfare of the children and due to not being able to travel back to the school on public transport safely, if the weather forecast is sheet rain/high winds all day we will be cancelling the session by 4pm the previous day, and then updating you by email.
If the weather is not forecast, and a surprise, we will be advising early pick up. We will not refund if we have to cancel the day due to factors beyond our control.
By paying for your booking with us you explicitly agree to the following terms, conditions and procedures, together with our general terms and conditions, and we will expect you to abide strictly by them, so please take a moment to read, understand and agree them and then explain them to your child(ren).
o Playing games and planning activities that allow for natural social distancing; whilst we can’t enforce social distancing, we can try to facilitate it.
o Maintaining social distancing rules between staff, parents and other adults.
o Doing a daily temperature check of staff and children at drop off and again at lunchtime (this will be with a non-contact thermometer). Temperatures need to be under 37.8 degrees to attend the Forest school groups.
o Drop off / pick up points to avoid a huddle, and unnecessary contact between adults:
- Please maintain social distancing while queuing to sign in and out and wear a mask covering your nose and mouth. You must be 1 metre plus from the other adults while queuing and give yourself time to wait as required.
- Please stay 1 metre plus from the leader conducting sign in/out while you are waiting, and approach when you are invited to do so. Please only have one adult attend per household.
- Try to sign in and out as quickly as possible to minimise our staff’s exposure to you.
- If you have queries about the day please wait until the end of registration and ask any questions while maintaining the recommended 1m plus distance.
- The leader will have set up a visual guide to indicate where the queue should start – please respect that and understand that some families will be strictly adhering to social distancing for personal reasons.
- For the older groups please arrive at 10:00 for 10:15am at which time registration will finish. Please pick up at 3:30 for 4pm at which time registration will finish.
- For the youngest group, please arrive promptly at 9.45am and pick up at 3pm.
o Where several children are picked up at the same time, the children will be brought to them by a member of staff.
o We will ask parents to support us by:
- Remaining distanced at drop off / pick up so a staff member will collect / bring children to them
- Having packed lunches and water bottles packed separately to children’s spare clothes rucksack; this will make it easier for children who have to carry their own. Please give a thought to too heavy lunch bags and heavy Tupperware, and difficult items to open.
- Sending their children in with a flannel to dry their hands with
- Ensuring children have sun cream applied at home, if required, that will last for the full day.
- Ensuring that the children are dressed appropriately for activities like climbing trees, weather, and temperature.
- Please bring a hat and water-proof jacket (we are sadly not lending outer clothing this holiday).
- Please take care that the footwear is weather and mud proof – this is so important!
- Ensure children know their own kit and lunch, and have every item named.
- Be available to pick up your child throughout the day if required.
It is accepted by the Department of Education that social distancing is not appropriate or possible within for younger primary aged children and therefore it is important that parents / carers and staff understand that this is not something that we will be applying other than keeping children in allocated group for the majority of the day. We may swap adults at lunchtime to lead afternoon sessions, but the children will stay in their groups.
Younger children need the support of staff both physically and emotionally and it would be detrimental to their wellbeing to attempt to implement social distancing measures. Staff may be using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if this is their choice, and definitely when we need to administer first aid to a child the staff will use a face mask or visor and gloves.
The best way to minimise the risk of infection is to ensure that it does not enter the setting in the first place and that all attendees are healthy prior to attendance, therefore in addition to our existing sickness policy the following precautions will apply throughout the pandemic;
Please be responsible when making a decision about bringing your child – bringing a child who is mildly ill, even if you are sure they are well enough to attend, could threaten the health of other children, and of our staff. It is possible to have a common cold and COVID-19 at the same time. Our staff are required to self-isolate at the first sign of any symptoms, so if you send a poorly child – even if you are convinced that they do not have COVID-19 – you risk us having to cancel all future sessions for this season because our staff will be unable to work, and having the virus traced back to your family.
No admittance to any person that is displaying symptoms of the virus; this includes children, staff, parents/carers dropping off / picking up. Recognised symptoms are:
o A new persistent cough
o A temperature at or above 37.8 degrees celsius
o A loss or change to sense of taste & smell
o Children / staff are not to attend if anyone in their household has symptoms
o Children not to attend if they have had temperature/fever reducing medication prior to attendance such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
o Not giving medication within the setting apart from where it is needed to manage long term health conditions (E.g Asthma inhalers/Epipens)
o Children / staff not to attend who have coughs or cold symptoms as this increases the chances of the virus being spread (again, it is possible to have a cold and Covid-19 at the same time)
Kit on the day
Food and Drink: Children must bring their own snacks, packed lunch and drink; we are unable to provide any food, cups or cutlery at this time.
Hand Hygiene: We will have a hand washing station and a pump hand sanitiser. You need to tell us if your child is allergic to the brand of hand sanitizer we use. Please pack a flannel separate from their food for them to use to dry their hands.
Disposable tissues: We recommend that children bring their own tissues as part of their kit in case they need to use them.
Masks: The UK government guidance on masks says: “Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended…. Schools and other education or childcare settings should therefore not require staff, children and learners to wear face coverings. Changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measures in controlling the spread of the virus.” We will use a face mask if we need to apply first aid.
Please do not send your child in a mask, or ask us to make sure they wear one:
If your child arrives wearing a mask, or if you insist that your child wears a mask during the session, we will assume that they are infectious and refuse to accept their attendance. You will not get a refund or a credit note under these circumstances.
On the day
If you must use public transport, follow the government guidelines on safe travelling.
Shielded and clinically vulnerable children and adults:
Children and adults in these categories should not attend and we make it clear in our communications with parents that if their children or any member of their household is shielding or clinically vulnerable, then they should not attend.
Parents of children attending the holiday club should tell the FS leader if their child wants to be with someone they know on the day attend, otherwise we will put children together who are similar age.
We are hoping that the toilets are open – we have camping toilet facilities which involves a tent with seat, and disposal protocol for the older children, and potty-style facilities for the younger if required. Please be aware that much of the logistics needing to be managed is due to the park drop off and extra kit the leaders are having to carry.
Should anyone display symptoms we will take the following steps to minimise risk of infection:
o If a child becomes ill whilst in our care, they will immediately be isolated with a member of staff using PPE, our usual procedures will then apply regarding contacting parents who need to be quickly available to pick up their child.
o If a child displays symptoms whilst outside the setting parents are asked to report this to the manager as soon as possible and to book a test by calling 119 and emailing the result to email@example.com
o If the test is positive the government track and trace system will then be activated as required by regulations
o That group will then be closed and all parents / staff will be informed that there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the setting and that they must socially isolate for 14 days. There is no refund under these circumstances.
o The other groups will continue to run provided it can be staffed safely, also reserve the right to close the setting if:
o Staff need to isolate and we do not have enough staff to maintain ratios and run safely.
If sessions are cancelled by Govt shut-down then all refunds will be made fully except the payment gateway fee. There will be no refund if your child has to isolate or wait for a test result, although if we can sell on the place to another child we will refund. Please appreciate how much extra admin and overhead costs we have to carry due to the pandemic.
Please can you ensure that you have read, agreed and understood this new policy and have spoken to your child so they understand how the groups may run slightly differently to ensure we all stay safe. If you are unsure about the health of your household please first call 111 to check before coming to Holiday Academy Forest school.