Coronavirus (COVID-19): Running empty/ low occupancy school sites

The education sector has entered a phase never experienced before, with significantly empty/low occupancy arrangements during what ordinarily would be term time, and in the Easter holidays, many school sites remaining open to staff and/or students. In these strange times, as well as following the government guidance, school estates managers will be thinking of the need to keep the running of the site compliant.

Across the sector, buildings and grounds will still need to be looked after; but it will be “Business Unusual”.

Things that many of those who are responsible for school estates management will have been thinking about in recent weeks:

  1. Fire risk assessment and emergency procedures updated to reflect current building use
  2. Legionella risk assessment review and controls such as drain downs and outlet flushing
  3. Heating set to frost protection or low temperature only
  4. Energy efficiency measures to shut off plant and equipment not required, lighting off etc.
  5. Lone working arrangements for staff still attending site
  6. DSE self assessments for staff working in new locations or from home
  7. First aid arrangements on site for staff still in work
  8. Opportunity for increased premises inspections as less faults reported by building occupants 
  9. Opportunities to undertake maintenance activities that usually cause disruption, bring forward works usually restricted to summer shutdown

On 24 April 2020, the Department for Education published guidance on Managing school premises, which are partially open, during the coronavirus outbreak.

This guidance can be found on the DfE website here:

In the spirit of ‘sharing practice’, we have included below some examples of the guidance and advice documents that the TTN Coordination Team have created within their own trusts in response to the COVID-19 situation. These documents are to be treated as example guidance only, to help inform your thinking. The situation is one that the sector has never experienced before, and each trust / school will have their own individual set of circumstances and issues to consider in their planning.