What to do when the Risk Assessment does not reduce the risk far enough
We have decided not to put on some activities at all this term, as we cannot either remove the hazard (transmission through contact) or the reduce the risk (the chance of transmission) enough to make us confident to proceed.
This means no Year 6 Prom, and no FOLA Fun Run in the week of Crosspool Festival. It also means pared back transition arrangements, and no new starter parent meetings in person. Any requests from parents to discuss their child's Report will be provided for on-line. Sports Day will happen - but not as a whole school and without the usual mass volunteering and spectating by parents. The arrangements for Year 6 pupils to visit their next schools have been significantly changed (a number of times).
We are still in a global pandemic, and schools are still working through guidance on how to manage hazards and risk, even though we have been here for over a year. We are now working through annual activities for the second time under restrictions. How are we managing to put them on now when we couldn't a year ago?
The idea is that the process (not the document) highlights the issues and has the writers and users work out reasonable, affordable actions that remove the hazard, reduce the risk to accpetable levels or make it plain that an activity should simply not happen.
For example, I decide I wnat to take a group of children on a river walk that will involve crossing the river. Okay if there is a bridge, not so good if it means wading across, possibly okay if there are stepping stones and the weather has been dry and I carried out a site visit to confirm the steps were dry the evening before. Just thinking about it has shown potential solutions - alternative activity, alternative route, cancellation, sustained dry weather only.
Our obvious difficulty with a virus is that we cannot remove the hazard - the virus is present and is being transmitted. Variants exist and appear more easily transmitted. The need to carry out transition work is very real, however, and to not do any (the safest option in terms of Covid-19 safety) is not an option either as too many children and families would be adversely affected. Prom is a great moment, but is not essential. We tried plan after plan but have not come up with one that satisfies all involved so we have shelved ideas for now. The same measure applies tot he Fun Run - we cannot prevent groups gathering and mixing, and could be accused of enabling it, so a cancellation is sensible. (Yes, I know parkrun is to restart - but look at their organisational systems to make them 'safe' and you will see thinsg we cannot do.) We are not having teachers come in from other schools to work with whole classes unless essential - so a delay in the return of Mandarin teaching, for example.
We are very much risk aware and not risk averse - we appreciate that risk exists in all we do, but we have to be assusred that all stakeholders will be reassured by our decisions and plans.
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