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Schools: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 185855, tabled on 22 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools have claimed Government grant funding for increased infection control and prevention measures.

Answered on

28 April 2021

The Department has worked closely with Public Health England (PHE) to develop guidance based on the ‘system of controls’ that are required in schools to effectively reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Maintaining enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, is one element of the system of controls that schools are putting in place to reduce risks.

The guidance includes information on the enhanced cleaning measures that should be in place in schools and can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/schools-coronavirus-covid-19-operational-guidance#system-of-controls.

PHE has also issued detailed guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings, which can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.

Implementing the system of controls in line with a wider risk assessment creates an inherently safer environment for staff and pupils. The Department continues to work with PHE to ensure that these measures are based on the latest medical and scientific advice. We have always been clear that we are committed to continuing to update these measures to ensure that we reduce risks as far as possible.

The Department continues to provide information to the sector on the guidance, and any changes to it, through regular departmental communications. We also continue to work with the sector to understand the impact of the system of controls on staff, pupils, and parents.

Whilst we do not have a grant specifically for infection control and prevention measures, we have provided additional funding to schools to help them to remain open and safe. Schools have continued to receive their core funding throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, regardless of any periods of reduced attendance, as part of the three-year increase to core funding.

Through the Exceptional Costs fund, schools were able to claim for three specific categories of additional spend between March to July 2020, including additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. We have paid schools £138 million for all claims within the published scope of the fund.

The Department has also made over £100 million available to support secondary schools, colleges, and specialist settings deliver onsite testing, and in doing so, break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in schools and colleges. The Education and Skills Funding Agency make these payments automatically and retrospectively, with no requirement to make a claim to receive the funding for Test and Trace reported testing.