Further update on Residential Visits

Further to today’s Welsh Government announcement, we have received the following update from AHOEC/OEAP Cymru:

“We (AHOEC/OEAP Cymru) met with the education team from WG this morning to cover some of the finer details and discuss what they are planning to publish as guidance. There are two headlines concerning educational visits, but they have a knock-on effect on accommodation rules so, therefore, apply to both school groups from Wales and those from England (or elsewhere in the UK) travelling to Wales for the purposes of outdoor education residentials: 

  • Primary school groups will be allowed to go on outdoor education residentials – there will be some finer details on who/how face coverings may be needed (as the law still applies to over 11-year-olds in Wales), but as we shared before, meal times, social spaces, classrooms etc. are considered organised activities so can accommodate class bubbles. In order to make this happen the law on accommodation has had to be amended so this means the guidance for Welsh schools changes, and the accommodation laws for visitors to Wales changes (but only for the specific purposes of outdoor education residential visits – we may need a definition of what is an outdoor education residential but this exists already from the sector-specific ERF).
  • Providers and school clients/advisors are expected to work together to maintain the integrity of the bubble and provide a risk management process for their particular setting that is appropriate for their group’s context. This will include the use of parent volunteers/individuals outside the contact group. The key here being a discussion on accommodation arrangements to ensure safety and wellbeing of all members of the group. It is unlikely there will be a specific number of children or restrictions on dorm sharing as this is part of the individual consideration for each provider. A good starting point would be the Covid Safe operating processes – OE centres, LAs and schools should exercise their expert judgement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff and pupils, taking into account local circumstances. Planning should consider this guidance in the local context. Thereafter, reviewing risk assessments and adapting standard operating procedures to minimise the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. These should be implemented consistently and robustly across the OEC’s operation, including both facilities and educational procedures and staff. If you are working with multiple groups (bubbles) on one site, then you will need to explain/demonstrate how you can maintain the integrity of the individual bubbles (which will impact logistics in terms of kit, accommodation and facilities, and staffing).

“The rules for adults (i.e. visiting school staff) and secondary school children remain at single occupancy per room for the moment, but this is a big step to getting residentials operating again. OEAP Cymru will update the national guidance (section 4.4k) in line with the publication of the WG guidance on Monday. We asked also about the guidance for youth work (which many people will deal with in the summer holidays) and the team will update us on this next week – we highlighted that start then stop process would not be helpful or financially viable for many providers and that they need to operate through the school holidays. We’ll give you more on this when we know more.

“The intention from WG is to publish this guidance on the web on Monday morning but this should hopefully give you a positive end to the week.”

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