SCHOOLS should shift classes outside this autumn if five pupils test positive for Covid, urge education chiefs.
But the suggestion – aimed at improving ventilation – has been slated as a “total fudge and impractical”.
Mary Bousted, joint leader of the National Education Union, told the Telegraph: “It is simply absurd for the DfE to issue this advice.
“Classes cannot be taught outdoors in the wind and the rain in an English winter.”
Lord Baker, ex-education secretary, warned that moving lessons outside in the autumn was “impractical”.
In a new Department for Education document, it says schools should consider outdoor lessons if five pupils who have mixed closely test positive for Covid-19.
The document says: “At the point of reaching a threshold, education and childcare settings should review and reinforce the testing, hygiene and ventilation measures they already have in place.”
One such threshold would be met when 10 per cent of children, pupils, students or staff who mixed closely test positive within 10 days.
Another is when five pupils, students or staff are found to be infected with coronavirus within a 10-day period.
Education boffins say when these thresholds are reached, school leaders should consider “whether any activities could take place outdoors, including exercise, assemblies, or classes”.
Plus, schools should consider “ways to improve ventilation indoors, where this would not significantly impact thermal comfort”.
Schools should also carry out “one-off enhanced cleaning, focussing on touch points and any shared equipment”.
The guidance says contingency plans should allude to the “temporary” need to don face coverings.
This may include masks in communal areas and/or classrooms, for pupils, students and staff.
However there was no need for primary school pupils or youngsters in early years centres to don face coverings, it added.
The guidance was slammed as barmy by Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.
The extra action is slightly bizarre.
Geoff Barton, ASCL
He said: “The extra action is slightly bizarre in that it includes ways to improve ventilation when government advice amounts to no more than keeping open windows.
“The suggestion that schools could realistically consider holding assemblies and lessons outdoors during the autumn term, as temperatures plummet, is a total fudge on the Government’s part.”
Barton said the union was ‘concerned’ the framework was being introduced during summer hols, “with very little time for schools and colleges to update their planning.
“They are now expected to have in place plans for extra action in the event of a certain number of coronavirus cases occurring within their setting.
“This would kick in before more stringent measures that might be advised by public health experts.”
He said it would make more sense to instead “install ventilation equipment in school buildings as soon as possible”.
DfE said on Wednesday that pupils wouldn’t be forced outside in cold and rainy conditions, reported the Telegraph.
Sources said teachers would be expected to use their judgement over taking lessons outdoors.