Last updated: 25/03/20
As of 23/03/20 the UK government has announced new rules people have to follow to help tackle the nCoronavirus emergency. At this point only key workers should be leaving the house to work. This means that Forest School sessions should only be provided for the children of key workers or vulnerable people.
All else being equal, Forest School is a safer place to be than traditional school or childcare settings. At this time the FSA advises that Forest School leaders adhere to the following principles:
- Do not provide services for participants who would not ordinarily be together.
New participants should not be introduced to Forest School groups unless all members of that group are ordinarily together, for instance at school or nursery. Existing Forest Kindergarten groups should not admit new participants (if groups are to be merged, as is happening in schools and nurseries, then this should happen immediately and then they should be closed to new participants).
- You should try to limit the number of outside contacts that the group has.
‘New’ Forest School leaders and assistants should not be introduced. Similarly, Forest School leaders should think very carefully about the risk/benefit of visiting multiple schools and nurseries.
- Limit the risk of person to person infection during sessions.
- Follow NHS guidance on how to limit person to person infection.
- The Forest School session should not proceed without suitable hand washing facilities. Regular handwashing with soap and water is the best way to remove the virus from your hands and prevent person to person infection. You should build the practice of regular handwashing into your sessions. We recommend that you explore the use of a Tippy Tap.
- Alcohol gel is particularly unsuitable in a Forest School setting where hands are likely to be covered in mud and soil. It is not recommended to be used at Forest School sessions.
- Don’t allow people to share food and drink. Ask them to bring their own.
- Anyone with a high temperature or even a mild cough should NOT be attending your sessions. Anyone with a member of their household with either of these symptoms should NOT be attending your sessions. Tell them to stay away for at least 14 days.
- Limit the risk of infection outside of your Forest School sessions.
- Ensure that your clients fully understand the current government rules.
- Discourage use of public transport and minibuses to attend your Forest School sessions.
- Forest School leaders should produce Risk/Benefit assessments that relate to the nCoronavirus epidemic.
Your RBA should reflect YOUR circumstances and you must keep it up to date in these rapidly moving times. Risk to the Forest School leader, assistants, participants and wider society should be considered. For instance, those in vulnerable categories should be prevented from attending your sessions (older people and those with underlying health conditions).
Forest School Association members may access a template nCorona RBA template below (updated 25/03/20).