Updated - 5th November 2020
COVID-19 Secure Classroom Training Update - This is a live document and will be updated when new guidance is available.
We have implemented a number of new measures to ensure that the training we conduct meets the current government and regulatory guidelines. This document informs you of what to expect on attending your course.
COVID-Secure Classroom Training
When the COVID pandemic started, the UK went into a national lockdown and the impact was felt across all parts of society, business and by individuals. With the assistance of our qualification regulators, we needed to assess the impact on education and training. Whilst there was a greater awareness on the impact of secondary education and the GCSEs etc., there was also an impact on adult education. We’ve spent many hours calculating how learners were impacted by a lack of “assessments”, how assessments may be adapted and how many were delayed.
The provision of regulated qualifications also impacts first aid and safety courses. How our regulated qualifications are managed is the same as a year-long course to become a plumber or personal trainer. As such, the impact of learners not completing, or at least being delayed in their chosen qualification path needs to be taken seriously.
Our qualifications fall under the bracket of “education” for the purpose of government advice on lockdowns and what is and isn’t allowed. Therefore, during the periods of lockdown, whether regional or national, it is important to check the status of education to determine whether courses should progress.
At the current time (04/11/2020) the four governments of the UK have, in their strictest levels of lockdown, the provision that learners should be able to access education, in some cases specifically for the purpose of achieving a qualification. The blanket provision that delivery of training qualifications for the purpose of education can be used in line with the purpose of the lockdown.
For example, a learner needing to achieve a level 2 in food safety because they are starting a business offering food deliveries is important, however, someone who has an interest in food safety wanting to attend a course for the social aspect may not be as important.
Because the governments have set out a provision for education, it should not detract from the fact that lockdown rules are in place to reduce the risk of infection. Therefore:
- The amount of face-to-face interaction should be kept to a minimum, however, the HSE/DfE first aid ratios for online/virtual and face-to-face training still need to be observed. This also applies to other first aid courses that meet HSE requirements such as Outdoor first aid and Forest School first aid.
- Social distancing should be a key part of all courses.
- Practical assessments can be kept to a minimum due to working in close proximity to the casualty, but learner competence must be demonstrated (this includes performing rescue breaths on first aid courses)
- PPE, including 3ply masks, should be worn by all those working in close proximity assessments.
- A suitable and sufficient risk assessment should be completed before confirming course details.
Is the course necessary?
While social distancing remains in place some gatherings are unnecessary and should be avoided. If the course required is in the physical presence of learners is needed for essential/key workers to undertake their role, is critical for a business or is required to enable businesses to reopen, the course would be deemed necessary. Courses that are not necessary could be planned when restrictions are eased.
Does the employer want the course to go ahead?
If this is uncomfortable for the employer, and employees, the course should not go ahead until such time that the employer deems appropriate. The employer is responsible for maintaining their compliance with relevant legislation.
If the above criteria have been met, a risk assessment is completed involving appropriate stakeholders:
- Training provider
- Internal Quality Assurer (IQA)
The risk assessment includes an assessment of:
- Health vulnerabilities of potential attendees
- How breakouts of infection will be managed; track and trace
- Facilities available including classroom, break out areas, toilets, handwashing, traffic routes, airflow
- Cleaning schedules
- How social distancing can be maintained
- Number of learners requiring training
- Level of equipment available
The hazards and controls are recorded and retained. The findings of the risk assessment are shared with the employer and the controls agreed, particularly with reference to preventing those who should be self-isolating.
Prior to learners entering the environment, the trainer should be allowed to access the location with ample time to familiarise themselves with the location and use of controls. For example the location of the toilet, handwashing facilities and arrange the room to ensure appropriate social distancing.
As learners enter the room, the trainer may undertake additional pre-agreed checks, e.g. temperature checks, verbal checks that individuals confirm they should not be self-isolating etc.
Any learners who display symptoms or confirm they should be self-isolating will be refused from attending the training.
Should a learner or trainer develop symptoms of COVID 19 during the course they must leave the classroom. All those that have been in close contact will be advised to follow the latest government guidance.
Good infection control procedures must be followed throughout the training, this includes, but not limited to:
- Avoiding shared equipment as far as reasonably practicable
- Ensuring personal hygiene is maintained, e.g. the use of tissues or sneezing into one’s elbow etc.
- Provision of handwashing and cleansing
- Use of PPE where required
- Use of natural airflow where possible
After each course, the trainer will ensure all relevant disposable equipment is disposed of correctly.
Any reusable equipment is thoroughly disinfected before its next use. Procedures are followed should a learner inform that they have developed symptoms.
As one of the leading training organisations for First Aid Qualifications, COVID secure guidance for first aid assessments are in place.
Learners are taught and assessed to the UK Resuscitation council guidelines 2015. This includes assessment in the provision of rescue breaths.
In addition to learning the standard CPR protocols, learners are made aware of the COVID guidelines. They are not assessed on these protocols.
Where possible, learners are given their own resuscitation manikin(s). Where this is not reasonably practicable, small groups can share manikins with significant cleaning and disinfection used. Resuscitation face-shields help to reduce the risk of aerosol where manikins are shared.
Learners are assessed in placing a casualty into the recovery position. 3 ply face masks should be used when learners are in close contact and gloves should be worn if available. If they are not available, handwashing should be undertaken before and after the assessment.
Learners can demonstrate a secondary assessment using a resuscitation manikin. They will also be able to demonstrate checks of the limbs on themselves or on an appropriate training aid.
Learners will be able to demonstrate the procedure for back blows and chest/abdominal thrusts using a manikin.
Dressings and bandages
Where appropriate, learners can demonstrate certain dressings on themselves as an initial control. A learner dressing their own leg is safer than dressing another learner's arm.
Where learners are required to act as a casualty, 3 ply face masks should be worn. Close contact should be minimal and gloves worn were available.
Will all providers be able to run COVID secure courses?
No, some providers may be shielding or under some form of restriction. Some may be at substantial risk of vulnerability from exposure and should be self-isolating.
Where learners are unwilling to work with a partner, or they are unable to place them into a recovery position due to an injury, can they pass the assessment?
No. To be deemed competent learners must be able to place a casualty into the recovery position. If neither of these can be used, learners will need to attend a course when restrictions have eased and close contact is appropriate.
I am working with a training provider. Who is responsible for undertaking the risk assessment?
The employer and the training provider are responsible for the safety of the learners. It is therefore important that all parties have an input into the risk assessment and the controls you can implement.