Schools can go ahead with ‘risk-assessed’ sports days

Schools do not need to cancel this year’s sports days as a result of Covid restrictions, the Department for Education has said.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th June 2021, 3:46 pm

Some schools are cancelling sports days and citing Covid guidance, but the Government has said this does not need to happen in “most circumstances”.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesman said: “Outdoor events like sports days can go ahead as long as they’re thoroughly risk assessed and conducted in line with guidance around cleaning shared equipment and not mixing bubbles. This applies for parents attending too.”

Spectators can gather in separate groups of up to 30 outdoors and they need to observe social distancing, according to a blog by the DfE.

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Schools do not need to cancel this year’s sports days
Schools do not need to cancel this year’s sports days

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“This means, dependent on the size of the area available, multiple groups of 30 could theoretically attend events as long as there is no mixing between groups at any stage,” the DfE adds.

But school leaders have warned that the latest clarification from the DfE is “too late” for many schools who have already made decisions on whether to hold sports days.

James Bowen, director of policy at the NAHT school leaders’ union, said: “The current restrictions in place around spectators will mean that for many, sadly it simply won’t be possible to proceed with having families in attendance.

“The restrictions around organising spectators in particular present a logistical nightmare. This is such a shame given that sports day is so often a real highlight of the year and a great opportunity to bring the whole school community together.

Schools will do the best they can, and in some cases it might be possible to have some parents attending, but this will have to be assessed on a case by case basis.”

He added: “For many schools the latest clarification from the DfE will arrive too late, and decisions on the safe running of sports days will have already been taken weeks ago.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “Schools will be aware of the extremely brief guidance from the DfE about running sports days with Covid safety measures in place.

“If they have decided not to go ahead with sports days, it isn’t because they are unaware of the guidance, but because of the practicalities involved in managing bubbles of children and spectators with limited staffing and multiple other pressures on their time.

“This is likely to be the case particularly in schools which are experiencing high levels of disruption because of positive Covid cases and rules which say that all close contacts have to self-isolate.”

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