Government response to petition “Change DfE school guidance to allow overnight educational visits.”

The Government continues to advise against the resumption of domestic overnight and overseas educational visits at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools can undertake safe COVID-19 day visits

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak has presented significant challenges for children and for British businesses, including those in the residential sector. Children are missing out on the residential experience and the undoubted benefits that brings and providers of those services are understandably concerned about the viability of their own businesses and recovery of the sector.

However, the Government’s priority is to ensure that children remain in education with any measures put in place designed to support that ambition. In respect of the reintroduction of overnight educational visits, including residential trips, careful consideration has been given to measures that, on the one hand, open up the sector, but on the other hand, potentially increases the rate of transmission of the virus

Therefore the Government does not plan to change its current guidance at this time, and continues to advise against the resumption of domestic overnight and overseas educational visits for those in education and other settings. Schools are able to undertake COVID-19 secure day visits. Guidance for full opening: schools – GOV.UK sets out this position.

The decision not to resume overnight educational visits, including residential trips at this stage has been heavily influenced by the public health advice available and the Government’s need to put in place measures to reduce and bring under control the rising cases of COVID-19 in England.

Public Health England has advised that the resumption of residential visits will unnecessarily increase the risk of transmission of the virus due to a number of factors, some of which are listed below:

• increased social interaction of groups of children and adults outside of their established bubbles
• increased contact time with others in an indoor setting
• sharing bedroom facilities
• sharing of accommodation more broadly and close living arrangements (including sharing facilities such as canteens, showers and toilets)
• additional travel across country and the interaction with others that the children and adults accompanying them would not otherwise encounter

The risks associated with these factors will vary from trip to trip and residential centre to centre.

This position will be reviewed again in November 2020. The review will, amongst other things, consider the risk factors described above and the position of the country as a whole in driving down the prevalence of the virus.

The Government has made available to UK businesses a number of support measures and more information on business support can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): Business support – GOV.UK and the recently announced Job Support Scheme – GOV.UK.

Department for Education

Correct as of 19 October 2020