–Updated 02 JULY 2020
The following may be subject to change if the official advice on COVID-19 changes, so please continue to check and revisit this page before your child is due to attend any session with us.
Be Free Forest School has been running sessions for schools we had existing contracts with throughout the months of June and July and so have had practical experience of implementing safety guidance. We have worked hard to ensure that we are complying with government guidelines and NHS advice demonstrated by our being awarded the ‘we’re good to Go’ kite mark having met strict criteria to maintain government guidelines.
The last three months have been challenging and stressful for everyone including our children and so we welcome the children to join us for some playtime and fresh air in the woods, no screens in sight and away from COVID-related stress and worry.
Our aims have always been about freedom to explore, choice, connection, challenge and wellbeing, far more than simply outdoor fun experiences but about feeling part of a community. We want to help people feel the connection they have with people and the natural world, which after months of lockdown, is needed more than ever.
Our groups will allow children to play, to learn, to feel and to connect. We will promote health, adventure, happiness and wellbeing, reconnecting with each other and with nature. We firmly believe this is the most important medicine right now.
We are fortunate that our working environment outdoors is intrinsically safer than any other social setting, but we have developed a number of additional procedures, informed by the current understanding of COVID-19 and government guidelines for educational settings.
We will be working on the government’s recommended ‘Protective measures for out of school settings during Coronavirus outbreak’, subject to government-specified infection controls. The government recommends, in a one-off session, or setting which a consistent group won’t be attending, group size is no more than 15, not including adults. We will offer ‘one off’ sessions or those which are a series of days to minimise mixing of bubbles between families and children. The infection control procedures required by government guidelines are:
minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend childcare settings, schools or colleges
cleaning hands more often than usual – wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered
ensuring good respiratory hygiene – promote the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach
minimising contact and mixing by altering, as much as possible, the environment.
The following procedures have been designed to follow government guidelines insofar as they are applicable in an outdoor environment, to keep everyone as safe as possible while still running an enjoyable day outdoors. The procedures cannot cover every eventuality, but we will use our judgement to apply the government’s 5 principles above, which will help to keep you and your children safe.
By booking with us you explicitly agree to the following terms, conditions and procedures, together with general terms and conditions, and we will expect you to abide strictly by them, so please take a moment to read and understand them.
The following may be subject to change if the official advice on the novel coronavirus changes, so it is worth revisiting this page just before your child is due to attend.
Attendance on the day is subject to your child being virus-free, as far as it is practicable to be sure. This means you must NOT bring your child if they:
show any symptoms of COVID-19 on the day
show any symptoms within 7 days prior to attending
are living with an individual who has shown symptoms within 14 days before the date of their attendance (they and you should be self-isolating as per government guidelines)
Children who turn up with a cough – or who are accompanied by an adult or sibling with a cough – or are otherwise obviously unwell will not be accepted by the registering leader. The leader’s decision on this matter is final. You will not be eligible for a credit note or a refund under these circumstances.
Please be responsible when making a decision about bringing your child – bringing a child who is mildly ill, even if you are sure they are well enough to attend, could threaten the health of other children, and of our staff. Our staff are required to self-isolate at the first sign of any symptoms, so if you send a poorly child – even if you are convinced that they do not have COVID-19 – you risk us having to cancel all future sessions for this season because our staff will be unable to work.
Kit on the day
Food and Drink: For full day sessions children will bring with them a packed lunch and drink; we are unable to provide any shared food at this time. Please bring labelled water bottles.
Hand Hygiene: We provide multiple hand washing stations (with running water, disposable hand towels and soap), but no shared hand sanitiser. If you would like your child to use hand sanitiser children can bring their own but cannot share this with other children (unless siblings) or adults.
We do not provide hand sanitiser for children, as the Forest School Association guidance recommends running water and soap. In addition, the passing of a bottle from hand to hand is in itself a potential transmission risk.
Disposable tissues: We have packets of tissues as part of our kit in case children need to use them. A packet of tissues will not be used in another session, once opened the child may keep the packet. Tissues are to be disposed of and hands washed afterwards.
Masks: The UK government guidance on masks says: “Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended…. Schools and other education or childcare settings should therefore not require staff, children and learners to wear face coverings. Changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measures in controlling the spread of the virus.”
Please do not send your child in a mask, or ask us to make sure they wear one:
If your child arrives wearing a mask, or if you insist that your child wears a mask during the session, we will assume that they are infectious and refuse to accept their attendance. You will not get a refund or a credit note under these circumstances.
On the day
Please arrive 15 minutes before the session is scheduled to begin to allow time for registration and handwashing. Please arrive promptly for collection so that we can clean equipment between sessions.
Shielded and clinically vulnerable children and adults
Children and adults in these categories should not attend Be Free Forest School. If children or any member of the household is shielding or clinically vulnerable, then they should not attend.
The UK government’s recommendation for primary schools is that they accept a half class at a time, with a suggested upper limit of 15 children. Working outdoors, with plenty of fresh air and room to move around, we will be able to accept up to 15 children per session.
Please ensure all consent forms are completed through the booking site before the session begins. Please maintain social distancing while queuing to sign in and out. This means you must be 2 metres from the other adults while queuing.
Please stay 2 metres from the leader conducting sign in/out while you are waiting. Please only have one adult attend per household. Try to sign in and out as quickly as possible, to minimise our staff’s exposure to you. If you have queries about the day please wait until the end of registration and ask any questions while maintaining the recommended 2m distance.
The leader will have set up a visual guide to indicate where the queue should start – please respect that and do not crowd around our staff.
It is clearly impossible to maintain a 2m distance in woods and rough terrain with primary age children. We cannot guarantee that children will not be within touching distance of each other at brief times during the day in the woods with us. Please do not send your children if you expect them to strictly maintain a 2m distance from everyone at every moment during the day.
However, any games or activities that involve touching or holding hands will be adapted to avoid physical contact, and children will be spaced out while engaged in social actions (such as eating or crafting) to maximise the distance between them.
The fire circle (greeting time) will be expanded so that there is adequate space between each child and between children and adults.
We will try to avoid sharing equipment. Kit and objects which are shared (primarily tools) will be disinfected, using recommended sanitisation products, before being passed onto another child. All equipment will be cleaned between sessions.
The toilet surfaces which are likely to be touched will be disinfected at regular intervals during the day.
We will not be carrying children’s bags or other possessions during the day, and we will keep contact with children’s food to an absolute minimum.
The current science on the transmission on the novel coronavirus indicates that:
transmission is greatly reduced outside
children are at less risk than adults of transmitting the disease and of developing serious symptoms
we will be using a water container with tap at regular intervals with soap for hand washing: on arrival, after toileting and before departure. The tippy tap system allows us to use running water. Hand washing will be supervised by staff with young children.
After the day
It is a good idea to launder clothes after a day in which you have been in contact with anyone who is not from your immediate household, as there is some evidence the virus can linger on fabrics.
Finally, thank you for your understanding and cooperation during these unprecedented times. We look forward to welcoming your children back into the woods, to reconnect with nature and each other, under the safe guidelines and procedures laid out in this document.