Scouts in England are currently at the Red readiness level. This means no face to face meetings can take place and all Scouting must be done online. The latest guidance can be found here and is updated regularly when changes are made.
Our programme support page has some great ideas for blended Scouting (a mix of outdoor and online activities).
For face to face to happen (when allowed), each Section needs to produce a risk assessment and submit for approval. The links below are designed to support Leaders in writing these Risk Assessments and guide them through the process.
Your assessor is: Richard Hinchliffe
Their email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
The National guidance link above includes FAQs for each piece of information. Locally, we have collated the most common questions as a first port of call for our volunteers.
1. How many young people can we take at one time?
The current maximum is 15 young people in a ‘limited group’, excluding leaders. You can have up to five Leaders in each Group in addition to any carers that are required.
2. What about young Leaders?
The same rules for adult Leaders apply to Young Leaders when it comes to a ‘limited groups’. They can be counted as one of the five Leaders at the session.
3. Can we hold more than one meeting in a day?
The short answer is yes, but only if there is no overlap in young people in ‘limited groups’. Adult leaders can move between limited Groups. This means an adult Leader could attend Beavers at 5pm and Cubs at 7pm.
4. Can we share equipment between limited groups?
Yes, you can. But you will need to consider hygiene controls and cleansing regimes between its use. The likely scenario for this will be ensuring equipment is cleansed after the meeting for use in the following days. However, if you are running multiple Group meetings at the same time (see above), you must ensure that you have all necessary equipment, first aid kits for example, to allow you to safely run without the need to share. Activity equipment might be set up and used on a ‘rotational’ basis, but you would need to consider how to minimise risk of transmission between ‘bubbles’.
5. We’d like to have a leader’s planning meeting beforehand, can we do this?
Yes, you can. We’d encourage the use of Zoom, Facetime, Teams and the like, but if you wish to hold a face to face meeting with leaders you can do so, adhering to current Government requirements, which is a maximum of 6 adults from different households, externally only at the moment. Of course, this will change over time so you’ll need to check the requirements at the time that you wish to hold the meeting
6. Has The Scout Association made recommendations with regard to brands of hand sanitiser, PPE etc.?
No, this is a matter for your assessment. In fact, the entire use of PPE or hygiene products is a matter for assessment. It may be that alternative controls, for example, could be adopted to negate the requirement for hand sanitiser.
7. Does this mean that I need to carry out a risk assessment for every activity?
There should be some form of assessment in any case, but for the purposes of a return to face to face scouting, we need to be assured that any risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is kept to an absolute minimum. There will be a requirement from January 2021 for all activities to have written risk assessments and more information can be found on the National website.
8. The training of some of our leaders is out of date, what should we do?
The Scout Association has made it very clear that ALL leaders should, as a minimum, have undertaken basic training in the form of Safety and Safeguarding. A First Aid trained leader must be present at all times during a meeting. If any of your leaders have not yet completed basic training, the safety and safeguarding modules can be found here. Completed certificates should be sent to the County Office or DC.
9. What about toilet facilities?
Clearly, some form of facility need be provided, wherever your meeting is to be held. You will need to consider how these are to be sanitised – whether that is something that is undertaken by leaders, or by a 3rd party. The first point of call might be liaison with the venue direct and determine if they have any implemented measures as part of their own risk assessment and whether these accord with your Group’s requirements.
10. Is there any need for the use of masks, gloves and aprons etc. in a first aid kit?
You will need to consider the suitability of your equipment to manage an incident should one arise. HSE have provided guidance on such an occurrence in a non-medical setting. https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/first-aid-and-medicals/first-aid-certificate-coronavirus.htm.
11. Will there be one system for all approvals to allow prompt feedback?
The mechanism for approval for a return to face to face scouting is covered in detail in the guidance previously supplied. Should there be specific questions with regard to how that operates, please feel free to ask your local Approver.
12. Can we have a library of standard Risk Assessments?
Example risk assessments are supplied with the guidance which can be adapted for your use. Your assessment will be dependent upon a wide range of variables, from the people in attendance, the activities you will be undertaking through to the venue of your meeting. It is imperative that you fully understand the nature of the risks and controls before a meeting takes place. It is difficult to provide a library of ‘standard’ risks, as these will be dependent upon these varied factors.
13. If we make dynamic changes to risk assessments, do these have to be approved retrospectively?
All risk assessments are, to a great extent, dynamic and will need to be subject to ongoing update and review based upon the prevailing factors. The COVID specific risk assessments need to be reviewed each month and any significant change resubmitted for approval.
14. How do we consider risks where events are in presence of public?
Again, that is a matter for your own assessment. If a meeting is taking place in a location where public are likely present, then you should consider the risk assessments of the host venue to ensure that you are comfortable with their adopted controls and that they accord with The Scout Association’s current requirements.
15. Should we consider wearing facemasks, (over 11 and adults) during events, face to face, and transport?
How you manage risk of transmission is a matter for your assessment, the wearing of face masks being only one of a varied range of controls open to you. At the moment, Scouts and Explorers are required to wear face masks at meetings. Leaders do not need to wear a facemask when delivering activities but must do so in other situations.
16. Will scouting arrange regular testing of high risk section leaders (similar to taxi drivers, care workers)?
Unlike care workers etc. scout leaders are not considered ‘key workers’. You should embark upon a return to face to face scouting only when you are comfortable and feel able to do so. There is no pressure from the Scout Association, County or District to return to face to face scouting at this time. However, with a robust risk assessment and the adoption of controls specific to the venue, personnel and activities undertaken, the consensus is that the risk of transmission of the COVID virus will remain low. The risk cannot, of course, be entirely eliminated at this time. If section leaders are considered ‘high-risk’, they may wish to consider whether a return is the correct decision for them at this time.
17. Can we get approval well in advance or do we have to wait until event planned?
We would suggest and encourage ensuring that assessments are completed, submitted and approved before planning any event.