Schools that plan to hold Christmas celebrations such as nativity plays or musical performances will be told today by the Department of Education they should do so without parents in attendance.
The Department will issue strict guidance that any Christmas celebration must be in line with Covid-19 guidelines but acknowledge “the end of each term is a significant milestone” and that celebration of these milestones is “important to support positive wellbeing for pupils and students in schools”.
Choirs and large musical performances “should be avoided at present” due to public health advice which shows singing can increase the spread of Covid-19 by projecting droplets further than speech.
The Department’s directive also states wind and brass instruments including tin whistles and recorders should not be played indoors due to “the additional risk of infection such activity poses”.
“Outdoor class performances and other precautions such as moisture guards for wind instruments may be considered as alternative options,” the department has stated.
Streaming of nativity plays and other end-of-term musical performances online is encouraged so parents and guardians can watch students perform, but the Department was clear they should not attend any indoor or outdoor celebrations.
“Class performances may be shared with other classes and parents/guardians using digital technologies such as the school website, the school’s digital platform and/or video-conferencing facilities, provided appropriate consent has been obtained from parents/guardians.
Parents/guardians should not be invited to attend end-of-term celebrations this year, the Department directive states, however, “Christmas singing whilst maintaining social distancing and within normal pod structures can take place outdoors.
“Unfortunately, no parents or guardians will be allowed to attend these outdoor events either.”
Pupils will be allowed to share Christmas presents and cards with each other, but this should be confined to their usual social pods and done so in a “controlled” manner so that interaction among students is not increased.
“Any card or gifts would ideally be given to a staff member directly, and then distributed by a staff member to pupils/students in a controlled way. There should be a strong emphasis on hand hygiene at all times,” the Department has said.
Secondary schools have also been advised to consider administering end-of-term examinations to individual class groups in their classrooms rather than in “large assembly-style groupings” to limit the number of contacts between students.
Assemblies in primary schools should also be avoided.
Teachers are to be reminded they can handle students' copybooks and exam papers but that hand hygiene etiquette must be maintained to high standards at all times.