Safe Learning

A short message from our Head of School on the safety measures we have in place:

egham video

We were delighted to welcome our students back to ACS Egham on 24 August.

For the new school year, ACS faculty and staff were thrilled to see all of our returning students back in person and to welcome hundreds of new families to our extended community.

We have created the ‘next normal’ together, with appropriate caution, but also with the imagination and determination that makes ACS schools such special places to work and learn. During these uncertain times, we are confident and ready for a successful school year.

We are exercising extraordinary care as we implement Government guidelines for COVID-19 security in every aspect of school life. We take all reasonable precautions. Here are some of the robust systems of control that we use to minimise risk and ensure the safety of all students, families and employees.

Health and safety

Essential measures of our ‘prevent and respond’ strategy include: 

  • a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
  • robust hand and respiratory hygiene
  • enhanced cleaning arrangements
  • active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school, wherever possible.

The principal measures by which we will reduce contacts will (as much as possible) include:

  • grouping students together
  • avoiding contact between groups
  • arranging classrooms with forward-facing desks
  • staff maintaining distance from students and other staff as much as possible.

Our dedicated medical centres are staffed by trained school nurses who have access to support from local GPs. Our lead nurse facilitates common campus policies and practice. School nurses work in close collaboration with local health authorities and in line with standards set by the Medical Officers of Schools Association.

Temperature checks are not required on site, but students and staff must ensure sure they don’t have a fever before leaving for school. Masks are not required in teaching environments. Older students must wear face coverings in specified indoor settings and communal spaces (such as hallways and corridors) where school groups/bubbles are mixed and it’s difficult to maintain 1m or further social distancing. Students 11 years and older must wear face coverings on ACS busses.

All staff, including temporary teachers and coaches, are trained in infection control and mental health first aid.

School nurses are available throughout the school day and are on hand to conduct temperature checks if needed.

We have robust plan for identifying and isolating students who develop COVID-19 symptoms at school. We work closely with local health protection authorities to report coronavirus-related absences, and notify anyone who has been in close and extended contact with confirmed coronavirus infections (as required).

We attend to the mental health and wellbeing of faculty, staff and students by

  • monitoring self-reported measures (Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Health Scale)
  • providing access to internal and external resources (including school counsellors and an Employee Assistance Programme)
  • educating for wellness in a dynamic programme of personal. health, social, and relationships education, along with advisory groups for personalised pastoral care.
Learning and teaching

Small homeroom or year group (grade-level) cohorts stay together for most of the school day, and they use the same spaces as much as possible. Where possible, teachers rotate to work with fixed groups of students in their identified learning spaces.

We’ve carefully reviewed our facilities to ensure adequate ventilation and safe capacity. Wherever possible, students have individual desks, facing forward, spaced at 1m for social distancing (Grade 2 and above). Teachers generally work at a 2m social distance and engage with students side-to- side for short conversations. Where social distancing is not possible, we use face coverings, shields or modified scheduling to reduce risk of infection.

Specialist learning spaces are individually risk-assessed, and additional PPE is provided when a full, broad and balanced curriculum requires interaction that can’t be adequately socially-distanced. We provide a full educational programme of visual and performing arts, design, and laboratory sciences that follow strict safety guidelines of the relevant professional associations.

Teachers are prepared to support students temporarily learning from home while in isolation. We also have extensive contingency plans should it be necessary for large groups of students (or, in the case of another local or national lockdown) to learn at a distance.

We use best-in-class educational technologies and hybrid-ready instructional design. We support student learning regardless of location, easing necessary transitions between home and school. ACS schools have extensive outdoor spaces and athletic and sports facilities. These excellent fresh-air environments provide inspiring spaces in which to learn, play and compete.

School life

The ACS Estates and Facilities team strictly follow government guidance, and our staff comply with training and practice standards established by the British Institute of Cleaning Science. We sanitise high-touch public surfaces and common spaces four times each work/school day. Rooms are thoroughly cleaned each evening. Teams are prepared to conduct ‘deep cleans’ of spaces affected by any confirmed cases of COVID-19. Each room is equipped with sterilisation supplies.

Drop off and pick up are carefully controlled to limit congregating. One-way systems and zone controls are in place to prevent crowding.

Catering services are conducted according to Government guidelines for commercial food service. Younger students will begin the year eating in their classrooms. Dining halls will be limited in capacity and older students will eat in socially-distanced shifts.

We won’t be holding assemblies and large group meetings for the time being. Libraries and other shared facilities are capacity-limited and subject to enhanced cleaning regimes. We are not undertaking international travel for the foreseeable future. Educational visits will be limited and local.

We will review these operational changes after the autumn break (half term), and ease restrictions as soon it’s safe to do so.

Extra-curricular programme

A full range of after-school activities will begin on schedule, both on campus and online. Late busses will be available with advance registration.

ACS athletic directors and coaches are working closely with our school sports associations and sport-specific governing bodies to plan the year. We expect play to return to a more normal condition as the year progresses. We are considering opportunities to adjust seasons and focus on intramural and local competitions so that student athletes can enjoy a full experience of school sport.

We will prioritise skills development and (re-)conditioning that support a wide range of interests, activities, and fitness levels.

Visitors and events

We are limiting the number and size of events, following Government guidelines about safe practices, and using outdoor spaces whenever possible.

We expect parents to remain in their private vehicles, and welcome them on campus by appointment only. We are asking parents to avoid congregating informally or socialising on campus, and to maintain 2m social distancing when they visit.

All visits are logged. Only essential external workers are allowed on campus during the school day, and all contractors are screened for compliance with COVID-19 workplace security guidelines.

We are only holding essential meetings in person. Any face-to-face meetings are being conducted with appropriate social distancing and additional measures in place to minimise the risk of viral transmission.

Most admission tours and orientation activities will be virtual. In-person visits will be allowed only after regular school hours. Autumn open days will take place online.


Full Return to Campus Frequently Asked Questions - Updated 28 August 2020

Decision making principles and authority

1. Who made the decision for ACS UK schools to return fully to on-campus learning this autumn?

The UK Department for Education has asked schools (including independent schools) to prepare for all students and teachers to return for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Many schools start a few weeks later than ACS, and we have sought specific guidance about the implications of our academic calendar. The Return to School Policy is critically reviewed and endorsed by the Education Committee of the Board of Trustees

2. Why are we keeping the school calendar as is?

The nature of our international community means that families have needed as much lead time as possible to make travel arrangements, and in many cases manage the logistics of enrolling children in their new school. In particular, members of the boarding community at Cobham require a great deal of advance planning. We did not want to delay the start of our school year or disrupt families’ annual planning any more than necessary.

3. What happens if England postpones or delays its planned reopening of all schools in the autumn term?

We will be prepared to respond accordingly with an online transition period to the new school year if the situation changes. However, we expect school to start on schedule for all students, faculty and staff in anticipation of the return of UK state schools according to their various start dates for the autumn term.

4. If blended learning is such a good idea, why has ACS chosen to bring all students back to school rather than offer a range of home-school options?

We believe that the best educational programme brings students and teachers together in schools. That approach offers the most balanced educational opportunities through which students can achieve the broadest range of learning results. Blended learning is a feature of progressive education in which home, school and the wider world are all platforms from which students can make progress toward their learning goals. Blended learning models also provide instructional flexibility. If individual students, groups, schools or regions are forced into temporary periods of online/remote learning, transitions between home-based and school-based learning will be more seamless.

5. What are the guiding principles of ACS’s return to campus?

We follow guidance developed by the UK government, applying its directives to our own contexts, resources and facilities. While we respectfully review and remain mindful of other schools’ decisions and the public health/ educational policies of many countries, we rely on the best judgment of the UK’s elected leaders and their engagement with the national public health authorities. Both as a matter of public spiritedness and in our capacity as a registered charity, we believe this is the most reasonable and practical basis on which to make strategic and operational decisions during a public health emergency.

Essential measures of our ‘prevent and respond’ strategy include:

  • a requirement that people who are ill stay at home
  • robust hand and respiratory hygiene
  • enhanced cleaning arrangements
  • active engagement with NHS Test and Trace
  • formal consideration of how to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible and minimise potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable.

The principal measures by which we will reduce contacts will (as much as possible) include:

  • grouping students together
  • avoiding contact between groups
  • arranging classrooms with forward facing desks
  • staff maintaining distance from students and other staff as much as possible.

6. What is ACS’s principal hierarchy of control measures?

ACS employs a range of control measures to reduce risk, in a rough hierarchy of impact and effectiveness.



When this hierarchy is exhausted or cannot be implemented, we then consider whether additional measures are needed (for example, face coverings and visors) as a last resort.

7. What policies have been reviewed and amended with respect to the return to school?

These policies available on the ACS public website have COVID-19 amendments dating from the partial return to school in June 2020. They will be updated before the new school year begins to reflect our full return to on-campus learning.

Risk Assessment Process

What is our risk assessment process?

Health and safety risk assessments identify measures to control risks during education and childcare setting activities. Health and safety law requires the school employer to assess risks and put in place measures to reduce the risks so far as is reasonably practicable. The law also requires employers to record details of risk assessments, the measures taken to reduce these risks and expected outcomes. Schools need to record significant findings of the assessment by identifying:

  • the hazards
  • how people might be harmed by them
  • what has been put in place to control risk.

ACS has produced key (draft) risk assessments for consultation with families, faculty and staff. Risk assessments are continually reviewed and revised as necessary. Live versions will be posted on accessible ACS websites, and monitored on a regular basis by campus Health & Safety Committees.

Additional staff risk assessments for specific roles and activities are developed, shared for consultation, reviewed by experts, and posted on SafetyCloud (our internal repository of health, safety and wellbeing compliance resources).

9. What are the main pillars of our risk management strategy?

At the highest level, we manage risk through preventative measures and response planning.

We also rely on the good will, responsible action and full cooperation of all members of the ACS community by understanding, endorsing and behaving in accordance with our ACS Community Health Citizenship Charter.

10. Whom have you consulted / taken advice from with respect to the risk assessment strategy?

The key sources of information and standards for Covid-safe schools upon which rely include:

NHS and Public Health England
National Association of Head Teachers
Confederation of School Trusts
National Education Union ACAS (Advice, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)
The Key for School Leaders
Surrey County Council
Southalls Associates (our legal Health and Safety ‘competent person’)
Boarding Schools’ Association
Independent School Bursars Association
Council of International Schools
Medical Officer of Schools Association
ACS Health and Safety and Facilities & Estates professionals.

In addition, we consult with our broader international schools networks as well as a wide range of relevant specialist advisory bodies and professional groups (for example, the Association for Physical Education and the Musician’s Union).

11. Where can I find ACS Covid-19 risk assessments?

In the downloads further down this webpage.

12. Why don’t we publish school-specific risk assessments?

Our COVID-19 risk assessment strategy is led by three master risk assessments, including a public-facing document for parents, that outline a hierarchy of control measures that school teams apply across a range of facilities and activities. Site-specific risk assessments are technical business work products that document the applications of those principles to particular people, roles and facilities. Through our communication plan, we keep parents and students fully informed of particulars at the school and divisional level.

Protective Measures/ Prevention

13. What’s been done to make ACS facilities as safe as possible?

We have undertaken a complete review of our facilities and operations to make sure we can support a safe full return to campus-based learning. Following government 5 guidance, we have consulted widely with authoritative groups to develop a comprehensive checklist-based approach to ensure that we are ready safely to welcome back all students, parents and staff back to our facilities.

Among the actions we’ve taken include:

  • securing the advice of health and safety experts to make and review our plans
  • organised facilities in ways that lower risk of transmission, including where possible one way systems
  • communicated clearly that symptomatic individuals do not attend
  • provided materials, procedures and reminder which promote regular hand cleaning, respiratory hygiene, sanitation and social distancing ● created secure spaces and rapid response plans for handling potential cases
  • confirmed that our cleaning procedures meet British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) standards and recommendations as well as relevant guidance for food services, office spaces and non-health care settings
  • conduct a comprehensive facilities utilisation and ventilation review, analysing traffic flow, pinch points, communal spaces and capacity limitations ● purchased additional furniture to provide more single, front facing desks
  • added Perspex shields to protect personnel in close contact with external visitors
  • provided extra hand-sanitising facilities at key locations
  • provisioned rooms with cleaning supplies and appropriate PPE for managing poor respiratory hygiene
  • Increased the frequency of cleaning throughout the day
  • replaced open waste bins with covered receptacles, and added covers to toilets to reduce aerosol transmission.

We will continue to monitor conditions, procedures and implementation of Covid-secure policies, and engage in respectful dialogue with stakeholders about health and safety during the pandemic.

14. What other measures have you put in place to limit transmission of the virus?

All faculty and staff will be fully briefed on how we will work together to make our learning spaces and classroom procedures as safe as reasonably possible. New health and safety training will be required that encompasses updated policies, collaborative risk assessment and professional development in infection control.

Masks, face coverings and other PPE

15. Are students required to wear a face covering (mask) at school?

In practically all cases, no. As part of specific risk mitigation strategies for a small number of specialist learning spaces or other close-contact environments, we may 6 introduce requirements for face coverings and visors/ goggles. If an extended activity requires students to have face coverings or visors, they will be provided, and students will be trained in their proper use.

16. Are students permitted to wear a face covering (mask)?

Parents may choose to provide a face covering for their children to wear at school. However, teachers cannot be responsible for ensuring that face coverings are used consistently according to your household expectations, and with the strict care necessary for their effective use. We’re aware of a range of medical opinion and cultural practice regarding face coverings, and we will encourage respect for each other’s decisions.

We expect students 11 years and older, and all adults, to wear face coverings on public transport, including busses arranged by ACS. We expect face coverings to be chosen/made, worn and discarded/re-used according to government guidance.

17. Who must wear a face covering at school?

Students in Middle School and High School/ Upper School, and all staff members during designated places and times in which they are mixing and less able to maintain social distancing. The government’s guidance specified English schools’ Year 7 (ACS Grade 6), or the beginning of secondary school in which students have more complicated academic schedules that may require more mixing, For ACS Cobham and Hillingdon, that change begins in Grade 5.

ACS already requires students 11 years and older to wear a face covering on school transportation. Our Community Health Citizenship Charter outlines our expectation that everyone 11 years and older follows government guidance on when to wear face coverings in certain indoor environments

18. Why did ACS UK Schools decide to require face coverings in some circumstances?

The UK government revised its guidelines on face coverings for schools in England, giving additional discretion to require coverings where the layout of the school facilities makes it particularly difficult to maintain social distancing when staff and pupils are moving around the premises.

We have now been in school for several days, so we are using this new discretion to respond to a few situations/ locations emerging in which the use of face coverings can provide additional protection.

The use of masks must not result in a false sense of security or disregard for other control measures. It is important to emphasize that the use of masks is one tool, and that we must all continue to adhere to physical distancing, hand 7 hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Parents, family members, teachers and educators have a critical role in ensuring that these messages are consistently conveyed to children and young people.

We will keep this policy under review in light of any changing circumstances, expert advice, or government guidance.

19. Why aren’t you requiring masks to be worn at all times?

We have implemented a series of control measures, including 1m+ social distancing and consistent grouping, which reduce the risk of viral transmission. In places and times where some of those control measures are more challenging to implement, we are introducing the use of face coverings as an additional measure.

Nationwide, the government is not recommending face coverings are necessary in education settings generally because a system of control, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances.

On the basis of current evidence, in light of the mitigating measures education settings are taking, and the negative impact on communication, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible. Face coverings can have a negative impact on learning and teaching and so their use in the classroom should be avoided.

Students and staff may choose whether or not they wear face coverings in other circumstances. Face coverings and visors may be indicated when other control measures are not possible to implement, in which case they will be supplied to ACS as part of task, space, or personal risk management plans.

20. Why aren’t you requiring younger students to wear face coverings too?

Current WHO advice is for children age 12 and older. Public Health England do not advise the use of face covering for children under 3 years of age for health and safety reasons. Younger students have smaller and more consistent school groups (‘bubbles’). They are also less able to manage themselves and use face coverings safely.

21. What kind of face covering is required?

This is a highly personal decision. Please follow government guidelines. Fabric face coverings can be used multiple times throughout the day if stored properly. The WHO recommends that medical masks are disposed of after a single use.

International Travel and Quarantine

22. What about families and teachers who’ve travelled overseas this summer?

We expect all members of the ACS community to complete all government-imposed quarantine requirements before entering any ACS campus, even if they have received a negative coronavirus test upon arrival.

The government publishes and regularly updates its list of countries that do not require travelers to quarantine upon arrival in the UK.

A limited number of boarding students (Cobham) will complete their quarantine individually in the Boarding House under ACS supervision. While under quarantine, they will have extremely limited access to other facilities and will not mix with other day or boarding students.

The UK government advises against non-essential travel except for a changing list of countries which have been exempted.

23. How will you deal with students or teachers who will be beginning the year in quarantine?

Teachers we advised to complete any travel quarantine requirements before their appointed return to work. We are working on a case-by-case basis with faculty and staff who may be caught out by rapidly-changing international travel regulations. They will not return to campus until their required quarantine period ends, although they may be assigned to work remotely.

24. What does ACS expect of families who travel internationally after the school year begins?

ACS expects all travellers to comply with UK regulations and FCO advice regarding travel to and transit through other countries, including requirements to quarantine when indicated. The FCO does not define ‘essential travel’, and we must trust families to act responsibly and within the spirit of the law

25. Can students come to school if someone in their household has traveled internationally, especially if the household traveller has to quarantine for 14 days?

Yes. Quarantine regulations only apply to the traveller, who must follow government guidelines for self-isolation. It is essential that people do the right thing.

26. Are you conducting temperature checks?

Public Health England is clear that routinely taking the temperature of pupils is not recommended as this is an unreliable method for identifying coronavirus (COVID-19). We expect faculty and staff to monitor their health, and we expect parents to make sure their children are well (and specifically, do not show any COVID-19 symptoms, including a fever) before they come to school.

Should any student or member of staff feel unwell or require help, our medical staff are expertly trained to provide assistance.

School nurses are available throughout the school day and are on hand to conduct temperature checks if needed.


27. What is the cleaning regime?

The ACS Estates and Facilities team is strictly following the government’s guidance cleaning non-health care settings outside the home. We comply with training and practice standards established by the British Institute of Cleaning Science

Cleaning staff will sanitise high-touch public surfaces and common spaces four times each work/school day. Rooms will be thoroughly cleaned each evening. Teams are prepared to conduct ‘deep cleans’ of spaces affected by any confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Any shared internal learning surfaces or equipment will be disinfected between groups under teacher supervision. Each classroom / learning space is equipped with materials to sanitise surfaces. We will train teachers and students in proper cleaning procedures for their personal spaces during the school day.

28. How safe are the clearing products used at ACS, and what kind of hand sanitiser is in use?

All of the cleaning and sanitising products purchased by the Facilities team at ACS for use in our UK campuses complies with all necessary UK and EU standards for safety and effectiveness.

Our Virucidal Disinfectant, which is recommended for use in hospitals, sports centres, and schools, and which has been tested for Virucidal and antimicrobial efficacy and meets the following standards:

EN1276 antimicrobial efficacy

EN14476 virucidal efficacy

EN13697 antibacterial efficacy

EN1650 & EN14562 fungicidal efficacy

Biodegradable anti-bacteria wipes are provided for cleaning of hands and surfaces. These have been dermatologically tested and are confirmed safe to use on skin. They are provided for cleaning hands, keyboards, mouse and screens.

Sanitising Wipes are provided for cleaning of surfaces. These are designed to protect for up to 24 hours. These sanitising wipes have passes UK and EU tests and comply with

EN1276 antimicrobial efficacy

EN14476 virucidal efficacy

EN13697 & EN13727 antibacterial efficacy

All the above products will be available to students under the direction of teachers, and guidance has been provided to use disposable gloves when using any cleaning products, and to wash any splashes from exposed skin using water and mild detergent. Disposable gloves will be available in classes and washing facilities will be available neaby.


All hand sanitiser purchased by the Facilities team at ACS for use in our UK campuses is between 60% – 70% alcohol, in ready use form and is water soluble. The sanitiser is effective against bacteria and enveloped viruses. It is suitable for use in food handling and preparation areas. Non-alcohol variants are provided where there is a possibility of exposure to naked flame (e.g. kitchens and some laboratories).

29. How has ACS reviewed ventilation and HVAC for learning and work spaces?

ACS has reviewed the provision of ventilation and air conditioning throughout the UK campuses and is following the guidance provided by the UK Health and Safety Executive ( Following this expert guidance, ACS has;

  • isolated any systems that don’t comply (i.e. any systems that provide only mixed recirculated air to more than one room)
  • encouraged all occupants to make use of fresh air wherever possible, by opening windows or doors (where it’s safe to do so)
  • Checked and cleaned/ replaced all system filters and reviewed filtration maintenance plans
  • provided alternative areas for occupation, or improved ventilation systems if indicated
  • worked with staff to respond to specific issues/concerns for offices, classrooms and specialist spaces.

Social Distancing

30. How are we defining groups?

In lower schools, each homeroom class will be an identified group/”bubble.” In middle/high/upper schools, cohorts will principally be defined by year groups. These definitions represent the best balance of limiting group size and making it possible to deliver the full curriculum.

Each boarding house (Cobham) will function as its own household or after-school group.

Each ACS bus roster will be an identified group, as will any in-person after school activities.

31. Will groups be allowed to mix?

Because of the complex nature of schools and educational programmes, students will likely be part of multiple groups/”bubbles.” The purpose of bubbles is to locate the setting in which students spend most of their time, and to make it easier to identify and isolate transmission of the virus with minimal interruption to other groups.

Operationally, we will sharply limit the amount of time and closely monitor the conditions under which groups/bubbles can mix indoors. and closely monitor cases in which students must be part of multiple year groups.

Specialist teachers and many middle/upper/high school teachers will be in contact with multiple groups of students, maintaining 2m social distancing whenever possible (or using additional measures if needed, such as working side-by-side, using face shields, or limiting the amount of time spent working with individual students).

32. What social distancing principles are guiding the organization of learning spaces?

We are following a guideline of ‘1m +’ for students in Grade 2 and higher in classroom environments, and 2m for adults in all situations. When it’s not feasible to maintain these distances because of space limitations or the academic programmes, we will introduce additional measures if possible.

33. How can young children be expected to practice social distancing?

We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years children cannot be expected to remain a metre or more apart from each other and staff throughout the 12 school day. We are implementing a range of measures in line with government’s guidance:

  • avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
  • frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practice
  • regular cleaning of settings, with easily disinfected learning resources
  • minimising contact and mixing
  • proper ventilation and use of outdoor learning spaces whenever possible.

34. What happens if older students don’t follow social distancing guidelines?

We will all be working together to keep each other healthy, so teachers and peers are responsible for encouraging and respectfully reminding each other to be informed, take care, and stay well. We expect the tone of these reminders to be positive and educational, not punitive. However, disrespectful, repeated and intentional disregard of Covid-security guidelines is subject to disciplinary action.


35. What are you doing to keep teachers safe?

As part of our due diligence, we are screening and providing individual risk assessments for clinically vulnerable staff households, as well as for people identifying as part of the BAME community. We will collaborate with staff who are unable safely to return to campus to make appropriate arrangements.

We are instituting a 2m socially distanced work zone for teachers working in grades K-12. We have completed detailed risk assessments for teachers and will be collaboratively engaged in making work spaces as safe as possible. Where social distancing is not possible, ACS will provide appropriate PPE.

Teachers will be trained in infection control. Staff spaces will have limited capacity. Faculty and staff will have dedicated time to access dining halls between student sittings.

36. Are staff permitted to wear face coverings (masks) or other PPE?

The government has advised that face coverings are not necessary in most educational settings. Faculty and staff may wear face coverings and/or masks if they choose, as part of their individual risk management strategies. We will provide advice and training about the selection and use of face coverings, and we expect staff to model good practice if they choose to bring and use their own.

We will use other measures to minimise risk of transmission, according to government guidance, including staff maintaining 2m social distancing’ limiting group size, etc. If that is not possible in the regular course of their duties, ACS will provide 13 face shields as an additional measure. (Medical staff have appropriate PPE for use in specific situations.)

37. Are teachers required or permitted to wear face coverings or Personal Protective Equipment?

The government has indicated that face coverings or PPE are not required for most educational settings. Some ACS staff roles will be using appropriate measures to limit transmission, especially if teachers are in contact with multiple groups or large numbers of students. Employees can choose whether or not they will wear face coverings at work.

38. In light of the pandemic, is there a change in the ACS dress code?

Although the risk of transmission by contact with clothing is very small, out of an abundance of caution we suggest that students and staff do not wear clothing that is difficult to launder or is worn multiple times between cleaning (for example, coats, sweaters, neckties and scarves that are usually worn repeatedly without laundering daily). Many have become accustomed to less formal attire during this extended period of working from home, and we had begun a review of our staff dress code before the pandemic—which we will continue this year. In the meantime, teachers and school leaders are likely to be dressed formally.

All employees and workers act as ambassadors for ACS and strive to project a smart and professional image whilst carrying out their duties. We continue to hold professional standards of appearance and dress, especially as an educational organisation that models professional standards for young people.

39. Does ACS provide PPE for its employees?

ACS provides PPE for staff as required by the Health and Safety Act. Non-medical face coverings and face shields/visors are not technically considered PPE. Under our return to work plan, employees have an opportunity to self-declare vulnerabilities that may be mitigated by the provision of cloth face coverings and plastic face guards, as agreed with HR and their line manager. These additional measures provided by ACS are part of specific personal risk management plans.

All employees can choose to provide and wear their own face coverings/ and or visors.

Educational Provision (Learning and teaching)

40. Are teachers expected to run parallel in-person and online versions of their classes?

No. Teachers will develop robust support for students who are self-isolating or otherwise unable to attend school because of an authorised absence. We work to maintain students’ connections to their classroom learning communities and teachers, and ensure that they are able to continue making expected progress. In some cases, learning for remote students may be synchronous (live, at the scheduled class time); however, teachers will implement strategies and design learning engagements on a case-by-case basis, and they will often include supervised but still largely self-directed learning.

41. Will learning look the same as it did before the pandemic?

We will provide a full educational programme that represents a broad and balanced curriculum as schedul

ed in standard timetables. Teachers will be focusing on ways to engage students and build collaboration skills under reasonable constraints of social distancing. We will continue to achieve ACS expected learning results that focus on students’ growth as effective learners, confident individuals, and caring contributors. Some classroom activities, teaching strategies and learning engagements will change in order to limit contact with students and reduce opportunities for transmitting the virus.

Teachers will look for meaningful opportunities to learn outdoors in clement weather. We will continue to explore and implement Modern Classroom methodologies and integrate educational technologies that support student learning and increase teaching effectiveness.

42. What will be the focus of learning and teaching?

Our first priority is the health and wellbeing of students and staff, and we will be celebrating responsibly the re-establishment of social connections, friendships and learning with others. Teachers will immediately begin informal screening and diagnostic assessment to gage students’ starting points against the new year’s learning goals. We will conduct MAP testing after 4 weeks of instruction in order to target growth opportunities, respond to individual needs, and plan any necessary interventions. We will accelerate learning where needed so that students’ progress will not have been interrupted by school closures last year.

Based on feedback from teachers and students, we do not anticipate significant learning losses or gaps in learning. Teaching teams have carefully re-organised the second year of IB Diploma courses to make sure students have completed the curriculum and all required internal assessments and are prepared by mock examinations for the May 2021 session. We are in conversation with the IB, and we will closely monitor any possible alterations to the DP curriculum and assessment that may be put in place for rising 12th grade students. The IB has indicated that MYP eAssessment will be conducted in May 2021 regardless of any school closures at the time.

43. How will we be caring for students’ mental health and wellbeing?

We will begin by focusing on social emotional learning, ensuring that everyone feels safe and secure at school and understands how we have to work together to stay healthy. Transitioning back to school, or to new stages of education, will be a key topic of conversation. We recognise a wide range of experience that people have had of the national shelter-in-place order (lockdown) and distance learning. Most students and staff adjusted well and exhibited great flexibility and resilience. Our counselling, advisory and safeguarding teams will watch carefully for students and staff who were more severely impacted or have trouble readjusting to on-campus learning.

44. What will you be doing to support students with special education needs and disabilities?

While many students with learning disabilities or other support needs thrived educationally during distance learning, others found it more difficult to manage learning independently. Throughout the national shelter-in-place order (lockdown), our student support teams continued to serve students with individualized attention and ongoing encouragement and academic reinforcement. We will continue to support students in their return to school, with special attention to students with social-emotional challenges.

45. What about specialist spaces, including sports and physical education?

We will utilise specialist teaching spaces and equipment needed to provide a full educational programme. We will follow government and industry-standard guidelines for learning environments like rehearsal facilities, performance venues, art studios, design and science laboratories and athletic facilities. We will use a range of measures, including enhanced cleaning, individual resources, and provision of PPE if required.

46. What about itinerant teachers and coaches?

Teachers are allowed to work in multiple schools. We will provide socially-distanced work spaces for itinerant teachers and ensure that they understand all Covid-secure measures.

47. Will you be running a full alternative programme of distance learning for students alongside the on-campus provision?


Extracurricular activities

48. Will there be after school programmes on campus?

As soon as possible, we anticipate that schools will offer a range of online and in-person after school activities. We will follow the lead of sports’ governing bodies in their measured approach toward a full return to pre-pandemic activities.

49. Will there be late busses in the autumn?

Late busses will be available to support after school programmes.

50. What about athletic teams and competitions?

ACS Athletic Directors and coaches are working closely with our school sports associations and sport-specific advisory groups to plan the year. We expect play to return to a more normal condition as the year progresses, and will consider opportunities to adjust seasons and focus on intramural and local competitions so that student athletes can enjoy a full experience of school sport.

51. Will we have school trips?

We will not be undertaking international travel for the foreseeable future. Educational visits will be limited and local.

School operations


52. What about busses?

Busses will operate as planned, with additional safety measures. All passengers 11 years of age and older will be required to wear a face covering throughout the journey, sanitizing their hands when entering and leaving the bus.

53. Can I arrange an unscheduled passenger or change in home destination in order to plan a playdate?

Not at this time, as we want to keep bussing groups as consistent as possible for the start of school. We will review this policy after autumn break/ midterm.


54. How will you manage lunch/ dining halls?

When school begins, food service provision for lower school students will feature a choice from two cold packed lunches, delivered to and eaten in the classroom. Lower School lunches will be ordered via Cunningham’s pre-order app before 9:30am (advance standing orders are welcome). Lunches will be delivered to collection points at designated times and distributed to classrooms. Waste bags will be sent with every year group for the disposing of food waste and to be left outside of the class, which cleaners will collect.

We will review this policy after the autumn break/midterm, with an expectation that we will be able to provide hot lunches for lower school students later this year.

Middle/high/upper school students will have four choices of hot/cold food served in the dining hall. Selections will be served in “grab and go” (foil) style containers. Lunch choices will be pre-ordered via the Fusion Mobile app to avoid using hand touch biometrics.

Staff entry to dining halls will be scheduled to minimise crossover with students, with staff access times identified between sittings.

Dining services are following government cafeteria guidelines, and will work as sustainably as possible by using bio-ware containers, keeping packaging to a minimum where it is safe to do so--and regularly reviewing government guidance with an eye toward reducing their use in stages as we are able. We aim to get plated service back as soon as guidelines allow.

Dining Hall and alternative venue seating will be limited, socially distanced at 1m, and facing in one direction. Additional school and division-specific information will be available at the beginning of term.

Boarding students will eat in their respective household bubbles, with limited seating capacity venues and appropriate social distancing.

Medical centres

55. What medical services are available?

ACS schools are staffed by trained school nurses who have access to support from local GPs. Our lead nurse facilitates common campus policies and practice. School nurses work in close collaboration with local health authorities and in line with standards set by the Medical Officers of Schools Association.

School nurses are available throughout the school day and are on hand to conduct temperature checks if needed.


56. Are parents obligated to send children to school? In-person school attendance is mandatory, in line with the government regulations, and the school must be notified of the reason for any absence. If you have specific concerns, please contact your divisional principal, school nurse, or student personal counselor.

57. Can my student come to school if they were shielding?

Can students come to school if they have clinically vulnerable people in their household, or have been in a household in which someone has been shielding?

The UK paused shielding for clinically vulnerable people on 1 August. The NHS advises that students who were shielding can come to school. People at risk at high risk from coronavirus should confer with their GP and work with the school nurse (students) or HR (faculty and staff) to address their individual situation in confidence.

58. How is ACS reporting student absences?

Local authorities require us to record and report student absences associated with the coronavirus pandemic. If a student is ill with Covid-19 symptoms and awaiting a test, has tested positive for the coronavirus, or is self-isolating on the advice of medical or public health authorities (including NHS Test & Trace), you are obligated to report that to the school attendance office as soon as possible.

59. Will school days start and end at the same time?

Yes. We don’t anticipate wide-scale staggering of start/stop times, as we have other arrangements in place, space, and clear procedures for pick-up and drop off. Additional school and division-specific information will be available at the beginning of term.

Non-classroom spaces

60. Libraries

School libraries will be open where possible, but will operate with limited capacity, enhanced clearing, and other Covid-safe practices.

61. Common rooms and other shared facilities

Common spaces will be limited to specific year groups where possible, and subject to limited capacity, increased ventilation and enhanced cleaning.


62. Are parents welcome on campus?

We are developing detailed procedures for safe drop-off and pick-up at each campus. We will encourage parents to remain in their private vehicles, and welcome them on campus by appointment only. We are asking parents to avoid congregating informally or socialising on campus.

63. Will parents be allowed to congregate on campus?

No. We will encourage strict physical/social distancing, and ask all parents to stay at least 2 metres apart at all times when on campus

64. Are parents required to wear face coverings on campus?

In most cases, no. People may choose to wear face coverings based on their own personal risk management strategies.

65. Will you hold large events?

We will sharply limit school events in order to minimise contact and avoid crowds. We will review this policy after the autumn break/ half term.

66. Can we schedule parent meetings?

We are grateful for the ongoing support and encouragement of the ACS parent community. Schools can host small meetings (for example, PSO committees and leadership groups) in which participants can be registered, socially distanced, and wearing face coverings if they are working together in enclosed indoor spaces for extended periods. Following parent meetings, ACS cleaners will sanitise meeting rooms before use by students and staff.

67. Will external groups be allowed on campus?

We will sharply limit external groups’ access to ACS facilities, and consider requests on a case-by-case basis. External groups will not use ACS facilities during the school day, and their plans will be fully risk assessed to reduce opportunities for cross-contamination.

68. What about admission tours and open days?

 Most admission tours will be virtual. In-person visits will be allowed only after regular school hours. Autumn open days will take place virtually. We will review this policy after the autumn break/ half term.

69. How will you manage visitors and contractors?

All visitors will be screened for compliance with government regulations. During school hours, we will limit contractors to essential work only and check their company’s risk management strategy for its commitment to compliance with industry-specific Covid-secure workplace guidelines.

Response to coronavirus infection/ transmission

Infection/ suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 (students, faculty, staff and people in their households)

70. a. If anyone in my household has COVID-19 symptoms, what should we do? b. What if a teacher, staff, student or someone in their household has a suspected case of coronavirus disease?

DO NOT COME TO SCHOOL. You should get a test, seek medical attention, and follow advice from health authorities. We have prepared flowcharts for faculty/staff and parents that outline what to do for the most common situations.. This advice can change on short notice. Always follow the latest government guidance for households with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

71. If someone in my household has coronavirus symptoms, however mild, can other members of the household come to work or school?

No. The entire household must self-isolate. When someone has a suspected or confirmed coronavirus infection, all other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill (or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken). If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they must stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 14-day isolation period.

72. What if someone becomes symptomatic while at school?

Government guidelines require that anyone with a suspected coronavirus infection should immediately go/ be escorted at a safe distance to the school medical officer/ nurse. We are obliged to notify local health protection teams. The person who is ill will be safely isolated from others and cared for by trained personnel with appropriate 21 medical grade PPE. After evaluation the affected person(s) will be collected by a family member/ sent home in a private vehicle with reasonable preventative measures unless immediate medical intervention is required.

ACS attendance officers, medical staff or HR partners will follow up. If a boarding student becomes symptomatic, they will be safely isolated from others and cared for according to the school’s medical plan.

73. What if a teacher, staff, student or someone in their household has a confirmed case/ tests positive? Will we be told?

We will follow advice from the local health protection team, and notify parents as soon as we learn that it’s necessary, using NHS templated communications. We will not disclose the name of students/families or staff members in any communication about positive test results or confirmed cases of Covid-19.

74. a. If we have a positive case in a bubble or year group, do the bubble(s)/year group(s) bubbles with siblings of students in the directly-affected bubble/year group also need to test and isolate?

b. If students are in the hall together for lunch and one of those has a positive test for Covid-19, does everyone else have to isolate?

c. If two separate bubbles/year groups are together and there is a confirmed case in one group, do both groups have to isolate, including all staff who had been in contact with them at any point in the last day (or more)?

The answer to these three questions is ‘not necessarily’. The DfE's guidance states that if someone in school tests positive, the school should contact the local health protection team. The health protection team will carry out a rapid risk assessment to confirm who has been in close contact with the person during the period that they were infectious and ensure they are asked to self-isolate.

The local health protection team will work with schools in this situation to guide them through the actions they need to take. Based on the advice from the health protection team, schools are required to send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with that person when they were infectious.

ACS will implement the advice of local health protection teams when deciding who should be asked to isolate.

75. What if there are multiple cases?

22 Authorities have indicated that it is unlikely schools would be closed entirely because of a limited number of confirmed cases/ positive tests. However, ACS will implement the advice of the local health protection teams when deciding on any response at the group, grade level, divisional or school level.

If schools have two or more confirmed cases within 14 days, or an overall rise in sickness absence where coronavirus (COVID-19) is suspected, they may have an outbreak, and must continue to work with their local health protection team who will be able to advise if additional action is required.

In some cases, health protection teams may recommend that a larger number of other pupils self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole site or year group. If schools are implementing controls from this list, addressing the risks they have identified and therefore reducing transmission risks, whole school closure based on cases within the school will not generally be necessary, and should not be considered except on the advice of health protection teams.

In consultation with the local Director of Public Health, where an outbreak in a school is confirmed, a mobile testing unit may be dispatched to test others who may have been in contact with the person who has tested positive. Testing will first focus on the person’s class, followed by their year group, then the whole school if necessary, in line with routine public health outbreak control practice.

76. If students cannot attend school because they’re self-isolating, what’s the provision for them?

Teachers will work with students individually to help them remain connected to their classmates and make expected progress in the curriculum. A range of strategies exists to keep students learning, so teachers will not run separate online courses for students who temporarily cannot attend in person. In some situations, real-time streaming of course content and live interaction with the timetabled class can be both possible and desirable. However, teachers will not be expected to manage remote learners in the same way as students learning on campus.

77. Will students be sent home if they cough or have a runny nose?

People will continue to contract other illnesses which may have symptoms in common with coronavirus, and some effects of these illnesses can linger for some time after people are no longer infectious. We will continue to follow standard good practice that relies on the advice of family GPs and the school medical team about when it’s safe to be in school. The NHS provide information about coronavirus in children, the common cold, and flu. It is important to check for coronavirus symptoms: high fever, new and continuous cough, and a loss of taste/smell.

78. If I or someone in my household is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, and advised to self-isolate, do other members of the household or people I’ve come in contact with (including their school group ‘bubble’) have to self-isolate as well?

No. Contacts of contacts are not required to self-isolate unless they develop COVID-19 symptoms. Siblings and friends (or children and partner) of an asymptomatic self-isolating person can continue to attend school (assuming that they are well and have not been told to self-isolate for any other reason). We have received this advice directly from our local health protection team.

Contingency planning

79. What preparations are you making for distributed/ remote/ online learning in case groups have to self-isolate, or in case there is a local or more general/national shelter-in-place order (lockdown) that prohibits learning on campus?

We are making contingency plans to implement large-scale distance learning in which ACS will again be ready to support students learning remotely from home. Using online tools (including synchronous class sessions and interaction with teachers and peers). ACS teachers worked tirelessly in the spring to ensure continuity and continued progress for all learners. We learned a great deal from students’ experiences, parent feedback, and teachers’ innovative practice. In future distance learning scenarios, we will focus on improving:

  • Increasing student engagement and peer interaction
  • Building online community
  • Supporting parents of younger learners
  • Balancing student workload
  • Facilitating more efficient communication between teachers and students
  • Creating dependable and easy to use weekly and daily schedules that are consistent across classes
  • Standardising work flows (assignments and feedback)
  • Introducing additional educational technologies that support effective teaching and assessment practices.

80. How will we support individual students who are learning remotely while self-isolating or in quarantine?

Teachers will design strategies and interventions to ensure that students temporarily learning remotely can stay connected with their classmates and continue to meet their learning goals. This provision will vary depending on a wide range of circumstances, including the nature of the course, curriculum objectives, classroom protocols, learning design, relevant instructional materials and technology, the number of students affected, and available staffing.

Schools will work with parents and students to manage these situations in the most appropriate, reasonable and practicable ways possible. Each situation will require ingenuity and patience. As part of our back-to-school planning, we will talk with students about how to improve self-management skills and develop additional support for parents who are supervising learning at home.

Additional information

81. Where do I go if I have additional concerns about ACS’s COVID-19 security or my individual situation?

Please contact your Head of School or Divisional Principal (parents), or your line manager or HR partner (employees). Our community Health Citizenship Charter calls for respectful dialogue and responsible use of social media platforms.

82. How can I submit questions that might be useful to add to the community FAQ?

We welcome your input, constructive critique, and considerate engagement with these important matters of concern.

83. Where can I find specific FAQs and other resources for ACS employees?

Please see the HR intranet pages in PowerSchool Learning.

84. Where can I find support for staff mental health and wellbeing?

ACS UK faculty and staff have 24-7 access to a confidential helpline through our Employee Assistance Programme provided by Health Assured. For details, please see the HR intranet pages in PowerSchool Learning.


Maintaining safe COVID-secure facilities

  Maintaining safe COVID-secure facilities

Taking care of teachers, too

Taking care of teachers, too

Integrating educational technologies

Integrating educational technologies

Exploring the great outdoors

Exploring the great outdoors

Playing fresh-air games and sports

Playing fresh-air games and sports

Engaging visual and performing arts

Engaging visual and performing arts

Sanitisation stations dotted around campus

Sanitisation stations dotted around campus

Learning through service

Learning through service

Working with our community

Working with our community
I noticed that my girls and their friends were a little anxious about the start of the school year because of Covid. But as soon as school started all that nervousness disappeared. They are clearly very happy to be back and feel very comfortable and safe. I am sure that creating that safe environment hasn't happened by accident, but instead has required a lot of planning and organising, and being mindful about how you talk about the new arrangements. It very much feels like a normal start of a school year and instead of talking about the new safety measures at school, they talk about classes, friends, which teachers they have, i.e. all the normal stuff. Thank you again to you all for creating this environment.

Arrivals and visitors

All arrivals and departures at ACS Egham are managed by our fully-trained security team. Detailed procedures are all in place for the safe drop-off and pick-up of all students.

General visitors to the campus will not be admitted without the prior permission of the school. Visitors are not required to use face coverings, but may choose to. We require all visitors to maintain strict social distancing, hand sanitising, and respiratory hygiene.


Our Admissions teams are able to offer private virtual or on-campus tours and virtual open days for prospective families.

Please register here to book a private tour or open day