October 12, 2021
  • October 12, 2021

Rental of school facilities and COVID-19

By on June 24, 2020 0

How to optimize your use and your return on capital, while ensuring security and compliance

With the return to campus, many schools are considering how they can ensure optimal use of school facilities, while still meeting social distancing requirements and hygiene obligations.

Now that the restrictions are relaxed, face-to-face teaching has resumed and life is returning to a new ‘normal’, other aspects of the functioning of school facilities must be taken into account.

This includes the rental of school facilities such as halls, gymnasiums and other spaces within the school to external community groups and other users.

In short, schools can still rent the school hall (and other facilities) to third parties, but all activity restrictions, social distancing rules, and other restrictions apply. It is important to note that these are the responsibility of the tenant, but the school also has an obligation to maintain a safe environment.

Because you owe a duty of care to students, you must conduct a risk assessment for any resumption of activities on campus and have the means to terminate non-conforming arrangements. This will likely require additional provisions in your rental conditions.

To ensure compliance with the VRQA minimum standards for the operation of a non-profit school, schools are required to have a compliant policy in place regarding the rental of its facilities to third party groups or organizations in all cases. . This may also require additional arrangements.

When considering employment conditions, schools should consider issues such as:

  • Impose tenant liability for compliance with COVID restrictions – ensure there is tenant agreement to comply (more advice on restrictions can be found here).
  • Implications of tenant violation of COVID restrictions.
  • Who will pay for the additional cleaning, especially in the case of a positive test returned by someone who attended school as part of a third party group and a deep cleaning is required before facilities can be used.
  • Whether there is a risk of liability for the school if a participant contracts COVID during the event
  • All other usual requirements, including child safety.

You should also consider the time between multiple events (one hour for dispersal and cleanup), so planning is important.

In addition to the above regarding indoor facilities, on June 21, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines state that schools may approve the use of outdoor facilities on property. school for sports purposes. and recreation by community sports clubs and groups if the following conditions are met.

  • Any club or community sports group using the school facilities must agree to abide by the current advice (DHHS) (as amended from time to time) for sports and exercise, including the type (s) authorized activity and the maximum number of participants.
  • Physical distancing must be maintained at all times, regardless of the age of the participants.
  • Adherence to current DHHS guidance is required regardless of any pre-existing or previous agreements made with a club or community sports group.
  • Only one group of participants is allowed to use one facility at a time (eg basketball court or oval).
  • Facilities should not be made available to a community sports group if a physical distance (at least 1.5 meters from each other) cannot be maintained, for example due to the size of the club. installation or the proximity of the installation to other installations that are or will be used.
  • If multiple sessions are to take place one after the other, there should be a break of at least 15 minutes between each session to avoid congregating multiple groups at a school site. For this reason, participants should also be informed that they should not arrive before the scheduled start time or stay after the scheduled end time.
  • School facilities cannot be used by local sports clubs or community groups within 30 minutes of the start or end of the school day. This is to avoid unnecessary mixing with other members of the school community.
  • Access to outdoor facilities should be arranged so that participants do not encounter any staff or students remaining on school premises, for example, for out-of-hours care programs.
  • Changing rooms cannot be used (except for the toilets). When a toilet is used, it should be cleaned before the next school day.
  • No sports equipment belonging to the school may be used. Community and sports groups should use their own equipment, and it should be maintained in accordance with DHHS guidance.
  • A register of the people present at each session must be kept by the community group and given to the school. This should include the names of the people, their phone numbers and the dates and times of their presence.
  • In the event of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the school community, all access to school facilities should immediately cease while contact tracing and cleaning of school premises is undertaken, on the advice of DHHS.

When renting its facilities, a school should be able to clearly articulate its requirements, ensure that these requirements are incorporated into the general rental conditions, and clearly state that failure to comply will result in termination of the requirements. agreements with non-compliant contractors.

Ultimately, schools must be able to manage the risk of third parties using their facilities and must be able to ensure that these facilities continue to be safe for their students.

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