The issues we are now facing in education have never been encountered before, and indeed all areas of society face difficult challenges. The reopening of all education settings must be led by medical and scientific evidence to ensure that it is done in a way that is safe for our pupils, our staff and wider society. The health and well-being of the children and young people in our care and all our staff is our primary concern.
These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are intended to provide parents and carers with the latest information on the return to youth work settings. The plans for the return to education settings are subject to change as we respond to the latest public health advice therefore, these FAQs will be updated when new information is available.
Youth work settings have also been given guidance on practical issues to ensure safety of children and young people, youth workers and volunteers. Like schools, the physical circumstances of each youth setting will be different.
Returning to Youth Work Settings
What youth services are currently available?
While most face to face youth work stopped from 20 March, some services continued, including those for young people considered as at risk, and with many services switching on-line. Details of current services are available under the Covid-19 Youth Services Support Section of the Education Authority website
Approval has been given for voluntary youth work providers to deliver summer activity plans for young people who they consider would most benefit from the provision on offer but only where it is safe to do so. To avoid any risk of spreading the infection, any plans must adhere to the restrictions that are in place at the time of delivery (recognising that these are subject to change).
What is envisaged is not a return to normal summer programme delivery, but rather youth work led activity to engage young people who have been most challenged by the restrictions, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This is entirely voluntary and youth providers will decide if and what activity they plan to deliver, but only where they are confident they can do so safely.
When can children and young people attend youth work settings?
With the exception of this summer activity, most youth work will not recommence before the autumn (subject to any restrictions) and will be done so in a gradual and phased way in line with the Executive’s recovery strategy and public health guidance. Further information is available under Youth Restart in the Youth Services Support Section of the Education Authority website.
Will all young people re-start in their youth club/group at the same time?
Local youth workers will advise on individual arrangements. This will depend on the individual setting, taking into account numbers of young people that can be accommodated in a way that complies with social distancing and other regulations, availability of youth workers and volunteers (some of whom may be considered clinically vulnerable due to an underlying health condition, age (over 70) or pregnant, living with someone who is clinically vulnerable; those who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and have been advised to self-isolate, etc).
What if I am not content for my child/young person to attend their youth club/group?
Engagement in youth work is entirely voluntary. However, youth work helps develop personal and social skills as well as providing fun and engaging activities that young people benefit from. You can speak to the leader or youth worker about your concerns and they can tell you what steps are being taken to ensure a safe environment.
What protective measures will be in place in youth clubs/groups?
As with schools, young people and youth workers will be advised to wash their hands as soon as they arrive at the premises and regularly through the day. For any who require assistance youth workers should help and follow the guidance on personal protection equipment (PPE) as appropriate. Youth work staff and volunteers can help support the changes we all have to carry out by:
- encouraging regular hand washing.
- discouraging touching of eyes, face, nose and mouth and putting hands/fingers into mouths.
- Encouraging coughing into your elbow if you don’t have a tissue / paper towel.
- encouraging use of tissue/paper towel if available and disposing of it safely into the nearest bin.
Will Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) be needed in youth clubs/groups?
PPE will only be required in a very small number of cases, such as working with young people who require intimate care needs and administering medication.
PPE should not be worn by children.
Will social distancing be applied in youth clubs/groups?
Social distancing will be applied in accordance with the Executive’s guidance.
Will there be more cleaning in youth work settings?
Cleaning will be carried out in accordance with Public Health Agency Guidance and routine cleaning will take place daily, with regular cleaning of door handles, desk tops etc. Further details can be found on guidance to support safe working in educational settings.
What will happen if a young person starts to display symptoms of Covid-19 while in at their youth club/group?
Young People and staff at youth centres should be continually supported to understand the symptoms to look for and clear advice should be provided on how to respond if symptoms become apparent while on-site.
If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature/fever or anosmia (a loss or a change in your normal sense of smell, which can also affect your sense of taste) the young person will be isolated, parent, carer or guardians contacted and advised to collect their child. Parent, carer or guardian will be advised to follow the guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.
Youth Centres will keep a full record of such actions and request a parent / carer / guardian record their acknowledgement of this action.
A young person awaiting collection should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Appropriate adult supervision should be provided as required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate the child, move them to an area which is at least 2m away from other people. A risk assessment should be undertaken by the youth work setting to address this.
When can I drop off/pick up my child from their youth club/group?
This will vary but local leaders/youth workers will be able to provide advice as regards the particular circumstances.
The arrangements for dropping off and collecting will require careful consideration, to ensure that large gatherings outside youth work premises can be avoided. You should not enter buildings unless required.
It may be necessary to introduce staggered drop off/pick up times, so that not all young people arrive at the same time.
If there is more than one access point, consideration may be given to whether it would be beneficial to open these to reduce congestion or to operate a one way system.