Who would have ever thought outdoors is safer than indoors?
Research confirms this. One medical paper suggests 18.7 times more likely to transmit COVID19 indoors than outdoors. Another found 2 out of 1245 cases occurred outdoors. A third found, a possible correlation between good weather and a decrease in disease spread, as people spend longer time outdoors.
Why is outdoors safer? Transmission seems to occur through two routes; inhaling airborn virus and ingestion after touching common surfaces. Ventilation and dispersion is key outdoors, reducing the viruses concentration levels as the weather moves air around. The wind could be thought to spread the virus however it seems a certain concentration dosage is required which is harder to achieve with no containing walls or ceiling outside. Research suggests that surface transmission may be reduced on rougher natural surfaces compared to smooth shiny surfaces and also the suns UV light is thought to reduces the viruses transmittable viability significantly.
Scottish Government have issued guidance to promote outdoor learning during school return. “The outdoors can provide extra space for distancing between consistent groups of learners, help to decrease the risk of transmission and improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of young people.” page 27
Scottish Government’s School visits and trips guidance require schools use their existing safety systems but also consider wider advice, transport, hygiene, grouping, physical distancing , whether pupils have the capacity to comply with the anti COVID measures in place at venue, whether insurance in place for the trip provides COVID-19 cover. International visits are prohibited and Overnight visits restricted in the 2021 autumn term. Scottish Government endorsed guidance to support and encourage day visits to outdoor centres.
The outdoor hazards and risks are still there. As such the Education Service Safety Management system must still be applied for all off site school visits in addition to any Covid controls.
EAC’s travel insurance policy is currently under review. As such it must be assumed going forward that any visit bookings made will be excluded from cancellation cover due to pandemic impact, as such this may represent a significant financial risk that must be factored and communicated with participants/parents.
You may find this resource from Play Scotland useful.