COVID19 Outdoors

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

In March 2021 the Scottish Government Advisory Sub-Group on Education  “considered the scope for an enhanced wellbeing and outdoor learning package for secondary aged pupils, to support their readiness to return to in-school learning and to provide experiences to support wellbeing. Given continued consistent evidence that risks of transmission outdoors are low, and the benefits of outdoor activity are well recognised, the sub-group was very supportive of an increased emphasis on as much outdoor activity as possible as we progress through the phases of return and into sustained recovery.


East Ayrshire likewise emphasised outdoor learning in our education safety handbook and provided a generic COVID-19 Outdoor activities & school visits to aid school planning.

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.

When LOST staff visit your establishment (or take your pupils off-site) they will follow COVID-19 Outdoor activities & school visits.

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.

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