ADVICE FOR CONTRACTORS AND SCHOOLS REGARDING COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS)
The current advice for Educational Establishments provided by Public Health England can be found on the GOV.UK website.
The advice provided in this document is meant to complement advice provided by Public Health England or the Government and may be subject to change should that advice change.
All contractors on the B4Schools Frameworks should have a policy in respect of Covid-19. This policy should take account of and supplement any policies already in place. This should be made available to all sites where they provide a service and to B4Schools Ltd. The policy should include information and advice for staff and the process they will follow should a member of their staff test positive for the virus. This should include advising the establishments where that member of staff is employed so the necessary actions can be taken in accordance with current advice from Public Health and Central Government.
Schools will need to follow their own guidelines and specific policy and should make this available to contractors. Any policy should include the process to be followed should anyone within the school test positive for the virus and the school is closed as a result of such an incident.
Roles and Responsibilities and financial implications
CLEANING and GARDEN MAINTENANCE.
Where a school closes due to the virus this is likely to be considered as a Force Majeure. The contract provides that:
In the event of an act of god or force majeure to include acts of government, fire, tempest, acts of war and related matters (but shall not include industrial action by the Contractor’s employees, servants or agents) which are beyond the control of the Contractor which causes the cessation of the Services, the duty of the Contractor shall be suspended until such circumstances have ceased. The school shall not be liable to make payment to the Contractors in respect of such suspension.
However whilst the school or trust may not be liable to make payment in respect of any incurred costs that otherwise would be payable if they remained open (where force majeure is effected) it is likely to still be liable to make payments in respect of any additional costs such as fixed or capital costs which are spread or depreciated over the term of the contract.
This would, however, only apply if the school was told to close by the authorities and not if they took a unilateral decision to close without such advice. In this instance payment in full should still be made to the contractor.
If an additional deep clean is required or requested after an incidence of the virus this would be payable from the schedule of rates (or an estimate will be provided) in addition to the usual service provided.
The situation regarding Force Majeure will still apply as above however this would be treated slightly differently for catering. The contract states:
Where, for whatever reason the service is disrupted (for example snow days) without due ………. resulting in the take up of pupil lunches reducing below that which is deemed reasonable and or no more than 10% below the average of the previous week for a school or number of schools the contractor shall be entitled to make reasonable requests for fixed costs reimbursement in line with average number of meals served.
Schools will still receive payment for the UFMS and FSM elements and it is therefore not unreasonable for a payment to be made on that basis.
Should a contractor be unable to deliver a service due to staff shortages as a result of the Virus (after any alternative arrangements have been considered and discussed N.B. B4Schools can assist in this dialogue) the school will not be liable to make payment. However it should be noted that it is for contractors to make decisions about their own employees and their suitability to work. If a school decides that contractors staff pose a risk and request that they be removed from the site the school will bear the cost and any repercussions which result from this.
Given we are entering uncertain times and unknown territory there are likely to be many questions and difficulties to overcome. B4Schools will do their utmost to keep all parties advised and keep its guidance and information up to date on the web pages. In terms of the contracts B4Schools will monitor the situation as it unfolds and provide appropriate support where requested.