Guidelines on making school facilities available to State bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic

Guidelines on making school facilities available to State bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic

These guidelines are not intended to be exhaustive, but are an attempt to provide guidance on the key issues that need to be considered.   It is recognised that the management of school premises at local level is a matter for the relevant school authority.


Among the issues to be considered are:

  1. Governance arrangements, including designated persons
  2. Property owner’s consent
  3. Clear delineation of area(s) to be used by the State body
  4. Insurance
  5. Compliance with legislation (Health & Safety, Fire, public health, data protection)
  6. Public Health
  7. Utility costs
  8. Security matters
  9. Issues to be addressed in any agreement with the State body for the temporary use of the school
  10. Notifying the Department


  1. Governance arrangements:

Identification of the appropriate individual principal/chairperson of the board of management or designated Board member who will have responsibility for monitoring/overseeing the process, reporting to the Board, notifying the Department and liaising with the other State body.

A designated liaison person from the State body should also be identified at the outset.

  1. Property Owner’s consent

A request for use of school facilities by a third party (even another State body) should be formally approved by the school property owner.  Schools are held under a variety of different ownerships.  The school may be:

  • Owned by the Minister – The Minister is owner of a number of school properties, particularly those schools established and built in the past 20 years. If you are certain that your school property is Minister-owned, you can take it that the Minister’s consent is forthcoming and there is no need to seek it specifically where a state body is seeking to use school facilities as part of the State’s response to COVID-19.


  • Owned by the ETB: If your school property is owned by an ETB, you need to seek the ETB’s consent via your regular ETB contact.


  • The bulk of established primary schools and voluntary secondary schools are owned by either Diocesan Trusts or religious orders. The consent of the particular Diocesan trust or religious order is necessary to the use of the property.



  • If your school property is leased (e.g. temporary accommodation) you are required to operate within the terms of the relevant lease.


  • If your school is built under the Public Private Partnership scheme and its use is requested by another State body, please make direct contact with the Department via


  1. Clear delineation of area(s) to be used by the State body

The area to be used should be clearly defined and self-contained.  All personal records of staff and students should be secured properly and there should be no public access to them.  All IT equipment should be secured properly and no access to it.


  1. Insurance Arrangements

The State Claims Agency (SCA) manages personal injury and third-party property damage claims taken against State bodies covered by the State’s General Indemnity Scheme.

The Department has consulted with the State Claims Agency and the main insurers for schools. Following these consultations the Department understands that the position in respect of indemnity of state bodies seeking to use school facilities as part of the response of the State to the COVID-19 pandemic  is that the State’s General Indemnity Scheme provides cover for claims that may arise in respect of use of the school in connection with the response to COVID-19 by these state bodies. State bodies such as the HSE and An Garda Síochána are covered by the General Indemnity Scheme. Schools who are approached by other state bodies should seek a copy of the Confirmation Statement issued by the State Claims Agency to ensure that the body which has made a request for use of school facilities is listed as one of the bodies covered by the General Indemnity Scheme.


The main insurance companies used by schools, Allianz and IPB have informed the Department that the school’s insurance policy will continue to cover their Property Owner’s Liability. This will cover the school’s legal liability in respect of their duty as property owners to upkeep and maintain their property i.e. property defects. If your school is not insured by Allianz or IPB you should contact your insurer for clarification.



  1. Compliance with legislation (Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act, Fire Safety regulations, Public health, Data Protection)

As an occupier, the Board of Management owes a duty of care to those entering school premises and at a minimum should maintain properties including access and egress routes in good condition. Access for persons with disabilities should be addressed, if required. The Board of Management is responsible for ensuring the premises are provided in safe condition.

Fire Safety and evacuation measures should be advised to the State body;

Where there is night- time use, adequate lighting and security may need to be provided by the State body.


  1. Public Health Issues

The guidance of the public health authorities should be sought where any heath issue is identified. Please see for contact details.



  1. Utility and cleaning costs

Written agreement should be obtained in advance as to how the cost of light, heat, water, broadband etc. are to be met by the State body for the duration of the body’s use of the school facilities.  There should be no cost accruing to the school as a result of the use of the premises by the State body


Arrangements as to deep cleaning of school facilities in use by the State body should be agreed in advance where appropriate. Where deep cleaning is to take place in advance of the school re-opening or for use of the school for examination purposes adequate time should be allowed to vacate the school facilities to allow the deep cleaning to take place without any delay to the re-opening of the school or access to the school for examinations.


  1. Security

If the school has a security service in operation, appropriate notification procedures should be put in place with the security firm;


  1. Issues to be addressed in any agreement with the State body for the temporary use of the school

Any legal agreement to be put in place is a matter for the relevant Property Owner or Patron/Trustees as appropriate.  It is a matter for the signatories of a legal agreement to obtain legal advice.

The agreement which is entered into should take account of the following requirements:

  • Usage should not affect school work in any way;
  • Usage should not result in a net cost to the school or the Department;
  • Applicants for use of school facilities should provide the Board with full information and should be from bodies covered by the General Indemnity Scheme with a responsible person nominated by the State body to take charge of the activity;
  • Commencement date;
  • Nominal fee ;
  • Defined areas of use including access routes, key holder responsibilities;
  • Hours of use;
  • Opt-out clause for either party;
  • Indemnity for Patron/Property owner and Board of Management in respect of any claims whatsoever arising from use of the premises by the applicant body;
  • Maintenance/repair obligations of the applicant body to ensure the premises is kept clean and tidy condition and not cause any damage. To repair any damage if so caused or reimburse the Board of management for any repairs they have to make as a consequence of the use of the premises by the applicant body;
  • Health and safety: It should ensure that health and safety procedures are clearly demonstrated and there is agreement from the applicant body to comply with such procedures including the use of alarms, evacuation procedures, fire safety procedures etc.;
  • Compliance with relevant legislation and guidelines;
  • Public health requirements – social distancing etc.
  • The agreement should not confer on the applicant body any legal estate or interest in the said school premises or any part of it;
  • The applicant body should not be permitted to assign the benefit of the agreement;
  • They should contain appropriate termination clauses and renunciations where relevant;
  • The agreement should be signed and dated.



  1. Notifying the Department

The Designated Contact person for the school must complete the form attached at Appendix A and e-mail the completed form to  where the school has decided to make their school facilities available to a State body during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Roll Number, name and location of the school should be included in the subject line of the e-mail.



The above list is not intended to be exhaustive or a comprehensive guide to all issues. Neither do they constitute legal advice.  If you require legal advice, you should contact your legal advisor.





Notification to the Department of Education and Skills where school authorities decide to make their school facilities available to a State body during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The form below is to be completed and emailed to


 Guidelines on making school facilities available to State bodies during COVID-19 Form