From blazers to hoodies – will Covid-19 change uniform?

Schools are considering changing strict uniform policies when they reopen to help in the fight against coronavirus

Emma Seith

Coronavirus: Schools could ditch uniforms when they reopen to help in the fight against coronavirus

Lathallan School, an independent day and boarding school in Scotland, prides itself on its “very high standard of traditional uniform”, says headmaster Richard Toley.

Girls are kitted out in shirts, ties, blazers and kilts, and boys in shirts, ties, blazers and smart trousers. But all that is set to change when the Scottish government deems it safe for schools to reopen, with plans afoot at Lathallan to ditch its strict dress code in favour of hoodies and jogging bottoms.

The school is proposing the adoption of a more casual look because it hopes to keep its pupils and teachers safe – and social distancing in place – post-lockdown by conducting the majority of lessons outside.

It also wants pupils to attend school in clothes that can easily be washed, should parents wish to launder clothes more regularly as a precaution against the transmission of coronavirus.


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Mr Toley said that a survey of parents had shown that over 90 per cent supported a move away from traditional uniform.

He added: “We will undoubtedly aim to return to our more formal style of uniform in the future, but in the current climate we are going to have to make significant changes. 

Coronavirus: Schools ditching uniforms

“The way we deliver education when we move back offline is going to change as we learn to live with the 'new normal' and, as such, we are also aiming to adapt our uniform.

“In the current climate of Covid-19, we don't feel it is currently practical or hygienic for our pupils to wear the high standard of uniform we have come to expect and to change in and out of outdoor clothing several times a day. 

"The safety and wellbeing of our pupils is paramount to Lathallan and we have to make changes to continue to look after them.”

Ian Anderson, the headteacher of Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow, is also considering moving from a uniform policy that involves the majority of pupils wearing a blazer to “civvies” when school reopens.

“We can’t really insist that pupils and staff wear items which would not normally be capable of being thrown in the wash at the end of the day, so civvies I think it’ll need to be,” said Mr Anderson.

He added that after being on duty in the local childcare hub he had moved from wearing a suit to more informal attire that could be thrown into the washing machine when he got home.  

In an interview with Tes Scotland, meanwhile, a public health expert has urged schools – when they reopen – to take learning outside where the risk of contracting coronavirus is “fairly minimal”.

Linda Bauld, a professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, said that in Denmark, where schools have started a phased return, marquees had been erected in school grounds to facilitate lessons outdoors.

However, changes to uniform policy that could prove expensive for families were not necessary, she advised.

Professor Bauld said: “There is no doubt that [coronavirus] can land on fabric and remain for some time – that’s why NHS workers either leave their clothes in a secure area or wash them as soon as they get home. However, school is not a high-risk environment and I certainly don’t think that kids can’t wear a blazer because it does not get washed every day.

“It’s about managing risk and this is not a major risk of transmission – also I’m not sure we can say to parents, particularly those with fewer resources, that their kids must wear a new uniform every day.”

Professor Bauld added that the three key actions for schools to take when they reopened were to ensure regular handwashing, conduct regular cleaning, and to practise social distancing.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for Tes Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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