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Restarting Lessons After Covid

The government and DVSA have given Driving Instructors permission to resume training, and we have already contacted all of our pupils to discuss lesson appointments. Here is an update on the very latest guidance from NASP and DIA about the changes aimed at keeping everyone safe because of COVID-19:

  • Driving lessons can only be delivered in the driving school car. This may be the same for driving tests, but the DVSA has not yet confirmed this.

  • We will ‘deep clean’ our cars within 72 hours of starting to teach our first lessons and will continue to do so regularly.

  • Before each lesson starts we need to have a conversation to assess whether you are well enough. You need to confirm that you haven’t had symptoms of Coronavirus or been with anyone with symptoms over the previous 14 days, and that you, or anyone you have been in contact with, has not travelled from a high risk region. We will need to know if you have had Covid-19, have been tested for it, and have had results of the test? Tell us if you are in a household of family members that are in the enhanced risk health categories and are shielding. Do you have a continuous cough, a fever or high temperature? Are there any health issues, physical or mental, which may impact your ability to drive? If we are not 100% happy with your state of health or demeanour the lesson will have to be postponed until you have recovered.

  • If you, or anyone you are living with, have any symptoms you must cancel your driving lesson before your lesson start time. Once cancelled you will not be able to restart your lessons until you have been tested negative, or follow the Government isolation recommendations. The same rules apply for us.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds immediately before your lesson.

  • Between lessons we will have cleaned down our car door handles inside and out, windows and mirror controls, seat and head restraints, seatbelt and its connection, gear lever, steering wheel, indicator and wiper stalks, car keys and training resources.

  • We will have also just used sanitiser and won’t shake your hand to greet you.

  • Make sure you wear suitable clothing that covers as much of you as possible, including arms and legs: wear long sleeves and trousers and don’t wear open-toed shoes.

  • The car windows will be open to some degree during the lesson to allow for ventilation, even in wet weather, so wear appropriate clothes, as it might be cooler in the car. If you have longer hair, you may wish to tie this back so that it doesn’t blow in your face with the windows open.

  • We will avoid using the air-conditioning or the recirculated air function, as this is particularly risky at present.

  • During the lesson we will have breaks for fresh air, and some of our discussions may be held outside of the car, which is a little different to what you have been used to. If it is raining, please bring your own compact umbrella or raincoat.

  • Wherever possible, avoid bringing unnecessary coats or bags to the lesson: if this can’t be avoided you will need to place items inside a plastic bag in the boot to help reduce the risk of infection.

  • All items such as mobile phones and house keys will have to stay on your person and cannot be put into the vehicle’s storage areas or door pockets.

  • If you want to wear disposable gloves, put them on just before getting into the car. They must be a fresh pair for the lesson and should be disposed of at the end. General advice is that good hand hygiene is better than gloves, which provide a false sense of security.

  • You may use a face mask or covering; advice on their effectiveness varies, but if it makes you feel more comfortable during the lesson then the option is there. If you use a mask, make sure it’s a new one and be aware that even cloth face masks can hamper communication and can make spectacles fog up.

  • It is essential that the PPE equipment you choose does not impede your ability to control the vehicle or communicate. Do not use a plastic face visor: it could be dangerous if it mists up or if an airbag is deployed.

  • We will not be supplying gloves or masks, so you will need to bring your own if you wish to wear them.

  • Lesson content and structure will remain the same as before, with client-centred aims and objectives appropriate for you. We will assess your current capabilities and may decide to revisit some skills, techniques and knowledge due to the considerable amount of time since your last lesson.

  • You may be asked to undertake another eyesight check and read a number plate at a distance of 20.5m.

  • We will keep any visual aids or teaching materials on our side of the car so that only we will touch them.

  • Most writing will be done by us so that we avoid sharing a pen. If you do need to use our pen, we will clean it immediately with anti-bacterial wipes.

  • We will avoid directly facing each other throughout the lesson: it is safer to face forwards in the vehicle to reduce potential spread of the virus. 

  • If we need to touch the controls during the lesson we will pull over at the earliest convenience and sanitise them again.

  • At the end of the lesson we will again wipe down the car.

  • You will need to sanitise your hands again before exiting the vehicle (you can use your own sanitiser or ours).

  • When back at home / work, wash your hands thoroughly for a minimum of 20 seconds. It may be advisable for you to change all of your clothes on return to home and wash them to help protect your household.

If you are going for a driving test:

  • Theory test centres in England will resume service on 4th July.

  • Remember that all tests rescheduled from before lockdown have now be taken out of the system (which  currently remains closed to new bookings) and placed in a 'holding' system. This has been designed to be fair and to prioritise those students who have been waiting the longest for tests, as well as giving trainers and pupils a better opportunity to ensure sufficient training has taken place before the test. From the week commencing 13th July, DVSA will contact you to invite you to rebook your test, rather than issuing you with a new date and time. New test dates will commence on 22nd July. It is important that you speak with us first before booking your new test date, so that we do not get ‘double-booked’. Not all test centres will reopen immediately.

  • Before the test we will wipe down the examiner’s side of the vehicle.

  • Due to social distancing measures, test centre waiting rooms and toilets will be unavailable. Toilet facilities will only be available in exceptional circumstances for those with a disability, medical condition or pregnancy.

  • We must arrive no earlier than 5 minutes before the test, and I will have to wait outdoors during your test, as I am not allowed to accompany or observe your test. The examiner will meet and greet us in the car park.

  • Participating in the NHS Test & Trace initiative is a requirement for taking a practical test. The examiner will ask you; “Can you confirm that you are taking part in the Government test and trace or similar national initiative and that you are happy for your details to be passed to the relevant tracing authority if needed for Covid-19 tracing purposes?”

  • Should you not be taking part in the test and trace initiative, the test cannot go ahead. Details can be found at:

  • A strict hand-washing regime is likely to be in place at all test centres and examiners will wear face coverings. 

  • You must also wear a face covering for the duration of the test, unless you provide a good reason not to when booking the test. This includes physical or mental illness, impairment or disability that means you cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering. The test will be cancelled if you refuse to wear a face covering and did not give a reason at the time of booking.

  • You may be asked to temporarily remove your face covering to confirm your identity. If the examiner feels that your PPE is interfering with the test, the examiner will offer advice to resolve this but, if it persists, may terminate the test on safety grounds. 

  • You will be asked to sign a separate piece of paper, rather than the test report, to confirm the insurance and residency declaration, and as part of the usual identity check. Please bring your own pen.

  • The contents of the test in terms of manoeuvres etc. has not changed, although extra time has been made for each test.

  • If you arrive with clear Covid-19 symptoms, the test will not go ahead. If you become unwell or start to cough continuously, the test will be stopped.

  • We will not be allowed to accompany the test and may not be allowed to attend at the end of test debrief, unless social distancing can be maintained.

  • If you fail the test by committing a serious or dangerous fault or by making 16 driving faults, the examiner will terminate the test at that point in the interest of public safety and direct you back to the test centre. You will not carry out any additional test requirements but any faults identified on the route back to the test centre will continue to be assessed and recorded. The examiner will not alert you to the outcome of the test until arriving back at the test centre.

  • In many cases it is likely that this will mean arriving back at the test centre having not fully completed the test. During the debrief it will be explained to you that the test has been curtailed following the point at which the test had been failed, and continuing the test would have made no difference to the outcome. 

We hope that this all makes sense to you. Please contact us if you would like any further information. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you for lessons, if you have confirmed that you are happy to proceed. Stay safe, and best wishes from the team at Shire.

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