We've been thinking long and hard about how we're going to be able to go back to work safely. We want to keep you updated with some of the things that we're going to do once we can teach again.
Unfortunately so far, the Government and DVSA have failed to give us any indication as to when we will be able to return to teaching. We are hoping to return by the beginning of July - watch this space! We will be in contact with all students to get lessons booked back in when we can do so safely.
Here are some of the steps that we will be taking once we can teach again...
We will ask you to sanitise your hands as soon as you get in the car, and you can do this again at the end of the lesson. All of our instructors will keep hand sanitiser in the car for both ours and yours use. We also suggest you wash your hands at home before and after the lesson as this is the best way to get rid of germs.
Cleaning the car
We will be cleaning the car before and after every lesson that we do, and we will be deep cleaning our cars at the end of each day. I love that we are personally in charge of cleaning and this is going to be controlled by us - rather than it being like a public shop where everyone is walking in and out, and cleaning would be difficult to manage effectively - whereas our cars are controlled environments and we will be ensuring we clean before and after each lesson, and again at the end of the day.
Masks and gloves
We are not going to be encouraging students to wear masks or gloves, for various reasons.
1. Communication can be an issue. Masks can muffle voices, and the last thing we want is for you to miss an important direction, instruction, or warning, from us! This could become a safety critical incident and that is not what we want.
2. If we had an accident that could be proved to be caused by a communication issue from using a mask, the insurance company may not pay out.
3. Masks are useless when used wrong, worn wrong, or used for too long. Most masks are only effective for 20-30 minutes, which is useless if we do a 1 hour lesson - let alone a 2 hour lesson!
4. Masks can become hot, sweaty, and itchy - this can become a massive distraction whilst you are trying to learn to drive.
5. We hope that by the time we do return to teaching, the risk of transmission is lower anyway - therefore naturally reducing the need for masks anyway.
6. Some other driving schools and instructors are using face visors - again this could be dangerous, and if an air bag goes off, this could cause significant damage to your face. I feel that if we have to use visors, masks or gloves, to reduce the transmission - then we shouldn't be teaching anyway!!
7. Gloves can also become hot, sweaty, and itchy - and they could also become slippy. Again this is a massive risk whilst you are driving - the last thing you want is your hands slipping on the steering wheel whilst trying to go round a roundabout!
8. There is a massive risk of cross contamination with gloves. Gloves would have to be sterile when you put them on, and you should then change your gloves after every 'task' that you do. I relate this to when I worked in a hospital - I would use 3 or 4 pairs of gloves PER PATIENT! The best thing we can do is to NOT use gloves, and to use hand sanitiser when possible, and washing your hands before and after the lesson.
However, if you do wish to wear a mask and gloves, that is your choice and that is ok.
We hope this explains why we will not be using masks and gloves - please let us know if you have any questions.
Disposal of wipes and other PPE
This will be kept in a bag and kept in the boot, to try and reduce the risk of COVID-19 particles being in the main car space. Instructors will safely dispose of this bag at the end of each day.
We will not be putting plastic partitions between the instructor and driver's seat. If they cover the full length of the car, then we would not be able to reach the steering wheel in the event of an emergency. If it was a half partition to allow us to reach the steering wheel, then virus particles could still get round the partition! Also, our insurance will not cover a plastic partition as a modification, and if we were involved in an accident, that plastic partition will do some serious damage. Therefore, we will not be using a plastic partition.
We are going to introduce a cleaning log. Our instructors will fill this cleaning log out every time they wipe down and deep clean the car. Wipe downs will be done before and after every lesson, and deep cleans will be at the end of each day.
You are more than welcome to ask your instructor to see this log, to check that the car has been cleaned regularly and before your lesson. We hope this helps our students feel safer, safe in the knowledge that our instructors are being responsible and cleaning the car regularly, with the documents as evidence.
Facing each other
The Government has been clear that facing each other increases the risk of transmission. As instructors, we will make sure that we are using our little 'eye' mirrors (one of our additional mirrors on our side) so that we can see you and check that you're checking your mirrors, watch your facial expressions to see if you're worried about something, etc - rather than looking at you directly to see this.
When we are chatting at the beginning/during/end of the lesson whilst stopped, we will do our best not to face you directly. However, we don't really want to be teaching and talking to you if we can't actually look at you as we enjoy the face to face communication with you! So at the point we go back to work, we hope that the risk is reduced enough to allow us to do this.
There has been a lot of talk about windows being left open to allow for air flow. Unfortunately this can create a lot of noise especially when driving at speed. This can cause communication and safety issues, therefore we will not be making a point of opening windows on all lessons. If we are doing manoeuvres and/or moving at slow speeds, then we can and will open windows to allow for air flow, so long as it doesn't cause any communication or safety issues.
Lesson lengths and times
We will still be providing 1 hour, 1.5 hour, and 2 hour lessons. We will be allowing extra time between lessons to allow for cleaning. This may mean that we won't be able to do as many lessons in a day, however will we be doing our best and we hope this won't impact on the number of lessons we can do per day - but we have to be safe and responsible.
Due to the increased risk, we will not be allowing passengers on lessons. This means friends, family members, partners etc will not be allowed on lessons with you. This is for everyone's safety and we're sure you'll understand. We will review this in 6 weeks time and take government guidelines into account, but at the moment, having additional passengers in the car is an added, unnecessary risk.
If you have any virus symptoms (high temperature, cough, loss of taste/smell), you must contact your instructor and cancel your lesson - Government guidance currently says anyone with symptoms must self isolate for 7 days - so we will also cancel any other lessons that you have booked within the next 7 days.
If you have had a driving lesson and then develop symptoms within the next few days, please contact your instructor to let us know that you have developed symptoms so that we can take appropriate action.
If your instructor develops any virus symptoms, they will contact you and cancel your lessons, and they will self isolate for 7 days too.
If we are made aware of any students who have had driving lessons and gone on to develop symptoms shortly after, or if our instructor develops symptoms, we will ensure the car is deep cleaned before returning to work.
This is your responsibility to tell us. As a growing driving school, we have over 200 students throughout our instructors, and we do not have the capacity to message every student before their lesson to see if they have symptoms - so this is YOUR responsibility as our students to tell us if you are unwell and/or have any virus symptoms. Taking driving lessons will be at your own risk.
We stopped accepting cash payments in January 2020 when one of our instructors was given fake cash. The Government has said that handling cash is risky due to the virus, so we will continue not to accept cash. We will ONLY accept bank payments, unless there is a good reason why you cannot pay by bank transfer.
PLEASE NOTE: 3 of our instructors have changed their bank accounts during the lockdown period so PLEASE contact your instructor and make sure you have their new bank details.
Laura got a little excited when her new business bank card matched the colour of her car lol!
Many of our students had tests booked before the lockdown started. The DVSA have changed driving tests many times so we are urging all of our students who had tests booked to check your emails and junk emails again to make sure you haven't missed any emails from DVSA. If you have a test booked, can you PLEASE MESSAGE US WITH THE DATE OF YOUR TEST AGAIN - even if you have already told us. PLEASE tell us again - just so we can check we have the correct dates and times as we are aware they have been changed a few times. You can also forward your booking confirmation email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or text her the details on 07982 493422.
At the moment, tests are supposed to resume on 22nd June - however we do not think this will happen, and it is highly likely that tests will be moved again. Please keep us updated of any changes to your test dates.
We really hope this helps you understand what will happen when we are allowed to teach again. We are doing everything we can to keep you and us safe - and we are here for you. If you have any questions, PLEASE contact us. The best person to message is Laura on 07982 493422. Even if you just want to message and say hi, please do! We've loved hearing from many of you over the last few weeks and it's great to hear from you :)