Blended placements/provision of meals and snacks
In order to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, attendance at multiple ELC settings should be reduced as far as possible. Parents and carers should be encouraged and supported to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally ensuring their child only attends the same setting consistently.
However, the balance of scientific advice supports the use of more settings where required to ensure high quality childcare is available to children and in support of parents’ need. For children who attend multiple settings, either ELC settings or childminders, consideration should be given to how they are supported to ensure good hygiene practices (washing hands, not sharing resources, etc.) when moving between settings, and how their contacts with other groups of children are managed, based on an appropriate risk assessment in each setting.
Where a child attends more than one setting, consideration should be given to record keeping of the other setting(s), to assist with any Test & Protect process (see below section on Test & Protect). Any records should be GDPR compliant.
It is important to continue to ensure that mealtimes are a relaxed and enjoyable time where children can socialise, while implementing practical approaches to prevent the spread and control of infection.
Staff should follow usual good hygiene practices when preparing or serving food or assisting children with packed lunches. There is no need for additional PPE at meal and snack times.
ELC providers may wish to consider the following potential approaches to minimising interaction between groups at dining times and dealing with associated logistical issues. Arrangements in each setting may depend on whether food is being prepared on the premises and if the children normally eat inside a shelter or in an open outdoor space. You may wish to consider:
- increasing the space for dining or implementing staggered dining arrangements, with children eating in their arranged cohorts and/or entering the dining area in these cohorts
- having set snack times for cohorts
- whether it would be beneficial for children to stay in play spaces to eat
- limiting the number of staff using staffrooms and bases at any one time