Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services

Non-statutory guidance for early learning and childcare (ELC) providers in the local authority, private and third sectors to support a safe reopening of these settings during Phase 3.

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services
Physical distancing between adults

Physical distancing between adults

Physical distancing between adults in the setting

Physical distancing between adults remains a fundamental protective measure that should apply at all times. Individual physical distancing applies to staff, parents (and any other adults who may attend the setting) and any external contractors or delivery people. It is essential that all these groups are taken into consideration.

Adults in settings should stay 2 metres apart in line with physical distancing principles.

All staff rooms, bases and offices should be reconfigured to ensure the physical distancing rule of 2 metres is able to be maintained.

Where adults cannot keep 2 metres distance from other adults, and are interacting face-to-face with other adults for 15 minutes or more, face coverings should be worn. In other circumstances, adults should not need to wear face coverings.  Some children may need additional support/reassurance about the reasons for adults wearing face coverings. Face coverings should not be required for most children or adults (those clinically advised to wear a covering would be an exception). 

The wellbeing and needs of the child, should remain a focus of attention with a recognition that face coverings can limit communication, which young children often rely on with the ability to view faces and non-verbal cues being important to learn effectively. 

The use of face masks could have an impact for children with additional support needs (which includes any level of hearing loss). These impacts should be carefully considered as communication for these learners relies on the ability to see a person’s face clearly. This is also important for children who are acquiring English and who rely on visual cues to enable them to be included in learning.

However, staff wishing to wear face protection should be enabled to do so. Should the prevalence of the virus in the population start rising, nationally or in parts of Scotland, guidance may change to encourage the wearing of face coverings more routinely, especially among adults in ELC settings, as part of an enhanced system of approaches to reduce transmission. 

Drop off and pick up

The arrangements for parents to drop off and collect children requires careful consideration, to ensure that large gatherings of people can be avoided, and physical distancing maintained. Physical distancing between staff and other adults in the settings (including parents) must be adhered to at all times.

Most children can be placed in the care of staff with adults maintaining a 2 metres distance. It is recognised that in some cases, a physical handover of very young children will be required. However, where possible parents should not enter buildings.

Some approaches that local authorities and ELC providers should consider include the following:

  • Staggered and allocated drop off/pick up times (so that not all children arrive onsite at one time).
  • If possible, take account of start time for other children in the family who may be attending a primary school attached to the setting or close by to reduce multiple visits to services for parents where practicable
  • Consideration of additional access points and children’s routes to play spaces when they arrive at the facility. This could include children heading straight to the area in which their group are working, which could be indoors or outdoors, after washing their hands.
  • For those arriving by car, parents may be encouraged to park further away from the setting and then walk with their children to avoid congestion, or alternatively use active travel routes where feasible. Car-sharing with children of other households should be discouraged.
  • Particular consideration should be given to meeting the individual needs of families where children have complex needs or disabilities.
  • Encourage staff and parents to plan their journey to and from their setting, and to minimise pressure on public transport and the road network through walking or cycling where possible.       
  • Where parents are dropping off young children and it is not possible to maintain physical distancing between adults, staff and children should wash hands after the child is safely in the setting.
  • Ensure both the child and the parent is comfortable in the handover and make arrangements if a child is distressed for the parent to comfort them without the parent coming into contact with other children or staff.
  • Encourage staff and parents to follow physical distancing when travelling to and from nursery, as advised in the latest guidance on how to remain safe when walking, cycling and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak.

First published: 30 Jul 2020 Last updated: 30 Jul 2020 -