Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on re-opening school age childcare services

Non-statutory guidance for school age childcare providers in the local authority, private and third sectors to support a safe re-opening of these settings.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on re-opening school age childcare services


Moving between different areas within settings

When following a cohort approach, providers may wish to consider the following:

  • One-way systems: If feasible, settings may wish to adopt one-way systems within corridors and stairs. This may help avoid bottlenecks and ease travel around the setting. Where a provider is based in a school or other community building it will be helpful wherever possible to consider this in partnership with other users.
  • External circulation: As part of a circulation strategy it may be beneficial in some settings to encourage the use of external areas to move between parts of the building. This may reduce the use of internal areas and also provide  fresh air. Safety in all weathers and security issues would require to be considered in each location.
  • Signage/communication: Appropriate signage and/or verbal communication with children, parents and staff about the system adopted may need to be implemented if it differs from previous. Again where a provider is based in a school or other community building it will be helpful wherever possible to consider this in partnership with other users.
  • Peripatetic Staffing:. Movement of staff between different settings should be avoided, except in circumstances where the individual works with the same group of children, or where necessary to provide specialist support, for example for children with additional support needs.
  • Use of agency or bank staff: where settings use agency or bank staff they should ensure that staff do not move between settings where possible
  • It is recognised that the above restrictions on movement of staff between settings may impact on the ability of some practitioners to continue with the patterns of work they would have chosen prior to the Covid-19 response period.  Where this is the case, employers/heads of centres should undertake early engagement with staff who will be affected, and unions where appropriate.

School age children - blended placements

For children and young people who have blended placements, defined as arrangements where children are attending two or more settings, either in educational establishments, other childcare providers, or the wider community, consideration should be given to their groupings and an appropriate risk assessment conducted. Where possible settings should seek to keep groups consistent with schools and classes in order to minimise contacts.

It remains important to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, where possible. 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’ needs.

Parents and carers should be encouraged and supported to limit the number of settings their child attends.  When children attend more than one setting (i.e. school and school age childcare), consideration should be given to ensuring their child only attends the same school age childcare setting(s) consistently. Consideration should be given to how children are supported to ensure good hygiene practices (washing hands, not sharing resources, etc.) when moving between settings, and how their interactions with other groups of children are managed, based on an appropriate risk assessment.

School age childcare workers may undertake drop-off and pick-up from schools but physical distancing with other adults must be maintained.

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.

Sharing school premises and community premises

Many school age childcare services operate from school or community premises that are shared with others. Where services have their own entrance, exit and general facilities including toilets and kitchen facilities they should follow this guidance as a stand-alone service.

Where services share facilities with schools, they should consider the following:

  • early discussion with the local authority to agree use of premises
  • potential implications of the school operating model
  • arrangements for cleaning
  • maintaining physical distance from other users
  • arrangements for use of the outdoor spaces

Where services make use of community spaces and facilities, they should consider the following:

    • early discussion with local authority or landlord to agree continued use of premises or facilities
    • potential implications of sharing spaces with other community groups including maintaining physical distance with other users
    • arrangements for cleaning
    • maximising use of outdoor spaces where available

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