The decision to require the closure of childcare settings – other than for the provision of critical childcare for key worker families and vulnerable children – has had an impact on the lives of children and families throughout Scotland. There was little time to prepare, or scope to explain, the changes to our youngest children. Their relationships and friendships were abruptly interrupted as well as their learning.
We know there are challenges in delivering services after a turbulent break and in the evolving COVID-19 situation in Scotland. In line with Realising the Ambition, our focus must be on supporting children to form a secure and emotionally resilient attachment base which will stand them in good stead as they grow and develop. Nurturing and attached relationships are essential to creating the conditions for children to flourish in childcare.
All children have a right to play, to learn and to access experiences that meet their physical, social, emotional and cultural needs, and they have a right to associate with their peers. In line with Scotland's commitment to Getting It Right For Every Child, children also have the right to the best possible health, with their best interests a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect them. Adults, of course, also have fundamental rights in relation to their health and wellbeing. These important rights and considerations have all been factored into the development of a framework for reopening and delivering ELC and school-aged childcare services.
Although the coronavirus situation in Scotland continues to evolve, we now know that children are less likely to be affected by the virus. Advice from the advisory sub group for education and children’s issues states:
- Children in the age groups accessing early learning and childcare [N.B. 0-5 year olds] have a low susceptibility to COVID-19 infection, they also have a low likelihood of onward transmission.
However, we cannot yet return to normal practice – we all need to ensure that we continue to manage services and mitigate risks.
This guidance provides principles to help you make decisions based on the best available evidence to help you operate in a changed context. It will not provide the specific answer to every circumstance which may arise, but it will provide the basis on which you can use your professional judgement to make a decision. Please also be aware that public health advice may evolve over time, and you should check online to make sure you are working to the most recent version of this guidance.
This update to the guidance reflects:
- The strategic framework and the approach that should be taken by the sector at each level
- New guidance on face coverings which should now be worn by all adults when physical distancing is not possible, but not when interacting with children
- Specific guidance on singing
- The approaches to shielding, support for specific groups, test and protect and outbreak management which have been updated to align with most up to date public health advice and approaches across education
- New guidance on international travel and quarantine
- Confirms the position with regards to meetings between different childminding settings under the social meeting guidance
- Details the types of PPE required in different circumstances that may arise
- What to do when a child, childminder or assistant becomes ill