Other safety measures
These are practical measures to minimise the risk of infection and transmission in childminding settings.
Childminders should factor in arrangements across the day, including before and after children attend, for enhanced cleaning procedures. Surfaces, toilets, sinks and other frequently used surfaces should be cleaned regularly (at least twice daily). This should include equipment and/or areas used by the childminder and assistant. Particular attention should be paid to touchpoints such as table tops, chairs, doors, light switches, banisters, equipment, sinks, and toilets cleaned more regularly. There should be routine cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and hard surfaces, as detailde in the table below.
Table four: enhanced cleaning requirements by protection level
Level 0 and below
Level 4/Stay local
Soft furnishings (such as throws and bedding) should be laundered in accordance with usual cleaning schedule.
Soft furnishings (such as throws and bedding) should be laundered frequently - as a minimum weekly.
Soft furnishings such as throws and bedding should be used for individual children. If shared they should be laundered between use. If individual, they should be laundered frequently and as a minimum weekly.
Toys and equipment that children access should be cleaned daily or, if groups of children change during the day, on a sessional basis
At least twice daily cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and hard surfaces.
Water and playdough should be replaced daily or, if groups of children change during the day, on a sessional basis.
If soft furnishings (such as throws and bedding) have been used by a child who shows symptoms of Covid, they should be removed and laundered as quickly as possible.
Settings should continue to emphasise the importance of good hand hygiene.
Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as the protection level increases
Children should be discouraged from bringing toys from home to the setting. We recognise however that some children may require a transitional object or toy as a comforter, and consideration should be given as to how to safely manage this to ensure children are supported in their transition from home to the setting to feel reassured and comforted. These should not be shared with other children.
Consideration should be given to this when arranging the attendance times for children. It is recommended that children only have access to toys and equipment that are easy to clean.
Resources such as water and playdough can be used as usual, with additional cleaning of equipment used. Water and playdough should be replaced on a daily/sessional basis. Childminders should limit the exchange of take home resources or items brought into the childminding setting.
If children need to bring school-bags or other personal items to the setting, arrangements should be made to manage storage of these items safely in cloakrooms or other area in order that they are not brought into and used within the childminding setting unless necessary.
Childminders should ensure that children have identified water bottles that are not shared. All crockery and equipment used in the provision of meals and snacks for children should be cleaned with general-purpose detergent and dried thoroughly before being stored for re-use. Assistants who do not live in the home should also use their own cup or cutlery and ensure these are cleaned after use. Surfaces in dining or snack areas should be wiped down and disinfected in between use by each group of children.
All cleaning should be carried out in accordance with COVID-19 – guidance for non-healthcare settings (which includes advice on, amongst other things, detergents/ cleaning products) and Infection Prevention and Control in Childcare Settings guidance.
There is not a requirement to use fog, mist, vapour or UV (ultraviolet) treatments in ELC settings to help control the spread of coronavirus. Should a provider choose to use one of these it is important these are used appropriately. Any use of these treatments for these purposes should form part of your COVID-19 risk assessment and clear rationale would be required through risk assessment as to whether such devices would be appropriate. Users must be competent and properly trained. These treatments can be used in a larger space or room in addition to enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, but not as a substitute.
Disinfectants applied as a fog, mist or vapour may reach harmful levels during delivery and UV systems may cause eye/skin damage if people enter an area undergoing treatment. People should not enter rooms being treated by UV or disinfectants applied as fog, mist or vapour. Discuss with suppliers what safety features they can provide to prevent inadvertent access to a room during treatment, for example hazard-monitoring sensors.
Locking rooms during the treatment will help to contain the emissions but other measures such as taping of doorway gaps or plastic screening off of some areas of the room may also be required. Good ventilation will also help clear the disinfectant after the treatment if this can be controlled from outside of the room.
Up-to-date guidance on the use of fog, mist, vapour or UV (ultraviolet) treatments is available from the Health and Safety Executive.
Managing coughs and sneezes
Children will cough and sneeze and it is not always possible to catch them in time to prevent droplet spread. Encourage children to use disposable tissues to cover the nose and mouth when sneezing, coughing, wiping, and blowing the nose. Dispose of all used tissues promptly into a waste bin. If they do not have any tissues available, encourage them to cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow. Wash or (where this is not possible, and the child is over 12 months old) use alcohol-based hand rub to clean hands at the first opportunity until you can wash your hands. Bins should be emptied frequently. Undertake cleaning of any areas where there may be droplets as soon as practical using a household cleaning product.
Singing, music and drama
Advice from the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues shows that there are increased transmission risks associated with music and drama activities.
The sub-group has now reconsidered its advice in the light of the ongoing success of the vaccination programme, in the continued suppressing of community transmission and the importance of singing for the health and wellbeing of children well as their social, physical and cognitive development.
Table five: singing
Level 0 and below
Level 4/Stay local
Singing indoors and outdoors is permitted
At levels 3, 2 and 1, singing outdoors and indoors is permitted for children and adults in ELC settings, as long as careful attention is paid to ensuring effective and adequate ventilation and subject to risk assessment and other risk mitigation measures being implemented. Other risk mitigations include singing: outdoors or indoors in large, well ventilated spaces; at low volume; for short periods of time; in small groups; and with appropriate physical distancing between adults
Singing should not happen indoors as an organised large group activity.
At any protection level, children need not be discouraged from singing naturally in the course of activities and play and singing can also be used to comfort young children when necessary.
Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as the protection level increases.
Tooth brushing can continue where there are adequate facilities to do so. Settings operating should follow the Childsmile updated guidance.
When a child or adult in the setting, or someone in the childminder's household, displays symptoms
If a child exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19, a ventilated space must be available for the child to wait in until they can be collected by their parent/carer. Where space allows, you should prevent contact with any other children in the setting. Care must be taken however to ensure the appropriate levels of supervision of all children. Read the advice on what to do if someone is symptomatic.
Advice on cleaning of premises after a person who potentially has COVID-19 has left the setting can be found in the Health Protection Scotland Guidance for Non-Healthcare Settings.
All parents and carers, and where relevant assistants, should be advised that children who have symptoms should not attend the setting, and should follow advice to self-isolate and book a test.
Where a childminder is symptomatic, or a household member has symptoms, they should close their setting and should follow advice to self-isolate and book a test.
Childminders should not operate a childminding business from their home while they have an positive case isolating in their home. This applies regardless of the vaccination status of the childminder or household member. The infection prevention and control measures that would be required to ensure no transmission from the positive case to people attending the childminding service would be extremely difficult to specify and manage in the range of settings in which childminders operate.
If parents ask a childminder to care for the children in the children’s own home the childminder may wish to consider, for this period, acting as a nanny. In these circumstances the nanny may be able care for the children of two families at that address. Nanny services are not registerable with the Care Inspectorate.
Test and Protect
Childminders and any assistants who are smartphone users should be encouraged to download The Protect Scotland contact tracing app to help suppress the spread of COVID-19.
Childminders and any assistants must be aware of Test and Protect arrangements should someone display symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If the childminder or their assistant has symptoms, they must self-isolate and not attend the setting, and should contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or www.nhsinform.scot. You can find more information on the COVID-19 Test and Protect webpage.
Childminder settings may be considered complex settings and so cases should be prioritised and escalated to specialist local health protection teams for further investigation.
Childminders should ask parents whether their child has tested positive for COVID-19 when parents are reporting absences, and parents should be prompted to mention any positive tests when leaving messages about absences (including via automated systems). Parents will also be prompted to report the result to the childminder by the online contact tracing form that all people testing positive are sent as soon as their test results are received. If called by a contact tracer, the person testing positive will again be prompted to inform their childcare setting. In some circumstances, if a contact tracer requires to contact the setting directly, they will also inform the setting of the positive case. In this way, there are multiple routes and prompts to help ensure childminders are alerted to positive cases as soon as possible after a member of staff or child tests positive.
Childminders must continue to keep clear records of children, adults and staff attending their settings, and of the composition of groups undertaking activities. These records will help to settings to target ‘Warn and Inform’ letters to parents and staff in the event of a positive case in the settings (see below) and to ensure rapid response and contact tracing should the index cases identify exceptional circumstances.
If, following confirmation of a child testing positive, the childminder feels that they are, or may be, a high risk contact because they have had unusually close or prolonged contact with that positive case in line with the examples set out below, AND they have not to date received notification via the Test and Protect system, the childminder can contact their local Health Protection Team. They will provide advice on whether the individual is in fact a high risk contact and what action should be taken. Note that Before doing so, childminders should ensure they have noted the examples of what would constitute unusually close or prolonged contact set out here:
Unusually close or prolonged contact does not include ‘business as usual’ contacts in the setting where the relevant mitigations are being followed (e.g. working in the same room as a positive case). Examples of unusually close or prolonged contact may include repeat toileting using hoist equipment for a child with ASN when PPE has not been used, or overnight stays.
‘Warn and Inform’ letters
In the event that childminders are informed of a positive case or cases amongst staff(where applicable) or children who attend their service, they should contact parents/carers and staff and direct them to either the Warn and Inform letter for parents/carers or the Warn and Inform letter for staff which provides further information, and:
- advises them to be particularly vigilant for symptoms and to self-isolate and book a test if they become symptomatic;
- asks them and their children to follow particularly closely the mitigations in guidance; and
- strongly encourages staff to continue testing and recording results regularly as part of the asymptomatic testing offer, as well as advising households to take advantage of the universal testing offer.
The letter to parents/carer should be sent to parents/carers of children who had contact with the positive case, for example, as part of the same cohort or room.
The letter to staff should be sent to staff members who had similar contact with the positive case.
The Warn and Inform letters for parents/carers and for staff are available in the supporting documents chapter of the 'Early learning and childcare' guide.
Settings do not need to issue multiple letters to the same parents/staff if there are multiple cases in the same class during an outbreak. In these circumstances, however, they may wish to keep parents, pupils and staff informed regularly of key developments (e.g. of any advice received from local Health Protection Teams, or updates on further positive cases or case numbers).
A flowchart that summarises the what happens when a member of staff or a child tests positive is available here
Outbreak and case management
Outbreak management in all settings is led by NHS Health Board health protection teams (HPTs).
The procedures for incident management are well established (Managing Public Health Incidents) and are undertaken in partnership with settings, local authorities and Public Health Scotland (as required).
Childminders and other ELC settings should ensure that they know how to contact their local HPT.
Single cases will be identified by Test and Protect and higher risk close contacts will be identified through them too. Childminders are no longer to contact HPTs to notify of every single confirmed case in a setting. However, childminders must notify the Care Inspectorate in the event of a first suspected case and all confirmed cases of COVID. Notifications and guidance are available through eForms.
Childminders should contact their local HPT if a cluster is identified. A cluster is two or more unlinked (or link unknown yet) test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals associated with a specific setting with illness onset dates within 14 days.
The HPT can provide advice to assess any links between cases, undertake risk assessment and discuss further action. Following this an outbreak may be declared, usually through an Incident Management Team (IMT). An outbreak is two or more linked test-confirmed cases of COVID-19 among individuals, associated with a specific setting within 14 days.
Where necessary an IMT will be established to manage the outbreak. An IMT is a multidisciplinary, multi-agency group with responsibility for investigating and managing the outbreak. The HPT will chair the IMT and representatives from the setting and, if relevant, the council will be invited to join.
Childminders may be asked to support an outbreak investigation by:
- attending an Incident Management Team (IMT) meeting
- communicating with children, parents/carers, staff and the media
- implementing appropriate enhanced infection, prevention and control measures and support for contact tracing as recommended by the HPT or IMT
ELC and other childcare facilities remain settings of low risk for COVID-19. Usually settings continue to operate during outbreaks. On occasion it may be necessary to temporarily close a setting or part of a setting in order to implement control measures or for operational reasons. Any decision on this should be determined through the IMT.
Childminders should maintain records to support outbreak identification and investigation, including attendance records and reasons for absence. When information sharing is needed during management of an incident there is a duty to both protect and share personal information between those participating in the IMT such as test results and contact details. These requirements are set out in Annex E of Management of Public Health Incidents. The sharing of information must be facilitated respecting the principles of confidentiality and relevant legislation. To support this, Data Protection Impact Assessments should be in place for all partner organisations.
It is for local Health Protection Teams to consider individual risks for any staff or children.
There may also be circumstances in which, based on clear evidence and public health considerations, or other relevant factors (e.g. minimum staffing requirements) specific settings require either to close for a defined period of time. This will closely involve local authorities and local Public Health Teams. All such decisions will continue to be made by local incident management teams working in partnership, and on the independent advice of local Directors of Public Health, who will take full account of safety and wider public health considerations in line with their statutory duties. Similar decisions may require to be taken by local authorities and/or setting managers where staffing constraints (e.g. due to self-isolation or shielding) or other matters make such a move unavoidable.
Policy on international travel is updated regularly.
Detailed and up-to-date guidance is available at International travel and quarantine.
Providers should engage with children and their families to ensure adherence to the legal requirements. Local health protection teams are available to offer further support where providers have concerns.
Traveling to or from the childminding setting
Ensure parents or carers are aware of allocated pick-up and drop-off times to the childminding setting.
Childminders must also ensure they follow the latest travel guidance. Childminders must also ensure they follow the latest guidance on the use of face coverings, which is to wear them in specific circumstances, such as when on public transport.
Where childminders offer a pick-up service from a child’s home, childminders should operate physical distancing from any adults and older siblings, use alcohol hand gel, and wash their hands thoroughly when they return home.
Taxis and private hire vehicles
Some children, including those with additional support needs or placed by local authorities, may rely on taxi transfers to get to their childminder. Local authorities will give careful consideration to how these children can be provided with safe, bespoke transport to their childminder. Taxis or private hire vehicles will be required to follow any relevant guidance.