Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance

Published: 5 Mar 2021
Last updated: 11 Oct 2021 - see all updates

Non-statutory guidance to support childminding settings to operate safely.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): childminder services guidance
Physical distancing measures

Physical distancing measures

The Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC states that it is not appropriate for young children or for some children with additional support needs to maintain the models of physical distancing that would be suitable for older children in a school setting, either practically or in terms of child development. It is not desirable or possible to implement strict physical distancing between young children or between a young child and their childminder, or the childminder’s own children.

It is important for children to feel secure, and receive warmth and physical contact that is appropriate to their needs, in particular when they are receiving personal care. Childminders and assistants will need to be close to the children, particularly young children and should feel confident in this. In relation to older children, childminders should take account of the guidance for school-age childcare settings and physical distancing between adults and children contained within.

In consultation with families, childminders should consider reducing risks in other ways, by limiting access to their home for parents or carers where possible.

Learning from outbreaks across a range of sectors suggests that lapses in adherence to physical distancing can occur when adults mix outside or in other social areas. All adults, childminders and any assistants, should be reminded that the requirement to physically distance applies at all times, including during breaks and before and after sessions and traveling to and from the setting. The only exception to this is for adults who live in the same household, have formed an extended household in accordance with the guidance or where there are health and safety reasons why they have to come within the required distance of each other.

In addition, adults who reside in the childminder setting and are not an assistant should physically distance from adults and children from different households in the childminding setting, where possible. This will reduce likelihood of direct transmission. The latest physical distancing advice should be checked regularly for updates.

When Scotland moved beyond Level 0, the physical distancing requirement for adults in childminding settings dropped from at least 2 metres to at least 1 metre. If settings already have 2 metre physical distancing arrangements that work well and do not limit capacity then they may retain these for logistical reasons. Retaining 2 metres between adults will help to reduce the risk that they are identified as a close contact. (The definition of a contact is explained in section 8 of Public Health Scotland’s contact tracing guidance.)

It is important that children’s needs are the deciding factor in these arrangements. While adults from different households should practice physical distancing, this is not always possible - for example, when young children are passed between adults at drop-off and pick-up times. Where close contact between two adults occurs, the childminder or assistant should ensure that the amount of time that childminders or their assistants spend in close proximity with parents or carers is minimised, that face coverings are worn by adults during a physical handover and that they thoroughly wash their hands after contact.

Childminders and parents or carers should agree staggered drop off and collection times to minimise contact between families wherever possible.

Parents/carers should be discouraged from gathering outside the setting and should maintain distancing, as far as practicable, when dropping off their children. Appropriate markings may be introduced outside the entrance to the setting.

Specialist visitors to the setting

The advice for specialist visitors is specific to protection level. Specialist visitors include allied health professionals, local authority quality improvement officers, Education Scotland and Care Inspectorate inspectors and improvement advisors, and specialist coaches and instructors, and other bodies to delivering their legal duties to the setting.

Table two: visits to the setting by specialist staff

Level 0 and below

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/Stay local

No restrictions on visits by specialist staff

Visits by any specialist staff can take place where it supports the health, wellbeing, care or development of children.

 

Visits by any specialist staff should take place only where it is demonstrably necessary to support of the health and wellbeing of children (for example in relation to child protection issues or addressing additional support needs) and it is not possible to provide this support remotely.

Specialist visitors should not attend more than one setting in the same day.

 

Telephone calls, online meetings and ‘virtual’ visits should be the norm for regular and other meetings with specialists.

Visits should take place outdoors wherever possible.

Tradespeople can visit to carry out essential repairs or maintenance to support safe or effective running of the setting or to support future capacity building. They should remain physically distanced from staff and children.

Visits by specialist staff and tradespeople should be included in the setting’s risk assessment.

Specialist visitors should maintain appropriate physical distance from staff in the setting.

If the visit takes place indoors, ensure that the physical distancing requirements can be strictly adhered to, the meeting space is well ventilated, face coverings are worn and that there is a supply of alcohol based hand rub available to visitors at the entrance to the setting.

Where practicable, specialist visitors should look to reduce the number of settings visited and to limit their contact time with children. They should also be encouraged to take regular lateral flow tests.

The number of visitors in the setting at any one time should be kept to a minimum.

Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as protection level changes

Use of face coverings

Face coverings must be worn by adults wherever they cannot maintain the appropriate physical distance from other adults who are not in their own household (e.g. in corridor and communal areas), except where a person is exempt from wearing a covering.

Face coverings are only one of the measures to suppress COVID-19 and these should not be used to substitute the other measures needed to contain the virus. Therefore, when wearing a face covering, good hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing between adults should still be required.

Face coverings should be worn by parents and other essential visitors to the setting (when entering the building or otherwise), and should be strongly encouraged when parents/carers are drop-off and pick-up their children, and when childminders and assistants do school pick-up.

Face coverings are not required when working directly with children, including on the floor or supporting children to move around the building or with toileting, or as a result of being in close physical proximity from children. However, any assistants or childminder who wishes to wear a face covering in these circumstances should be supported to do so.

Where local decisions on the strengthened use of face coverings are made, it will remain vitally important to consider the potential impact on children and young people.

To support this, adults must also maintain a the appropriate physical distance from other adults when working together with groups of children.

Face coverings should also be worn by childminders, assistants and visitors when not working directly with children, for example when in hallways, toilets and kitchens (except when dining) and other confined communal areas when appropriate physical distance cannot be maintained, except where a person is exempt from wearing a face covering or the adults in the setting are part of the same household.

Where local decisions on the strengthened use of face coverings are made, it will remain vitally important to consider the potential impact on children. Some children may need additional support/reassurance about the reasons for adults wearing face coverings. The wellbeing and needs of the child should remain a focus of attention.

The use of face coverings could have an impact for babies and young children, especially those with additional support needs (which includes any level of hearing loss). These impacts should be carefully considered as the ability to see a person’s face clearly contributes to babies and young children’s communication and understanding. This is particularly important for children with hearing loss, children who are acquiring English and who rely on visual cues to enable them to be included in learning. With this in mind, the wearing of transparent face coverings might be considered appropriate in some situations.

It is not recommended that children aged 5 and under wear face coverings in an ELC setting. However, children, like adults, wishing to wear a face covering in any part of the setting should be permitted to do so.

Clear instructions must be provided to staff on how to put on, remove, store and dispose of face coverings in all of the circumstances above, to avoid inadvertently increasing the risks of transmission. The key points are as follows:

  • face coverings must not be shared with others
  • before putting on or removing the face covering, hands should be cleaned by washing with soap and water or hand sanitiser if handwashing facilities are not available
  • make sure the face covering is the right size to cover the nose, mouth and chin
  • when temporarily storing a face covering (e.g. during sessions), it should be placed in a washable, sealed bag or container. Avoid placing it on surfaces, due to the possibility of contamination
  • re-usable face coverings should be washed after each day of use at 60 degrees centigrade or in boiling water
  • disposable face coverings must be disposed of safely and hygienically. They are not considered to be clinical waste in the same way that used PPE may be

Settings should follow the current public advice that recommends that face coverings are made of cloth or other textiles and should be at least two, and preferably three, layers thick and fit snugly while allowing you to breathe easily.

The Scottish Government continually reviews the current policy position on face coverings in light of emerging scientific evidence and advice. It remains the Scottish Government’s judgement that face coverings provide adequate protection for use in the community and in most workplaces because they are worn in addition to taking other measures, such as physical distancing. 

Further general advice on face coverings is available on the Scottish Government website. This includes a poster that provides useful reminders about how to wear face coverings safely.

There should be regular messaging to adults about these instructions, with a clear expectation that face coverings are worn in the relevant areas except for those who are exempt.

Larger childminder settings – minimising children’s contacts

The Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues have recommended that the size of groups can vary according to the protection level in which the setting is located.

Although the size of the group can vary with protection level, at all levels, consistency of groups is important, and children should remain within the same groups wherever possible.

Childminding settings should apply proportionate, risk-based approaches to limiting contacts, adapted to the specific circumstances of the setting. Given the limited size of a childminding setting it may not be appropriate or necessary to operate in groups. Where used, the general approach should be to minimise the size of groups and keep them consistent where practically possible, taking into account the feasibility of doing this while delivering a rich experience for children, and meeting parents’ childcare needs.

In protection Level 0 and below, there is no requirement to separate groups when they are outdoors. Settings should make as much use of outdoor space as possible as the risk of transmission is lower outside than it is in indoors. Groups can be mixed when outdoors where that makes it easier to maximise the time children spend outdoors.

Where groups are established they should work with the same childminder or assistant, where practicable, throughout the session.

Just as reducing the number of interactions that children and childminders have is a key part of reducing risk in settings, so too is reducing the number of interactions that childminders and assistant have with each other.

When agreeing working patterns, services are encouraged to maintain as much consistency as possible in the staff who work in close proximity, especially in areas where physical distancing is more challenging. While this may not always be possible, having the same groups of staff working together consistently across each week will reduce the risk of transmission among staff. It will also help to limit the number of staff who might need to self-isolate through Test and Protect.

In practice we understand that there are times when another childminder or assistant may need to provide cover for children of other groups. However, this should be for limited periods and physical distancing between adults from different households must be maintained. Childminders and assistants should ensure hygiene practices are carried out if they are caring for different groups of children. Depending on the delivery model and attendance pattern of children a childminder or assistant may care for more than one group of children over the week.

Children are not required to physically distance from each other, or from adults. It is important for children to feel secure and receive warmth and physical contact that is appropriate to their needs, in particular when they are receiving personal care, need comforting or reassurance. Childminders will need to be close to the children, particularly young children, and should feel confident to do so.

Children who require additional support should be cared for in line with their personal plan which should be kept under review as public health measures evolve.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The use of PPE by adults within childminding services should continue to be based on a clear assessment of risk and need for an individual child or young person, such as personal care where childminders or their assistants come into contact with blood and body fluids. Following any risk assessment (individual or organisational) where the need for PPE has been identified using the HSE Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at Work guide, appropriate PPE should be readily available and staff should be trained on its use as appropriate. Where the use of PPE is risk assessed as being required, staff should be trained in how to put on and take off PPE (as required by Health and Safety Regulations), and suitable waste facilities provided.

Risk assessments must be mindful of the additional distress that children might experience due to measures introduced such as the use of face coverings or PPE due to COVID-19, and the need for continued protection of staff. If for any reason, risk assessments are not in place, then they must be undertaken swiftly in accordance with this guidance and local risk assessment guidance

No additional PPE measures are required for general use where school aged children attend a childminding setting. Childminders and assistants should continue to follow existing local guidance on the use of PPE. Examples of this include:

  • staff carrying out intimate care should wear an apron and gloves
  • staff should have access to disposable single use gloves for spillage of blood or other body fluids and disposing of dressings or equipment. Local infection control procedures that outline safety and protocols should be stringently followed and adequate training provided. This includes procedures for putting on and taking off PPE, the disposal of soiled items; laundering of any clothes, including uniform and staff clothing, towels or linen; and cleaning equipment for children and young people, such as hoists and wheelchairs
  • hand hygiene is essential before and after all contact with a child receiving intimate or personal care, before putting on PPE, after removal of PPE and after cleaning equipment and the environment. Hands should be washed with soap and water

In cases of suspected COVID-19, use of PPE should be based on risk assessment. Risk assessments must be consider all factors affecting the protection of staff and children including any additional distress and impact on wellbeing of child. The following use of PPE may be considered:

  • a fluid-resistant surgical mask should be worn if looking after a child who has become unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 and appropriate physical distancing cannot be maintained while doing so
  • if the child or young person who has become unwell with symptoms of COVID-19 needs direct personal care, gloves, aprons, a fluid-resistant surgical mask and eye protection (goggles or a visor) should be worn by the childminder and any assistants
  • gloves and aprons should be used when cleaning the areas where a person suspected of having COVID-19 has been

Specific guidance COVID-19: guidance for first responders has been developed and published for first responders who, as part of their normal roles, provide immediate assistance requiring close contact until further medical assistance arrives. This guidance sets out clearly what a first responder is required to do if they come into close contact with someone as part of their first responder duties. It covers the use of PPE and CPR. 

Where the use of PPE is being considered within a setting the specific conditions of each individual setting must be taken into consideration and comply with all applicable legislation, including the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 and the Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 which outlines the process of, and legal requirements for, risk assessment. 

If a child, childminder or assistant becomes ill

Childminding settings should ask staff and parents and carers to be vigilant for the symptoms of COVID-19, and to understand what actions they should take if someone develops them, either onsite or offsite. The key COVID symptoms are:

  • new continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

It is essential that people do not attend a setting if symptomatic. Everyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 must self-isolate straight away, stay at home and arrange a test via the appropriate method (see below).

All assistants and parents and carers should be advised that anyone with these symptoms should not attend or should be asked to return home. They should also be told to follow Test and Protect procedures. Childminders who develop these symptoms should make arrangements for the children in the setting to be taken home, and should arrange to be tested themselves.

All adults working in childminding settings should follow up to date health protection advice on household or self- isolation and Test and Protect procedures if they or someone in their household exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have been identified by NHS contact tracers as a close contact of someone with the virus. Guidance on this is available from NHS Inform, Parent Club and gov.scot.

The National Clinical Director has also written an open letter to parents and carers providing guidance on how COVID-19 symptoms differ from those of other infections circulating at this time of year.

Changes to the rules on self-isolation for contacts of positive cases were made on 9th August. These changes were made because the health risks that arise when people are in contact with others who test positive have changed significantly, most notably due to vaccination. Vaccine uptake is very high, particularly among individuals who are at greater risk of harm from Covid-19, and the vaccines are highly effective at preventing severe disease (with 96% effectiveness against hospitalisation for the Delta variant). Children and young people have a very low risk of health harm from Covid-19, and children and young people with asymptomatic infection are at a relatively low risk of transmitting Covid-19 to adults. This means that the risk environment has changed significantly, and our approach to managing Covid-19 is evolving to reflect that.

Since we moved beyond level 0, close contacts aged over 18 years and 4 months who are double vaccinated - with at least two weeks having passed since the second dose - have been able to end self-isolation  – if they take a PCR test that comes back negative.

There is also no blanket requirement for children aged under 5 who are close contacts of positive cases to self-isolate, provided they do not display any symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 This applies regardless of whether the close contact is with a case in the ELC setting, household or elsewhere. Children under 5 years are encouraged but not required to take a PCR test. This is the advice in the guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection on the Test and Protect website, however, their exemption from self-isolation requirements should not be made conditional on this. This reflects the lower risks of infection and transmission in this age group, the fact that younger children may find it harder to tolerate testing and the significant and sustained educational harms that result from current self-isolation policy. It aligns with the advice of the Advisory Sub-Group and the views of the Chief Medical Officer.

Close contacts for those aged over 5 but under 18 years and 4 months will be released from the requirement to self-isolate subject to a negative PCR test, provided they do not display any symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 . This would mean that close contacts over the age of 5 but under 18 and 4 months will be advised to book a PCR test as soon as possible, and only end self-isolation and return to ELC if they receive a negative PCR test result.

Key points to ensure that parents, carers and staff are aware of are as follows:

  • staff, children or young people who develop the symptoms of COVID-19, or who test positive using PCR or LFD tests, must self-isolate immediately in line with NHS guidance..
  • everyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 – a new, continuous cough; fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste - must self-isolate straight away, stay at home and arrange a test via the appropriate method (see below). This applies to adults and children.
  • with the exception of those aged under 5, people who live in the same household as a person with symptoms must self-isolate straight away and stay at home. Only those developing COVID-19 symptoms should be tested. These people should not attend settings.
  • from 9 August 2021, for those aged 5 and over and under the age of 18 and 4 months and for adults who have received both doses of the vaccine, the self-isolation for close contacts can end on receipt of a negative PCR test result. Until then, a negative PCR result
  • all close contacts should to take a PCR test. Children under 5 years are encouraged but not required to take a PCR tes
  • parents/carers who are self-isolating while they wait for the results of their PCR test, or who have received a positive PCR test should not leave the house to bring children to or from settings. They should make arrangements for someone else to do this on their behalf or, if that’s not possible, children should stay home with parents/carers.
  • from 9 August 2021, for those under the age of 18 and for adults who have received both doses of the vaccine, the self-isolation can end on receipt of a negative PCR test result. Until then and for all other groups, a negative PCR result doesn't replace self-isolation and they must still complete the 10 day isolation period recommended for contacts, as they may still be incubating the COVID-19 virus. 
  • everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be put in touch with the local contact tracing team so that other close contacts can be identified. With the exception of those aged under 5 all close contacts who are in the same household as confirmed cases must self-isolate immediately and take a PCR test.
  • everyone who needs to self-isolate as close contacts of confirmed cases must continue to do so for 10 days from their last day of exposure to the case. In a household, the 10 days starts on the date of symptom onset in the first case.
  • unless otherwise advised by Test and Protect or local Incident Management Teams, where staff do not have symptoms but are self-isolating as a close contact of a person who is a confirmed case, other people in their household will not be asked to self-isolate along with them.
  • a useful decision aid to help understand when and how long to self-isolate due to corornavirus can be found at following link: When and how long to self-isolate due to coronavirus | NHS inform

If a close contact has had a positive PCR test in the last 90 days, they do not need to do another PCR test to be exempt from self-isolation, provided they are fully vaccinated and remain asymptomatic. This is because while you may no longer be infectious, a PCR test repeated within 90 days, can detect fragments of coronavirus genetic material that have not yet left your system. This means, you can still get a positive test result several weeks after you have had coronavirus and are no longer infectious.

We have published an information sheet on self-isolation and contact tracing for schools and registered childcare settings to provide more detail on these changes.

If a child develops symptoms of COVID-19 while in the setting, a ventilated space must be available for the child to wait in until they can be collected by their parent. Where space allows, you should prevent contact with any other children in the setting. Ensure that guidance on the use of PPE is followed. 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.

Childminders can book a test through www.nhsinform.scot or, if they cannot get online, by calling 0800 028 2816. Parents and carers can book a test on a child’s behalf.

Unless childminders are symptomatic, they are a close contact of a positive case or are advised to get a test by a healthcare professional, then testing is not a requirement.

Staying safe after ending self-isolation

Even if someone is fully vaccinated, they can still get coronavirus and pass it on to others.

Close contacts who end self-isolation, can help protect others by following our guidance on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread.

As well as getting a PCR test, they may also consider:

  • limiting close contact with other people outside their household where possible, especially in enclosed spaces
  • wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and where they cannot maintain physical distancing
  • limiting contact with anyone who is at highest risk
  • not visiting people in care homes or hospitals until 10 days after contact with a positive case, unless essential and agreed with care home or hospital staff in advance
  • taking part in twice weekly lateral flow device (LFD) testing

Visits to the setting by parents/carers

At its meeting on 21 September, the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues discussed its advice on visitors to settings. It agreed that visits by parents could be allowed in a broader range of circumstances. A note of the discussion can be found here. Visits must necessary and proportionate, agreed in advance, risk assessed and with the permission of the childminder.

Table 3: visits by parents/carers

Level 0 and below

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/Stay local

Parents/carers may accompany children onto childminding premises where this is agreed in advance and is considered necessary to support children. Where it is considered beneficial, parents/carers may also attend settings for individual parental visits related to the wellbeing, progress and behaviour of children.

 

Parents/carers may attend appropriate outdoor events at settings such as sports days or celebration events, providing all activity is consistent with relevant Scottish Government guidance on health, physical distancing, and hygiene.

Telephone calls, online meetings and ‘virtual’ visits should be the norm for meetings with parents. However, where it may be in the best interests of children for a parent or carer to attend in person, this should be considered on a case by case basis, for example in relation to child protection issues, addressing additional support needs or where a parent has a disability which affects communication over the telephone or online. 

 

Where virtual arrangements for parental engagement (such as virtual tours) are already in place and working well, these can continue to be used.

Visitors should maintain physical distancing from other adults who are not part of their household and should aim to physically distance from children who are not part of their household as far as is feasible, recognising that some children will find this difficult.

 

Risk mitigation measures should be clearly communicated to visitors. This may include, amongst other things, the displaying of notices around the setting.

The ability to maintain physical distancing should determine the number of visitors that can be accommodated.

If the visit takes place indoors ensure that the meeting space is well ventilated, face coverings are worn by adults and that there is a supply of alcohol based hand rub available to visitors at the entrance to the setting.

Parents should be encouraged to take part in the universal testing offer prior to entering the setting.

Visits should be with the permission of the childminder, who will be best placed to judge what is appropriate in local circumstances (including in the context of cases within the local community).

The number of staff meeting with parents/carers in each visit should also be kept to a minimum.

Where parents have been identified as a close contact but are exempt from self-isolating because they have been double vaccinated and have had a negative PCR test, the visit should be delayed to minimise the risk of transmission into the setting.  

Additional arrangements for sharing information between staff and families should be agreed to ensure that clear lines of communication are available where face to face contact is not routinely taking place, for example this might include (where appropriate) video messaging, phone calls or text messages, photographs or email. When settings communicate using these additional measures they must also consider the General Data Protection regulations (GDPR), and update their existing privacy policies where necessary.

Play visits to and from other childminder settings

Visits to and from other childminding settings can offer children opportunities for important social interaction with other children. While there are no longer any restrictions on household visits in the context of our private lives, it  remains important to limit these during the provision of registered childcare services. This reflects the importance of keeping these important services to children and families open and operating safely. For the time being, any such visits should take place with the permission of parents/carers of children and should take place outdoors rather than indoors. The mitigations that should be applied in respect of visits from parents/carers should also be applied to visits with other childminders and the children in their care: physical distancing between adults; number of visitors kept to a minimum; childminders making use of universal testing offer; consider delaying if adults are identified as close contacts.

Supporting transitions in other ways

Education Scotland have developed two resources to supporting transitions during COVID restrictions: 

Wherever possible, children should be settling into the service in a garden area with the parent or carer away from other children. It is important that relationships are developed and the settling in period is the foundation of that trusting relationship between the family and childminder. It is important to maintain physical distancing between adults and the childminder should consider how best to introduce a new child into the setting with limited physical contact between adults wherever possible.

For children with additional support needs, childminders should work in partnership with parents, lead professionals, children and young people to establish what support and plans need to be put in place to meet their needs. Enhanced transitions may be considered for children with additional support needs, such as through visual representations and plans of physical distancing in their settings.

Childminders may wish to consider the following approaches:

  • a map could be displayed in the setting detailing entry/exit points and new circulation patterns, for use by adults and parents
  • social stories and videos shared with children in advance to explain what will be new, and what the day will be like
  • drawing on learning from the retail sector, clear signage and colour coding on walls and floors could be implemented prior to return to help with wayfinding
  • appropriate visuals will be particularly important for children. These will need to be clear and child friendly to enable them to be understood by as many children as possible taking account of any visual impairments children may have. These could include signs that display meaningful pictures or symbols. Any signage that involves direct interaction from children will need to be cleaned regularly and additional methods of communication should also be considered

Ventilation

In its advice published on 3 March, the Advisory Sub-group recommended, that greater emphasis should be placed on ventilation, by keeping windows open as much as possible, and doors open when feasible and safe to do so. A card with ventilation advice for everyone at work can be found here: ventilation advice card.

Settings should ensure that risk assessments are updated appropriately for the season, to consider issues around ventilation and heating/warmth that are relevant to their specific environments. They should consider areas of the setting where air flow (including pockets of stagnant air in occupied spaces) and/or temperature may be problematic, and the strategies that may be used to address these issues and mitigate risks appropriately.

For all settings, an adequate level of ventilation is likely to be indicated by a CO2 concentration of no greater than 1,500 ppm as measured by a CO2 monitor. Where settings have a CO2 monitor we advise you use this to assess your setting periodically.

The primary effective method of increasing natural ventilation remains the opening of external doors, vents and windows. 

To help prevent the spread of infection, wherever possible rooms children access should be well ventilated. The opening of doors and windows should be encouraged to increase natural ventilation where it is practical, safe and secure to do so, and appropriate internal temperatures can be maintained. Fire Safety should always be considered before any internal doors are held open. This will help to increase the natural ventilation and will reduce physical contact with door handles.

Internal fire doors should never be held open (unless assessed and provided with appropriate hold open and self-closing mechanisms which respond to the actuation of the fire alarm system).

Use of outdoor space

Evidence shows that the use of the outdoors is good for our overall health and wellbeing and outdoor environments can limit transmission of the virus. Where childminders have access to a garden, they should try to use this space as much as possible across the day but are not required to operate outside for the whole day.

Childminders should take the necessary precautions to protect children from the elements. This should include suitable clothing. 

Read the guidance to promote high quality learning and play experiences for children outdoors.

Trips outside the childminding settings

Trips outside the home are permissible and encouraged providing they are in line with the latest general public guidance on physical distancing and travelling distances set out in the Strategic Framework. Childminders should plan for children to enjoy active energetic play across the day and this may include making use of other areas near to the childminder’s home such as nearby green spaces, taking account of the most up to date physical distancing guidelines.

Childminders should follow the latest guidance for coronavirus in Scotland when planning trips outside the home such as visits to outdoor play parks or libraries and appropriate risk assessments should be carried out.

For the purposes of guidance on numbers and management of children, each registered childminding setting must be considered separately. Childminders should continue to operate their business within the number of registered places as usual with no restriction to the number of families that can attend. Should a childminder wish to meet up with another childminder and their children then the latest guidance for coronavirus in Scotland should be followed, with all households and individuals involved counting towards the current limits set by that guidance. However, it is recommended that childminders arrange such meetings outwith their home setting.


First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 11 Oct 2021 -