Publication - Factsheet

Coronavirus (COVID-19): early learning and childcare (ELC) services - checklist of mitigations for Level 0 and below

Published: 3 Aug 2021

A checklist for risk mitigations for ELC settings.

3 Aug 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19): early learning and childcare (ELC) services - checklist of mitigations for Level 0 and below

A checklist summarising the COVID-19 risk mitigations for ELC settings. This should not be used as a substitute for reading the full guidance. This is especially true for managers of settings who must read the full guidance to understand the measures that they should implement in service planning.

Checklist of mitigations that should be applied in Level 0 and below


ELC settings

Childminding settings

School-aged childcare settings

Staying vigilant and responding to COVID-19 symptoms

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.

Staff should be supported to 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.

As ELC plus - 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.


Physical distancing

In level 0: 2 metre physical distancing between adults

FROM 9 AUGUST- Beyond level 0: At least 1 metre physical distancing. Settings can continue with 2 metre distancing arrangements that work well and do not limit capacity.

Staff 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.

Children are not required to physically distance from each other, or from adults.

As ELC plus -

Primary school age children should remain physically distanced from staff where possible. It is important however for children to feel secure and receive warmth and physical contact that is appropriate to their needs. Staff will need to be close to the children at times, particularly young children, and should feel confident to do so.

Secondary age children should maintain the appropriate physical distance from adults in the setting.

Moving within settings

Circulation of children and staff and transitions between different parts of the setting’s indoor spaces should be considered to avoid bottlenecks or crowding.

Peripatetic staff

From 19 July - No restrictions on the use of peripatetic or agency staff but staff must not work across two premises if there is an outbreak in one.

Face coverings

Face coverings must be worn by adults wherever they cannot maintain the appropriate physical distance from other adults (e.g. in corridor and communal areas).

Face coverings should be strongly encouraged when parents/carers are drop-off and pick-up their children.

Face coverings are not required when working directly with children. However, staff who wish to wear a face covering in these circumstances should be supported to do so.

As ELC plus –

To align with the advice within the guidance for schools, face coverings should also be worn by children over 12 (unless exempt) when moving around the setting and in communal areas.

Hand hygiene

Ensure all staff and children frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Handwashing should take place: on arrival at the setting; before and after eating; after toileting; at regular intervals throughout the day; when moving between different areas.

Cough etiquette

Use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze into, dispose of tissues appropriately and ensure that bins are emptied regularly of waste.

Encourage children to use a tissue or elbow to cough into.

Enhanced cleaning

Buildings should be checked if they have been closed or unused, including water quality sampling.

At least twice daily cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched objects and hard surfaces.

Surfaces in dining or snack areas should be wiped down and disinfected in between use by each group of children.

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.

Cleaning of staff areas should be an integral part of the overall cleaning strategy. Staff should use their own cup/cutlery and ensure these are cleaned straight after use.

Toys and equipment that children access should be cleaned daily or, if groups of children change during the day, on a sessional basis.

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.

Sharing of resources between home and setting

Children should be discouraged from bringing toys from home to the setting. However, settings can share resources (such as story bags) between setting and home – unless there is a positive case in the home or an outbreak in the setting.


All settings must ensure the opening of doors and windows to increase natural ventilation where it is practical, safe and secure to do so, while maintaining appropriate internal temperatures.

Mechanical ventilation should be used where this is not possible, ideally set to full fresh air.

Where settings have a CO2 monitor these should be used to assess settings.

Visits by parents

FROM 3 JULY - Visits by parents/carers permitted to support children (e.g. during their transition to a new setting) but limited to three households at a time and per day when indoors. Up to 10 households can visit at a time and per day, provided they remain outdoors and the visit is planned in advance. 

Where virtual arrangements for parental engagement are already in place and working well, these should continue to be used;

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

The number of visitors from the same household should be kept to a minimum (no more than two and ideally one);

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

Visits by parents must not take place if there is a positive case in the home or an outbreak in the setting.

AS ELC for indoors.

For childminding settings with under 12 children the maximum outdoors is 6 households. For childminding settings with over 12 children, this can increase to 10 households when outdoors.


Pick up and drop off

Ensure large gatherings of people are avoided and physical distancing is maintained. Advice to wear face coverings, stagger timings etc.

Visits by specialist staff

From 19 July - No restrictions on visits by specialist staff (e.g. allied health professionals, local authority officers or inspectors).

Cohorting/limiting contacts between children

From 19 July - Settings must apply proportionate, risk-based approaches to limiting contacts, managing children within groups. However, the only restriction on group size is registration capacity.

Limiting contacts between staff

Staff members should work with the same groups wherever possible. When agreeing staff working patterns, settings 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.

Blended placements

From 19 July - All blended placements can go ahead but if there is an outbreak within the child’s cohort arrangement in either of the settings that the child attends, blended placements must be suspended.

Outdoor learning

Provision should maximise opportunities for outdoor play and experiences.

Dance, music, singing and drama

Singing is permitted indoors and outdoors.

Asymptomatic Testing


Staff and settings are encouraged to participate and to report their results.

Childminders are able to take part in routine asymptomatic at home testing using lateral flow devices (LFD), that is available to everyone in Scotland.



Use of PPE should be based on a clear assessment of risk and need for an individual child or young person, such as personal care where staff come into contact with blood and body fluids

In cases of suspected COVID-19, the following use of PPE may be considered:

  • a fluid-resistant surgical mask if 2 metre physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • where the child needs direct personal care, gloves and aprons, fluid-resistant surgical mask and eye protection (goggles or a visor) should be worn by staff
  • gloves and aprons should be used when cleaning the areas where the child has been

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.

Notification of positive cases

Setting must contact their local health protection team immediately if there is:

  • any suspicion that there may be an outbreak of cases, i.e. two or more confirmed cases in 14 days;
  • or an increase in the background rate of absence due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

Setting must also notify the Care Inspectorate in the event of a suspected case and all confirmed cases of COVID.

Risk Assessments

Risk assessments remain a legal requirement – must be conducted and reviewed when circumstances change. Setting-level risk assessments are expected to consider all risks identified in respect of COVID-19

Communication with parents/carers

Settings should to communicate any new arrangements to parents and carers, particularly where there are new routines and procedures that children and families will need to understand and follow.

In the event that settings are informed of a positive case or cases amongst their staff or children, they should provide parents/carers and staff with a standard letter (template provided) advising them of the facts and providing advice.