Blended placements/provision of meals and snacks
This relates to children attending more than one ELC setting (for example, a nursery and a childminder).
It remains very important to continue to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, and to maintain progress in suppressing the virus as schools and the ELC sector re-opens more widely. As has been the case, parents and carers should be encouraged and supported to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally attending one setting only. For children who attend more than one setting, consideration should be given to ensuring their child only attends the same setting(s) consistently.
As already explained elsewhere in this guidance, risk assessments must be refreshed in the context of the re-opening of ELC to all children and in the context of new variants of concern. Existing blended placements may continue provided they are supported by a refreshed risk assessment that has been undertaken in collaboration with parents and all providers involved in the care of the child, and there is agreement that the arrangement continues to be required to ensure access to high quality ELC and to meet childcare needs.
When increased demand for blended placements arises due to the wider re-opening of schools and nurseries these requests should also be risk assessed and considered together, on a case by case basis, by local authorities, providers and parents. This risk assessment should take account of the importance of children’s wellbeing and protecting their access to high quality ELC which supports families’ needs.
Where it is judged that a child should attend multiple settings, either ELC settings, childminders or other settings, consideration should be given to how they are supported to ensure good hygiene practices (washing hands, not sharing resources, etc.) when moving between settings, and how their contacts with other groups of children are managed, based on an appropriate risk assessment in each setting.
Where it is judged that a child should attend multiple settings, childminders and other key workers may undertake drop-off and pick-up from other ELC settings but physical distancing with other adults must be maintained.
Where a child attends more than one setting, consideration should be given to sharing of record keeping across settings, to assist with any Test & Protect process. Any records should be managed in way which is consistent with the requirements of GDPR and setting privacy policies.
It is important to continue to ensure that mealtimes are a relaxed and enjoyable time where children can socialise, while implementing practical approaches to prevent the spread and control of infection.
Staff should follow usual good hygiene practices when preparing or serving food or assisting children with packed lunches. There is no need for additional PPE at meal and snack times.
ELC providers may wish to consider the following potential approaches to managing at dining times and dealing with associated logistical issues. Arrangements in each setting may depend on whether food is being prepared on the premises.
- Implementing staggered dining arrangements
- Having set snack times for groups
- Maximising the use of the outdoor environment for dining.