Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): early learning and childcare services

Non-statutory guidance to support the continued safe operation of ELC settings.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): early learning and childcare services
Blended placements/provision of meals and snacks

Blended placements/provision of meals and snacks

Blended placements

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. Blended placements are permitted and must be supported by a refreshed risk assessment that has been undertaken in collaboration with parents and all providers involved in the care of the child.

If there is an outbreak within the child’s cohort arrangement in either of the settings that the child attends, blended placements should, wherever possible, be suspended until after the outbreak. A cluster or outbreak of COVID-19 occurs when a setting has two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within 14 days. The local health protection team should be notified. If a plausible transmission link between two or more cases is identified within the setting, this is indicative of an ‘outbreak’; if not, it is referred to as a ‘cluster’. The outbreak will be ‘closed’ by the local health protection team.

The decision about whether to suspend the blended placement and which one setting the child should attend while the blended placement is suspended should be made in discussion with the family and the settings involved.

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 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.Lead in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as possible but no more than 7 days

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.

Provision of meals and snacks 

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
  • support children to wash hands before and after eating

First published: 11 Aug 2021 Last updated: 13 Jan 2022 -