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
Drop-off and pick up

Drop-off and pick up

The arrangements for parents to drop off and collect children requires careful consideration, to ensure that large gatherings of people can be avoided, and physical distancing maintained. Physical distancing between staff and other adults (including parents) must be adhered to at all times.

Most children can be placed in the care of staff with adults maintaining an appropriate distance. It is recognised that in some cases, a physical handover of very young children will be required and this should be reflected in risk assessments. Settings should ensure that the amount of time that staff spend in close proximity with parents or carers is minimised, that face coverings are worn by adults during a physical handover, and staff and children should wash hands after the child is safely in the setting.  However, where possible, parents and carers should not enter buildings unless this has been planned in advance (see section Visits to the setting by parents/carers).

Some approaches that local authorities and ELC providers should consider include the following:

  • 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.
  • staggered and allocated drop off/pick up times (so that not all children arrive onsite at one time)
  • parents/carers and other family members should be discouraged from gathering outside the setting and should maintain physical distancing, as far as practicable, when dropping off children. Appropriate markings may be introduced outside the entrance to the setting to support physical distancing
  • if possible, take account of start time for other children in the family who may be attending a primary school attached to the setting or close by to reduce multiple visits to services for parents where practicable
  • consideration of additional access points and children’s routes to play spaces when they arrive at the facility. This could include children heading straight to the area in which their group are working, which could be indoors or outdoors, after washing their hands
  • for those arriving by car, parents may be encouraged to park further away from the setting and then walk with their children to avoid congestion, or alternatively use active travel routes where feasible
  • staff and parents should only share a vehicle with those from their household or extended household. If they have no other option, they should follow the safe travel guidance at the Transport Scotland website which provides advice on how to share vehicles safely. Particular consideration should be given to meeting the individual needs of families where children have complex needs or disabilities
  • the advice is not to use public transport in a level 4 area. If the use of public transport is essential, encourage staff and parents to plan their journey to and from their setting, and to minimise pressure on public transport. They should also be encouraged to plan other forms of transport to minimise pressure on the road network and consider walking or cycling where possible
  • where parents are dropping off young children and it is not possible to maintain physical distancing between adults, staff and children should wash hands after the child is safely in the setting
  • ensure both the child and the parent is comfortable in the handover and make arrangements if a child is distressed for the parent to comfort them without the parent coming into contact with other children or staff
  • encourage staff and parents to follow physical distancing when travelling to and from nursery, as advised in the latest guidance on how to remain safe when walking, cycling and travelling in vehicles or on public transport during the coronavirus outbreak. 

First published: 11 Aug 2021 Last updated: 11 Oct 2021 -