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
Moving within and between settings

Moving within and between settings

Some approaches to circulation of children and staff and transitions between different parts of the setting’s indoor spaces providers can include:

  • one-way systems: Settings may wish to adopt one-way systems within corridors and stairs. This may help avoid bottlenecks and ease travel around the setting
  • external circulation: As part of an amended circulation strategy it may be beneficial to encourage the use of external areas to move between parts of the building. This would reduce the density of use of the internal areas and also provide some movement and fresh air. Appropriate solutions would be specific to each location. Safety in all weathers and security issues would require to be considered in each location
  • signage/communication: Appropriate signage or verbal communication about the system adopted may need to be implemented, if it differs from previous arrangements at the setting, for the benefit of staff and parents. Signage may be used to remind all adults to wear a face covering when passing through these areas where it is not possible to maintain the appropriate physical distance to reduce transmission risk and/or to remind staff to wait until others have passed
  • peripatetic Staffing: Settings should review use of peripatetic staff, to reflect the current advice for the level in which they are located

Table 7: use of peripatetic and agency staff, including peripatetic managers

Level 0 and below

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/Stay local

No restrictions on the use of peripatetic or agency staff



Peripatetic and agency staff should not attend more than one setting in the same day.

Peripatetic and agency staff should only attend settings in person where it is demonstrably necessary to support the health and wellbeing of young children and should not attend more than one setting in the same day.

The use of peripatetic staff should be included in the settings’ joint risk assessment and mitigations should include reducing the number of children and other staff that staff members work with across settings.

Where possible staff, whether permanent or agency/bank, should minimise working across settings if there is an outbreak in one. All precautions should be taken where this cannot be avoided, including adherence to use of face coverings; asymptomatic testing; and good hand hygiene.

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; risk assessment of the second location may be needed to establish any transmission risk.

Consideration should be given to sharing of information such as setting contact details, to support contact tracing.

Students may attend the setting for a placement block provided they are attending only one setting

Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: As soon as possible but no more than 7 days from the change in protection levels

  • staff working or volunteering for other organisations/employer: where staff work for a single employer with more than one setting, they should be supported to work in the same setting as far as possible. However it would not be appropriate to require staff to cease working or volunteering with another organisation or employer if that would be allowed under normal contract terms, even if this means that they are attending more than one setting or work place. In these circumstances, staff should discuss arrangements with the manager and consider how to reduce risk of transmission across settings. This arrangement should also be reflected in the setting’s COVID risk assessment which should set out the measures in place to reduce risk of transmission across workplaces (such as good hygiene practice, maintaining records of contacts, limiting unnecessary contact and stringent adherence to self-isolation in the event of contact with a suspected or confirmed case)Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: As soon as possible but no more than 7 days from the change in protection levels
  • the Strategic Framework notes that travel restrictions between areas of different prevalence will be set out in guidance. Exceptions will apply for essential travel including work and education
  • it is recognised that the above restrictions on movement of staff between settings may impact on the ability of some practitioners to continue with the patterns of work they would have chosen prior to the COVID-19 response period. Where this is the case, employers/heads of centres should undertake early engagement with staff who will be affected, and unions where appropriate
  • settings should, in partnership with related partners and local public health teams, pay very close attention to any evidence suggesting the potential for emerging bridges of transmission between settings. In the event that any such evidence is identified, they should consult immediately with local public health teams on any requirement to pause or further reduce such movement between settings

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