Maximising use of outdoor spaces
Evidence suggests that outdoor environments can limit transmission, as well as more easily allowing for appropriate physical distancing between staff and between groups of children. Staff should consider how they can safely maximise the use of their outdoor space.
Given that the risks of transmission are much lower outdoors, ELC provision should maximise opportunities for outdoor play and experiences. Outdoor nurseries and childcare settings by their nature will already maximise time spent outdoors by children and staff.
If outdoor equipment is being used, settings should ensure that multiple groups of children do not use it simultaneously, as well as considering appropriate cleaning between groups of children using it. Staff should clean outdoor sandpit and mud kitchen equipment between use by different groups of children.
Staff should plan for children to enjoy active energetic play across the day and this may include making use of other areas near to the service. Within any public spaces staff should be aware at all times of the need to keep children distanced from any other children who are not part of the setting, and/or other adults who may be in the vicinity.
Staff should take the necessary precautions to protect children from the elements and this should include suitable clothing, head coverings and sunscreen. As already highlighted in the section on cleaning practices, children should not share outdoor clothes or footwear. Advice on sun safety is available from the NHS.
Guidance to promote high quality learning and play experiences for children outdoors is available in the Care Inspectorate practice note, Early Learning and Childcare: Delivering High Quality Play and Learning Environments Outdoors.
Use of Public Space
Some outdoor settings operate within space which can also be accessed by members of the public. Within any public spaces staff should be aware at all times of the need to keep children distanced from any other children who are not part of the setting, and/or other adults who may be in the vicinity.