The decision to close school and childcare settings has had an impact on the lives of children and families throughout Scotland. There was little time to prepare for the changes to children’s lives. Their relationships, support networks and friendships were abruptly interrupted as well as their learning.
We know there will be challenges in returning to services after a turbulent break and our focus must be on supporting children when they are in childcare settings, to form a secure and emotionally resilient attachment base as they grow and develop. Nurturing and attached relationships are essential to creating the conditions for all children to flourish.
All children have a right to play, to learn and to access experiences that meet their physical, social, emotional and cultural needs, and they have a right to associate with their peers. In line with Scotland's commitment to Getting It Right For Every Child, children also have the right to the best possible health, with their best interests a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect them. Adults, of course, also have fundamental rights in relation to their health and wellbeing.
These important rights and considerations have all been factored into the development of guidance for reopening and delivering school age childcare services.
The coronavirus continues to be suppressed to a low level in Scotland. In addition, we now know that children are less likely to be affected by the virus. Please see the advice from the advisory sub-group for education and children’s issues.
Therefore, subject to continued suppression of the virus and to surveillance and mitigations being in place, we are able to reduce some of the restrictions on delivery of childcare as laid out in previous guidance. However, we cannot yet return to normal childcare practice – we all need to ensure that we continue to manage services and mitigate risks. This guidance provides principles to help you make decisions that are based on the best available evidence to help you operate in this evolving context. Please be aware however, that public health advice will change over time and you should regularly check online to make sure you are working to the most recent version of this guidance.
This non-statutory guidance applies to all providers of Care Inspectorate registered school age childcare services in all sectors – local authority, private and third sectors. This includes breakfast clubs, after-school care and holiday care.
This guidance supersedes the guidance issued on 3 July 2020 and comes into effect from 10 August 2020. Where the guidance applies to only one of these services types, this is identified in the text. For fully outdoor services, this guidance should be read alongside Covid-19 Fully Outdoor Childcare Providers Guidance. For childminders who offer school aged childcare they should also refer to COVID-19: Childminder Services Guidance. For services who provide both early learning and childcare and school age childcare they should also refer to the COVID-19: guidance on reopening early learning and childcare services. Updated guidance for these services will be published and will also come into effect on 10 August 2020.
The guidance has been developed by the Scottish Government with key partners supporting the Education Recovery Group, including local authorities, trade unions, Care Inspectorate, Education Scotland and representatives of school age childcare providers and in collaboration with Health Protection Scotland (HPS). It has been informed by judgements based on the scientific and public health advice available at the time of writing.
This guidance is based on a set of principles for all services across Scotland that recognises the health and wellbeing of children and the adults who work with them must be central to any plans to reopen and deliver services. The principles in this document supports reviewing the delivery of childcare for those settings already open and assists for those planning to reopen in a manner which is consistent with wider efforts to control transmission of the virus and protects the health of children, their families, and the staff group
The core public health measures that underpin reopening of services are:
- enhanced hand hygiene and cleaning practice
- limiting children’s contacts
- maximizing the use of outdoor spaces
- physical distancing between adults and older children in the setting including parents at drop-off and pick-up times
- active engagement with Test and Protect
The aims of this guidance are to:
- provide clarity of expectation with regard to practical approaches to a safe reopening and reviewing current provision of school aged childcare settings; and
- provide key principles for consideration. This guidance is not intended to promote a “checklist” approach. Providers should exercise their judgement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children, families and staff, taking account of local circumstances and service type.
Where this guidance states that providers:
- “must” do something, there is an expectation that it is done without exception;
- “should” do something, this is strongly advised;
- “may” or “may wish” to do something, this is optional
Where this guidance refers to parents, this includes carers or family members who may be involved with children attending the settings.
This guidance is not exhaustive, and providers will continue to operate within the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks to ensure the health and wellbeing of children and parents while they are using their service. Measures put in place within the setting to comply with this guidance must not contravene health and safety legislation, for example, not leaving fire doors ajar to increase ventilation.
Nothing in this guidance affects the legal obligations of providers with regard to health and safety and public health advice. Providers must continue to adhere to all such duties when implementing this guidance. Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, they must have regard to any advice relating to coronavirus from the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland.
This guidance should be read alongside:
- Strategic Framework for Reopening Schools and ELC and the framework document COVID19- a framework for decision making.
- Health Protection Scotland non-healthcare settings guidance: this contains information on health protection and infection prevention and control issues including cleaning, hygiene measures, what to do if someone falls ill, laundry considerations and waste management.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on preparing for the start of the new school term in August 2020: this is non-statutory guidance for local authorities and schools. This may be relevant to those services using school premises.
- Infection Prevention and Control in Childcare Settings (Daycare and Childminding Settings)
- NHS inform – Covid 19
- NHS Inform Covid:19 Shielding Guidelines
- Health and Social Care Standards
- Test and Protect Guidance
- Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020
- Playwork Principles
- Setting the table: nutritional guidance and food standards for early years providers in Scotland.
- individual risk assessments
- Out to Play: practical guidance for creating outdoor play experiences in early learning and childcare.
Practical Guidance for Reopening of School Age Childcare Settings
- COVID-19 Guidance
- updating service status
- risk assessments
- infection prevention and control:
- cleaning practices
- enhanced hand hygiene
- physical distancing in school age childcare settings.
- caring for children in small groups.
- personal protective equipment (PPE)
- When a child or staff member becomes ill
- maximising use of outdoor spaces
- physical distancing (between adults in the setting, including parents at drop-off and pick-up times.)
- provision of meals and snacks
- evacuation procedures
- moving within and between settings
- blended placements
- sharing premises
Managers and staff employed in the setting must make themselves familiar with COVID-19 advice available from Health Protection Scotland before their service reopens and review once their setting is operational. It is important that the most up-to-date guidance is used and that managers and staff are up-to-date and knowledgeable about current guidance. Always access guidance online wherever possible and check regularly for any updated advice.
Prior to recommencing their service, the manager must contact the Care Inspectorate to advise them of their updated operational status.
To do this the manager must complete a “Changes to Service Delivery due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” notification. This is a new notification that services must use to inform the Care Inspectorate about operational changes that are specifically related to COVID-19. This is only available through eForms. If managers do not update their status, the Care Inspectorate will consider the service closed.