Individual settings have established practice for settling children and their families into the setting and this should continue wherever practicable and safe to do so. It is important that children are sensitively supported into their new arrangements, while maintaining physical distancing between adults. Education Scotland have developed two resources to supporting transitions during COVID restrictions: Transitions in 2020 and the Wakelet on Supporting young children at points of transition.
Providers may wish to provide a virtual tour of the setting to children and parents prior to the child attending. Wherever possible when a child is settling into the service, this should be undertaken with the parent or carer in an outdoor area away from other children. It is important that relationships are developed and the settling in period reflects the needs of the children.
Providers should consider how they will support staff, parents and children to familiarise themselves to the revised layouts and movement patterns described above. For children with additional support needs (ASN), settings must work in partnership with parents, lead professionals, children and young people to establish what support and plans need to be put in place to meet their needs. Enhanced transitions may be considered for all children, including those with ASN, such as through visual representations and plans of physical distancing in their settings. View the guidance on support for continuity in learning.
Providers may wish to consider the following approaches:
- A map could be distributed and also displayed in the setting detailing entry/exit points and new circulation patterns, for use by children, staff and parents.
- Social stories and videos could be shared with children in advance to explain what will be new and what the childcare session will be like.
- Drawing on learning from the retail sector, clear signage and colour coding on walls and floors could be implemented prior to return to help with wayfinding.
- Appropriate visuals will be particularly important for children. These will need to be clear and child friendly to enable them to be understood by as many children as possible. These could include signs that display meaningful symbols. Any signage that involves direct interaction from children will need to be cleaned regularly and additional methods of communication should also be considered.
Visitors to the setting
Visits to the setting should be avoided unless necessary, and this should be with permission of the manager, head teacher or local authority. This includes adult visitors to the setting e.g. contractors, deliveries etc. Adult visitors to settings should be strictly limited only to those that are necessary to support children or the construction, maintenance and running of the setting and arrangements should be communicated clearly to staff and the wider childcare community. Other authorised visitors will include the Care Inspectorate who have a legal duty to undertake scrutiny work.
Telephone calls, online meetings and ‘virtual’ visits should be the norm for regular and other meetings with specialists and parents. However, where it may be in the best interests of children for a specialist or parent or carer to attend in person, this should be considered on a case by case basis, for example in relation to child protection issues, addressing additional support needs or where a parent has a disability which affects communication over the telephone or online.
For necessary visitors, when face to face communication is essential, this should be reflected in risk assessments and risk mitigations and physical distancing guidance should be adhered to. Consider whether essential face to face communication could take place outdoors. If it takes place indoors, ensure that the 2m physical distancing requirements can be strictly adhered to, the meeting space is well ventilated, face coverings are worn and that there is a supply of antibacterial hand gel available to visitors at the entrance to the setting.
Additional arrangements for sharing information between staff and families should be agreed to ensure that clear lines of communication are available where face to face contact is being reduced, for example this might include (where appropriate) video messaging, phone calls or text messages, photographs or email. When settings communicate using these additional measures they must also consider the General Data Protection regulations (GDPR), and update their existing privacy policies where necessary.