Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school age childcare services guidance

Non-statutory guidance to support a safe and supportive environment.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school age childcare services guidance
Transitions

Transitions

Moving between different areas within settings

When following a cohort approach, providers may wish to consider the following:

  • one-way systems: If feasible, settings may wish to adopt one-way systems within corridors and stairs. This may help avoid bottlenecks and ease travel around the setting. Where a provider is based in a school or other community building it will be helpful wherever possible to consider this in partnership with other users
  • external circulation: As part of a circulation strategy it may be beneficial in some settings to encourage the use of external areas to move between parts of the building. This may reduce the use of internal areas and also provide  fresh air. Safety in all weathers and security issues would require to be considered in each location
  • signage/communication: Appropriate signage and/or verbal communication with children, parents and staff about the system adopted may need to be implemented if it differs from previous. Again where a provider is based in a school or other community building it will be helpful wherever possible to consider this in partnership with other users. 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 staff: Settings should review use of peripatetic staff to reflect the current advice for the level in which they are located 

Table 5: 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 school 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 school 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, or across settings: 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)
  • 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

School age childcare - blended placements

This relates to children attending more than one setting (for example, more than one setting that provides school age childcare).  For the purposes of this guidance, it is assumed that all children attending school age childcare will also be attending a school or other educational establishment. 

It remains very important to continue to minimise the number of contacts and risk of transmission, and to maintain progress in suppressing the virus. 

Guidance on blended placement is specific to the setting’s protection level.

Table 6: blended placements

Level 0 and below

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/Stay local

All blended placements can go ahead.

 

 

 

The risk of transmission is lower where group size is smaller and lower where provision is outdoors. For this reason, blended placements need not be restricted when they involve a fully outdoor setting provided the blended arrangement involves no more than two settings. They also need not be restricted when they involve indoor settings – if one of the settings is caring for fewer than 12 children, provided the blended arrangement involves no more than two settings.

 

With the exceptions set out above, other blended placements are permitted only where they ensure access to high quality childcare and meet childcare need.

The risk of transmission is lower outdoors and so blended placements need not be restricted when they involve a fully outdoor setting, provided the blended arrangement involves no more than two settings.

 

With the exception set out above children should ideally attend one setting only but blended placements are permitted to ensure access to high quality childcare and to meet childcare need.

 

 

 

 

The use of blended placements should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Blended placement must be supported by a refreshed risk assessment that has been undertaken in collaboration with parents and all providers involved in the care of the child.

If there is an outbreak within the child’s cohort arrangement in either of the settings that the child attends, blended placements should, where possible, be suspended until after the outbreak. A cluster or outbreak of COVID-19 occurs when a school 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 school 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

The decision about whether to suspend the blended placement and which one setting the child should attend while the blended placement is suspended should be made in discussion with the family and the settings involved.

Lead in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as possible but no more than 7 days.

School age childcare workers may undertake drop-off and pick-up from schools but physical distancing with other adults must be maintained.

Where it is judged that a child can continue to attend more than one setting, consideration should be given to sharing of record keeping across settings, to assist with any Test and Protect process. Any records should be managed in a way which is consistent with the requirements of GDPR.

Sharing school premises and community premises

Many school age childcare services operate from school or community premises that are shared with others. Where services have their own entrance, exit and general facilities including toilets and kitchen facilities they should follow this guidance as a stand-alone service.

Where services share facilities with schools, they should consider the following:

  • engage in early discussion with the local authority to agree use of premises
  • potential implications of the school operating model
  • arrangements for cleaning
  • maintaining physical distance from other users
  • make arrangements for the use of outdoor spaces

Where services make use of community spaces and facilities, they should consider the following:

  • early discussion with local authority or landlord to agree continued use of premises or facilities
  • potential implications of sharing spaces with other community groups including maintaining physical distance with other users
  • arrangements for cleaning
  • maximising use of outdoor spaces where available

First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 11 Oct 2021 -