Moving between different 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 a 2m 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 ensure that staff who by nature of their role support multiple settings only attend settings in person where it is demonstrably in support of the health and wellbeing of children and to minimise the time they are on site. Consideration should also be given to alternative methods of delivery, including remote provision, to other settings.
- Staff employed in more than one childcare setting: Staff with a single employer should only work across more than one childcare setting or service when it is absolutely necessary. Risk assessments should be carried out where staff are employed by more than one childcare provider. Consideration should be given to sharing of information such as setting contact details, to support contact tracing. Consideration should be given to additional joint risk assessment and mitigations by providers to reduce the number of children and other staff that staff members work with across settings. Staff, whether permanent or agency/bank, must not work across 2 premises if there is an outbreak in one; risk assessment of the second location may be needed to establish any transmission risk.
- 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.
- Use of agency or bank staff: where settings use agency or bank staff they should ensure that staff do not move between settings where possible.
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 as schools and the childcare sector re-opens more widely. As has been the case, parents and carers should be encouraged and supported to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally attending only one school age childcare setting. For children who attend more than one setting, consideration should be given to ensuring their child only attends the same setting(s) consistently.
As already explained elsewhere in this guidance, risk assessments must be refreshed in the context of the re-opening school age childcare settings and in the context of the new variant of concern. Provided they are supported by a refreshed risk assessment that has been undertaken in collaboration with parents and all providers involved in the care of the child, and in agreement that they continue to be required to ensure access to high quality childcare and to meet childcare needs, existing blended placements may continue.
Where increased demand for blended placements arises due to the wider re-opening of schools and childcare settings these requests should also be risk assessed and considered together, on a case by case basis, by Local Authorities, providers and parents. This should take account of the importance of children’s wellbeing and protecting their access to high quality school age childcare which supports families’ needs.
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 & 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