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Coronavirus - update for early years settings

Page updated: 3 July 2020

Since 1 June, early years settings have been able to welcome back children of all ages with certain restrictions in place (i.e. bubbles) and not just those children of critical worker parents or vulnerable children.

NEW DfE Update 2 July - From 20 July, early years settings will no longer be required to keep children in small, consistent groups within their setting. Settings should still consider how they can minimise mixing within settings, for example where they use different rooms for different age groups, keeping those groups apart as much as possible.

This dedicated webpage will provide useful advice and guidance to Staffordshire early settings all in one place. Information will be supplied on:

  • NEW - government guidance on lifting of restrictions (bubbles) from 20 July
  • UPDATED - guidance and toolkit from government and Staffordshire County Council for settings who are re-opening
  • NEW - Holiday clubs and out of school care guidance
  • NEW - local outbreak control (test and trace) 
  • NEW - funded childcare places for autum 2020
  • government financial assistance via the business hub
  • covid-19 testing for staff
  • careers and redundancy advice
  • home schooling and play case study
  • contact information for DfE Covid-19 enquiries and Public Health England
  • frequently asked questions on: support available, PPE, children attending more than one setting, before and after school and holiday clubs, community centres, parent guidance, social distancing, what to do in cases of Covid-19, local outbreak control (test and trace) and funded childcare


Guidance and support for early years settings during Covid-19

  • The Business Support Hub - settings can find information on eligibility and how to apply for: tax relief, job retention scheme, business rate holidays, self-employment grant, small business grant and more.
    • Discretionary grant - local district and borough councils are handling the application and decsion process and deadlines apply. Please visit the website of the local council your setting falls under.
  • Home schooling and play (327 KB) - case study - Little Owls Childcare and Oaklands Nursery School on impact of families and wellbeing

If any setting temporally closes or re-opens, we politely ask if you can keep us up to date and complete and relevant surveys that we send out, this will help us map what is happening in each area. 

Settings who close and need to signpost keyworkers looking for childcare, or any setting requires support in re-opening, please email our  Early Education and Childcare Team and our team will assist where possible.



DfE coronavirus contacts

The Department for Education (DfE) have a dedicated website and helpline to answer questions about Covid-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)

Public Health England has a dedicated webpage with a range of posters and digital materials.

Sign up is quick, free and means you will be alerted as more resources are made available.



Frequently asked questions

Is the council co-ordinating a response for early years?

Yes, and we will continue to contact childcare settings with help from our colleagues at Entrust to obtain information on which settings are open or closed and our team are reviewing the impact of the virus and sustainability in the sector. 

Do settings have to re-open from 1 June or 20 July?

The government encouraged early years settings and schools to open for as many children as possible with restrictions from 1 June. The next and updated phase from 20 July has the restrictions of small groups being relaxed and settings will be able to welcome back more children without the need for small consistent groups as previously stated in 1 June guidance. But settings should still try to minimise mixing of children/ age groups where possible.

However, settings need to make their own decisions about whether it is still safe or viable to open at this time, taking into consideration protective measures, staff availability and meetings ratios and which parents can or want to bring children back. See above document for considerations for re-opening.

Is there support available to discuss re-opening a setting particularly about space at a premises and staffing?

Some support is available via our Entrust Early Years colleagues. If you know your district consultant you can contact them direcly or email the Early Education and Childcare Team detailing your enquiry and will contact the business team on your behalf.

Is the council supplying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

The council have contacted education settings about providing a free emergency pack of PPE which is available for collection at local fire stations from 1 June. Collection must be arranged via phonecall as the fire stations are operational, without prior arrangement you will not be able to collect your PPE.  Proof of ID will be requested upon collection. Full details were supplied in the letter sent to providers (via email) in the week of 26 May 2020.

Will settings be running at a reduced capacity?

It is very likely in most if not all cases that settings will have less children, staff or space to supply education and childcare.

The above guidance toolkit and considerations on re-opening outline what settings must consider and work towards to keep children and staff safe. 

But settings also have to work to towards the space and staff ratios they have available. It is also quite possible settings may need to make some tough decsions and inform some they parents will not get the hours or days they would require (or had previously had), or even start back at all yet, this will due to settings having to now abide by protective measurees and working safely.

What is the advice for children attending more than one setting which could include before and after school care/ wraparound, holiday clubs?

Government have issued advice with regards to children attending more than one setting, which is quite common practice amongst families.

Public Health England do state that wherever possible parents should be encouraged to send children to just one setting, but it is recognised that this may not be possible in all cases and some children may need to attend more than one setting.

Childcare settings and schools are encouraged to operate their before and after school care, but will need to make their own decisions on the safety of children and staff based on published guidance. Settings should be reasonable and understand the situations of working parents particularly for critical workers who had arrangements already in place prior to 1st June, whether this was a before and school club or childminder pick up/ drop off.

  • before and after school care and holiday clubs ON school sites from 1st June: Where it was safe to do so school run and privately run provision were allowed to open on school sites during the school term, this is encouraged by government and should be considered by settings so long as the guidelines can be followed in providing care safely for staff and keeping children in the same or smaller groups (e.g. bubbles). From 20th July - Holiday clubs whether school run or privately run on a school site can also be open for more children.
  • out of school care and holiday clubs NOT on a school site from 20th July can re-open for children of all ages in line with the new government guidance
  • nurseries and childminders providing childcare during the school holiday can continue to do so for any children that would normally be in their care during the term time period i.e. 0-5 years. Also from 20th July settings can cater for more children from school age groups due to the relaxing of restrictions, see above government guidance.
  • What if a case of covid-19 occurs at one setting: appropriate information must be shared with other settings where children attend more than the one setting, information can shared if the correct advice is followed and sought as per guidelines.

What is the advice for childminders collecting and dropping off children at school or another early years setting?

Childminder drop off/ collection: though parents should be encouraged to minimise their children attending more than one setting, this will not always be possible due to working requirements particualrly critical workers, therefore childminders are allowed to drop off and collect children from schools or other settings just as a parent would do in dropping off or collecting their child and so long as guidelines are followed.

Childminders should consider minimising the number of children in their groups and and school/ setting runs where possible.

Can settings at community venues open?

Yes, from 1 June, community centres or places of worship will be allowed to open for providers on the early years register which usually use those premises. Providers should ensure they are acting in line with the protective measures and safe working guidance

From 20 July, community-facing premises including village halls, community centres and places of worship should considering opening for holiday clubs and activities.

Is there advice and guidance for parents?

Yes, not all parents will get a place at their childcare setting in the short term, in some cases they might get a place but not in the same manner (e.g. hours or sessions) as their child previously attended, this will be due to settings having to make decisions with the resoruces and guidance available to them.

Government have also issued some advice and guidance to parents accessing childcare for the summer term 2020.

There is also new guidance for parents and holiday clubs for the summer.

Where else can settings go to seek business advice, insurance and potential impact of an enforced closure?

Settings are advised to contact their insurance company to seek advice on their policy in the event of a closure. Settings are also advised to contact organisations such as the NDNA, Pacey, EY Alliance (formerly PLA). 

Do settings have to consider social distancing elements for parents dropping off and picking up children?

Yes, settings are advised to adhere to social distancing guidance, particularly in relation to parents (or childminders) collecting or dropping off children and congregating in foyer areas. Settings may need to advise to wait at the premises entrance or gates or even stagger collections or drops offs, but clear guidance must be put in place for all visitors to the setting.

What should settings (including childminders) do if there is a case of covid-19 on site?

When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases, a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary (source DfE- Direct Gov website).

Local outbreak control (test and trace)

New arrangements for responding to test and trace for Covid-19 within education and early years settings. 

Please familiarise yourself with the overview document below which provides some of the national Information and background and information on how this is being operationalised locally within Staffordshire.

Please ensure that you understand and are familiar with the new Covid-19 outbreak reporting arrangements.

If you have any enquires regarding these arrangements please contact our response team:

Can staff get tested for Covid-19?

Access to testing is already available to all essential workers. This includes anyone involved in education, childcare or social work - including both public and voluntary sector workers, as well as foster carers.

Education settings, as employers, can book tests through an online digital portal. There is also an option for employees to book tests directly on the portal.

What if a funded child is leaving my setting in the summer term?

We paid 100% of claims for the summer term in April 2020 to those settings who completed the forecast task in March 2020.

Any child who leaves a setting this summer term, the provider will retain the funding they claimed for that child in the forecast and we will not be asking for it back.

Similarly, providers will be able to claim for children who are starting with them from 1 June 2020. Headcount tasks will be sent to providers who have had new starters and and funding will be paid only if the children are in attendance form 1 June. 

How much funding should settings give back to parents upon re-opening in summer term?

Settings who have been closed at some point should treat the summer term as if they have been open throughout and apply funding in the same manner as they normally would have done prior to lockdown. Settings will need to calculate how many weeks of funding a family have left from the setting's re-opening date.

So as an example, settings who would have supplied 13 weeks of funding from 20 April 2020 as term time only (and not during the school holidays - Easter and May half term), would need to supply families with the 7 weeks of funding they had left if the setting re-opened as of 1 June.

Providers must not change the parameters of their funding arrangements with parents unless this has been agreed or they were previously consulted with and/or advised/ given notice.

What if settings close permanently?

We paid 100% of funding up front for the summer 2020 term. However, as per the provider agreement (clause 13.20) any setting that permanently closes (resigns from Ofsted) or has no intention of re-opening, will have funding reclaimed from the date of closure as is standard practice. 

If settings have any further enquires not covered above which are related to early education funding for 2, 3 and 4 year olds who can they contact?

Contact our team and we will endeavour to provide or seek a response. 

Can clarity be provided about the definition of vulnerable children?

Vulnerable children now include only children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans. In some cases, evidence maybe required.

Can clarity be provided about the definition of who the keyworkers are?

Government has released information on vulnerable children and the keyworker list. Settings are strongly advised to follow this list and for any family that are not classed as keyworkers must not be allowed into the setting.

The list does not provide deeper clarity e.g. staff serving fast food. Therefore settings are advised to strongly consider that such groups are not considered to be part of this list and therefore not critical or keyworkers.

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