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Coronavirus - update for early years settings

Introduction

This dedicated webpage will provide advice to Staffordshire childcare settings ref COVID-19 in line with current guidance. You will find information on the government guidance, actions for settings with COVID-19 cases, financial support, EYFS disapplications and your frequently asked questions on bubbles, testing, inspections, support, charging parents and much more.

The information on this page was accurate as of 20 January 2022.


 


 

Local outbreak control - actions for settings with confirmed COVID-19 or suspected cases

Important - actions for settings

In this section early years settings will find information and guidance on the reporting process in Staffordshire. 

1. Settings can continue to get advice from the Local Outbreak Control (LOC) team at Staffordshire County Council on suspected or confirmed cases. The LOC Team may also be involved in assisting NHS Test & Trace with identifying trace contacts at settings.

GDPR - ref potential contacts of positive cases: settings must not pass details or contact information about parents, children or staff onto other parents or staff. 

2. What if someone develops symptoms at the setting?

  • Settings should take action in sending staff home to get tested and children should be isolated to await collection. Full guidance.

3. Local Outbreaks and what to do:

  • If a setting has several COVID-19 positives, it is likely this could be considered an outbreak.

  • details of managing local outbreak controls plans for schools and early years settings should put in place.
  • Settings should contact the DfE Helpline ref outbreaks: 0800 046 8687 (option 1) Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday) and 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday, who will escalate this to local teams.

4. Settings must also tell Ofsted (or agency for some childminders) if they have a single case of COVID-19 or the setting must close.

Staff at childcare settings booking a test for COVID-19

Staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 can book tests through an online digital portal




Government guidance and financial support for early years settings during COVID-19

  • Government guidance includes all current guidance and actions for early settings. parent advice and more 
  • Test and Trace Support Payment - a £500 grant is available for the self-employed business (i.e. childminders) who could be eligible for this test and trace payment through the local borough or district councils
  • Posters and digital materials have been produced by Public health England. Sign up is quick, free and means you will be alerted as more resources are made available. The Council has also produced materials that can be used by early years setting

Frequently Asked Questions

Mixing of children and bubbles?

Children and classes no longer need to be kept in bubbles and can mix together. Settings should make sure their outbreak management plans cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce keeping groups apart for a temporary period.

Asymptomatic testing of staff and children

Staff must continue to test (LFT) at least twice weekly (3-4 days apart) if they are working. If staff are identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19, they can continue working but must do an LFT everyday for seven days.

0-5 year olds children are not included in the rapid testing programme. PHE advise such testing may be uncomfortable for children and they cannot self swab.

LFT or COVID-19 symptoms and PCR tests.

Positive LFT: anyone with a positive LFT should self-isolate immediately but will not require a confirmatory PCR test.

Those who still need a PCR test will be anyone who:

  • has symptoms (in which case they need to follow the stay at home guidance, self-isolate and order a PCR test)
  • wishes to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment
  • has been advised to take a PCR test because they are in a clinically vulnerable group
  • has been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme

To confirm, individuals must continue to self-isolate if:

  • either a LFT or PCR test result is positive
  • when someone has symptoms and awaiting a PCR test

How long is isolation?

A person could stop isolating after 5 full days of testing positive (or symptoms started), if:

  • an LFT is done on days 5 and 6 of the isolation period and both tests are negative
  • both tests are done 24 hours apart
  • the person does not have a high temperature

Staff and children can then immediately leave isolation and return to a setting on day 6

  • If either test on day 5 or 6 comes back as positive - staff or children cannot leave isolation until they receive two consecutive negative tests taken one day apart, or the 10 day isolation has been completed.
  • Anyone who does not take an LFT or continues to have a high temperature will need to complete the 10 day isolation.
  • The rules for contacts have not changed. Fully vaccinated individuals who are identified as contacts of someone with COVID-19 should take daily LFTs for 7 days but are not legally required to self-isolate. 
  • Unvaccinated contacts are legally required to self-isolate for the full 10-day period

NHS guidance on isolation

Tracing contacts and self isolation

  • Staff who are close contacts of a positive case will be identified via NHS Test and Trace. 
  • Staff who have been double vaccinated for at least 14 days (or anyone over 5 years old) DOES NOT need to self isolate if identified as a contact of a positive covid case, but staff must take a lateral flow test for 7 consecutive days and report the results. If staff continue to test negative and do not show symptoms, they can keep working.
  • People who cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons DO NOT need to self isolate.
  • Double vaccinated staff who have a lateral flow test (LFT) come back as positive or a person develops symptoms, will still need to self-isolate. Those with symptoms will isolate pending the outcome of a PCR test.
  • Children under 5 years old are exempt from self-isolation and daily lateral flow testing, though if someone in their hosuehold tests postitive it is recommended the child has a PCR test. Children only need to self isolate if they develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

Settings will no longer have responsibility of identifying trace contacts but could be contacted by the Local Outbreak Control Team if there is an outbreak.

GDPR - ref potential contacts of positive cases: settings must not pass details or contact information about parents, children or staff onto other parents or staff. 

Childminders COVID-19 FAQ

There is new guidance available from the DfE for childminders in relation to COVID-19 actions. The guidance will help childminders make decisions and confirm what they can do ref childminding in residential premises ref contacts or positive cases of COVID-19

DfE Guidance

What if someone at the setting develops symptoms

If a staff member develops symptoms they should be sent home immediately and should full isolation guidelines and book a PCR test.

If a child has symptoms parents must be informed to come and collect the child to take home. When child is awaiting collection, appropriate PPE should be used by staff if close contact is necessary. Rooms should be thoroughly cleaned after. 

Settings can make a reasonable judgement to decide if a child with symptoms who has not had a PCR test should be refused access to the setting for the purpose of protecting other children and staff. Your decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and current public health advice

Ventilation, hygiene and face masks in early years settings.

Staff and visitors (includes parents) are no longer required to wear face masks indoor or in communal areas of a setting.

Handwashing and sanitation must still be encouraged by all staff and children.

When your setting is in operation, it is important to ensure it is well ventilated and that a comfortable environment is maintained. You should identify any poorly ventilated spaces as part of your risk assessment and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas and non domestic settings should be using their CO2 monitor if it has been delivered.

What will happen about Ofsted Inspections?

Education Inspection Framework visits for Early Years settings commenced from 4 May 2021 until 1 September with priority given to providers:

  • judged less than good at their last inspection (including those who received an interim visit in the autumn term)
  • that registered recently but have not been inspected
  • whose first inspection is overdue
  • that were not inspected in the last inspection cycle due to the pause in routine inspection
  • Childminder Agencies have also been advised to commence quality assurance visits from 4 May 2021.

The EY inspection handbook for inspections from 1 September 2021

Testing for early years settings and childminders

Non-domestic settings (PVI)

Childminders can: 

Guidance for out of school care, holiday clubs and children accessing more than one setting.

Restrictions lifted and limits on number of children will not be required and trips and visits can occur without the need to keep children in consistent groups.

C, before and aftre school activities, including wraparound can remain open in Plan B, and children can continue to access more than one settings so parents can meet their childcare and working needs.

Managing the dropping off and collection of children, the 'kiss and drop'.

Through the pandemic settings have understandably adopted a 'kiss and drop' element where parents (or childminders) collect or drop off children at the door. Settings will now need to decide how the collecting and dropping off children will work moving forward with the change of restrictions.

Settings who continue with the 'kiss and drop'  should consider how they liaise, build relationships and communicate with parents about their children. 

Settings should also seriously consider the impact ref safeguarding, particularly with the removal of EYFS disapplications. Considerations should be around how parent conversations (pre-pandemic) would help identify concerns or red flags in certain circumstances, this will be of focus when Ofsted do inspections and speak with parents.

Settings taking children on educational visits

All settings can take groups of children on visits to both indoor and outdoor places, but risk assessments will need to be in place and ensure that any public health advice, such as hygiene and ventilation requirements, is included as part of that risk assessment. considerations made reference transportation

Is there advice and guidance for parents?

Government have also issued advice and guidance to parents 

Is there support available to discuss concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the business?

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

How the council and Entrust have supported early years.

We have provided support outside business as usual and listened to settings to help them operate throughout Covid-19. Find out what support has been made available to the sector.

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 (childminders), EY Alliance (formerly PLA). 

What must settings consider when charging parents during isolations? Competition and Markets Authority update

The CMA investigated and released information and guidance on considerations for the early years sector when it comes to contracts, charges and fair or unfair practices with parents and childcare charges:

CMA: Early Years Sector Letter and Update advice and guidance - Consumer Law on privately/ voluntary charging parents during COVID-19 (DfE update 28 July)

If settings have any further enquires or have parents looking for childcare, please contact our team

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

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