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Current Coronavirus restrictions

Coronavirus - update for early years settings

Page updated: 12 May 2021


Introduction

This dedicated webpage will provide government guidance to Staffordshire childcare settings for the summer term 2021. On this page information is available on:

Local outbreak control - actions for setting with confirmed Covid-19 or suspected cases

Contacting the Local Outbreak Control Team for confirmed Covid-19 cases at a childcare setting and step by step guide, including considerations for childminders and reporting to Ofsted.

Guidance and financial support for early years settings

Government guidance on early years actions, holiday clubs or out of school care, financial support, furlough scheme, funded hours 2, 3 and 4 year olds and more.

Frequently asked questions

Your questions are answered for: current support available, testing kits, community centres, social distancing, CMA update, inspections, out of school clubs, what have we done and more.

Guidance was correct at the noted time of the update.


 

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

Important - settings must take action

Settings (includes childminders) must familiarise themselves with what to do in the event of a Covid-19 case or suspected cases. In this section you will find information and guidance on the reporting process in Staffordshire. It is important settings take immediate action.

1. Settings must inform the Local Outbreak Control team at Staffordshire County Council on suspected or confirmed cases and follow the steps as outlined:

2. For general infection control concerns or questions:

3. Settings must also tell Ofsted if they have a case of COVID-19 and the setting must close.

4. Settings can also seek advice by contacting the DfE if they cannot contact the Local Outbreak Control Team: 

  • 0800 046 8687 (option 1) which has replaced the previous local Public Health England lines. Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday) and 10am to 6pm Saturday and Sunday.

Please note: it is advisable that the Local Outbreak Control Team, should be the first initial contact.

Staff at childcare settings booking a test for COVID-19

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.




Guidance and financial support for early years settings during Covid-19

  • Guidance for educational settings includes current protective measures, cleaning, restrictions, managing cases for staff and children, visitors to the setting, attendance, informal childcare, childminder guidance and much more (DfE update May 2021)
    • tax relief
    • business rate holidays
    • business interruption loan
    • self-employment income support scheme (SEISS - FYI - childminders)
    • small business grants 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

Settings who close and need to signpost critical workers looking for childcare please email our Early Education and Childcare Team and we will assist.

 


 

Frequently asked questions

How has the council co-ordinated a response and supported early years?

We have continued to communicate and contact childcare settings with help from our colleagues at Entrust to obtain information from settings and we have constantly reviewed the impact of the virus and sustainability in the sector. Settings completing the fortnightly DfE survey have helped us to do this.

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.

What do I need to do in confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19?

We have supplied full guidance, steps and flowchart that settings should read as it advises settings on what to do in relation to suspected cases or an outbreak. 

Settings must be aware that staff who receive a positive result from a Lateral Flow Test must isolate immediately and book a confirmatory PCR test within two days to confirm the result. This can be done on the national booking portal or by calling 119. If the confirmatory PCR test comes back as negative, then they and everybody in their household and support bubbles can be released from isolation.

Is there support available to discuss re-opening a setting or any other considerations?

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 will contact the business team on your behalf.

What will happen about Ofsted Inspections?

Education Inspection Framework visits for Early Years settings could commence from 4th May 2021 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.

Full inspections announcement from September 2021

Is testing being made available to early years settings and childminders?

Non-domestic settings (PVI): initially the council arranged Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) to take place in PVI non-domestic early years settings from February 2021. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) then advised that from 1st April 2021 settings should use the DfE testing scheme (Blue test Kits) instead of through local councils.

The DfE will send settings a welcome email with the settings UON ( Unique Organisation Number) and will send settings enough home testing kits to cover until the end of May. Settings who think they will run out of tests before the end of May can contact the helpline on 0800 046 8687.

After the end of May settings will need to use the new online ordering system for test kits.

Childminders can: 

Guidance for before and after school care / wraparound, holiday clubs and childminders dropping off or collecting children.

Out-of-school and wraparound settings can offer provision to all children, without restriction on the reasons for which they may attend. Some settings who operate at certain venues may still have restrictions on being able to open fully.

Indoor settings - until 17 May, if the setting is indoors, and it is not possible to group children in the same bubble as they are in during the school day, settings should keep children in consistent groups of no more than 15 children and at least one staff member.

Indoor settings - from 17 May, where settings operate indoors, they will be able to take place in groups of any number. But settings should still consider risk factors, ventilation and capacity levels.

Settings are encouraged to follow the government guidelines on how this can be done and review of group sizes. 

Outdoor settings and activities can continue to operate with any number of children, but the setting must minimise the mixing of children where possible.

Child attendance at more than one setting and childminder school run. Some parents will require more than one setting to meet their working requirements and childcare needs, this includes childminders being able to pick up and collect from schools. Childminders should review the above guidance and review the considerations for the different age groups for children i.e. 0-5 years and school age children.

When will early years staff be vaccinated?

The government have yet to outline which group the early years sector will fall under.

Settings who have critically vulnerable children in their care who were attending the setting in early February have been contacted to vaccinate staff who have direct contact or care for the child. There will also be cases where staff members will be vaccinated as they themselves fall under a priority group.

No person should book a vaccination at this time unless they have been confirmed to do so by the local council or contacted by the NHS as the person now falls under the next age band call forward for vaccination.

Can settings at community venues open?

Venues that are multi-use purposes facilities can open when providing childcare and youth activities, but owners of such venues will have to determine the risk of their multi-use venue and if it should be open or closed during the current restrictions. Full guidance and measures for safe use, social distancing and capacity at such venues is available.

Childminders meeting other childminders

Updated May 2021 (see guidance for updates)

Childminders can meet with other childminders, when it is reasonably necessary, and do not need to be restricted to limits on gatherings as long as:

  • meetings are for the purpose of education or childcare
  • EYFS staff-child ratios are adhered to
  • the guidance reference trips taken outside of the setting is followed.

Ideally, adults should maintain a 2 meter distance from each other

Is there advice and guidance for parents?

Government have also issued advice and guidance to parents 

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). 

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 those dropping off/ collecting children 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.

How was the autumn term 2020 Early Education Funding calculated and what was the Guaranteed Funding Amount (GFA)?

Information on task dates, payments and protection for settings whose child numbers were below those claimed for in autumn 2019 were outlined on our autumn EEF page.

Spring term 2021 Early Education Funding

On the advice of the DfE funded childcare places reverted to payment on actual participation/ children attending from 1st January 2021, with some exceptions which settings were written to and updated . 

What must settings consider when charging parents during lockdown period? 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 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. 

Redundancy and careers advice for employees 

The National Careers Service has set up and triage service to give people advice concerned about redundancy or finding work.

Can clarity be provided about the definition of vulnerable children and critical workers?

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.

Government has released information on the full list of vulnerable children and the critical worker list. People who work in childcare are classed as critical workers.

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