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National lockdown: Stay at home

Coronavirus - update for early years settings

Page updated: 24 February 2021


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

Update Jan 2021: As per the Prime Minister announcement on 4 January 2021 who confirmed early years setting should remain open for all early years aged children, this is also applicable to governor run and maintained nursery provision.

Local outbreak control - actions for setting with confirmed Covid19 or suspected cases

Contacting the Local Outbreak Control Team for confirmed Covid19 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/ out of school care and split provision, financial support, furlough scheme, funded hours 2, 3 and 4 year olds and more.

Frequently asked questions

Your questions are answered for: support available, PPE and testing kits/ download posters, community centres, social distancing, CMA update, testing, redundancy/ looking for work and funded childcare.



Local outbreak control - actions for settings with confirmed Covid19 or suspected cases

Important - settings must take action

Settings (includes childminders) must familiarise themselves with what to do in the event of a Covid19 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 covid19 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 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 and much more (DfE update Feb 2021)
  • Financial Support for Early Years  (DfE Feb 2021) settings can find information on eligibility and how to apply for:
    • tax relief
    • job retention scheme/ furlough (CJRS)-  extended until April 2021
    • business rate holidays
    • business interruption loan
    • self-employment grant
    • 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
  • Spring term 2021 funded childcare places DFE update (Jan 2021) - Funded childcare places will revert to payment on actual participation/ children attending from 1st January 2021, with some exceptions. 
  • Covid19 Impact Grant Sping term 2021 - settings were written to in early January 2021 to advise them they could be eligible for a small amount of financial support to the maximum of £800 (non-domestic) and £360 (childminders) if impacted by covid19. There is no application process, settings simply follow the guidelines notifiying the LOC Team ref positive cases in staff or children at the setting.
  • Home schooling and play (327 KB) - case study - Little Owls Childcare and Oaklands Nursery School on impact of families and wellbeing
  • 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

If any setting temporally closes or re-opens, we politely ask if you can keep us up to date and complete the weekly surveys that we send out.

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

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 constantly reviewing the impact of the virus and sustainability in the sector. Settings completing the fortnightly DfE survey help us to do this.

What do I need to do in confirmed or suspected cases of Covid19?

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

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?

Ofsted will look at a phased return to graded inspections from summer 2021. Settings may still visit receive a support visit  offer support with regards to EYFS and for those settings for those who have not been inspected when they would have been during Covid19. Ofsted will still visit settings if they are welfare concerns raised. Full Ofsted release for inspections.

Is testing being made available to early years settings?

The council has continued to arrange Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) to take place in early years settings. Several updates have been supplied to the sector to submit expressions of interest, webinars, the testing process and so on and settings who opted in have started to receive and use their LFT devices.

The government updated on 22nd February that the PVI sector for early years will have LFT made available to all settings so tests can be conducted in the home.

Childminders: The logistics on home based testing for childminders and training more complex at this time. Therefore, we have made arrangements to ensure that childminders can gain regular access to one of eight community testing hubs which are open 7 days a week; we also have a fleet of COVID community vehicles that will be touring the county to set up pop-up testing sites:

List of sites and to book a test

Once you select your venue, date/ time and personal details, you must select "yes" when asked if you are a registered childminder. You must input your Ofsted registration number (URN).

Childminders who have difficulty with this process can email our team

The government provided an update in February that they continue to review testing for childminders.

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

Currently parents should attend only one setting but in some cases the government realise parents will require more than one setting to meet their working requirements and childcare needs, and this is allowed and should be prioritised for critical workers and vulnerable children.

From 8th March out of school clubs and wraparound will be allowed to open indoor and outdoor for slightly more children in line with the guidelines below.

From 29th March restrictions will be lifted for all children for outdoor activities, children can be cared for indoors will continue to be those children who are vulnerable and free school meals.

Settings are encouraged to follow the government guidelines on how this can be done.  The cCuncil and Entrust also produced guidance and considerations for settings to review. It is possible that some settings may not be able to open at venues who are not permitted to open during the current restrictions.

Childminders can currently continue to look after all early years children; together with school-age children (from reception onwards) who are vulnerable or children of critical workers

Supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), testing kits for settings?

The council contacted education settings about providing a free emergency pack of PPE which was available for collection at local fire stations in June.

Information on current and emergency supply of PPE can be found on our dedicated PPE page 

DfE are supplying testing kits to schools, local authorities have been in discussions with the DfE about supplying test kits to childcare settings. We will announce any update on this, but staff can currently book for tests

When will early years staff be vaccinated?

The government have yet to outline which group the early years sector will fall under, but this is under constant review.

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/ 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 health authority.

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 should be open or closed during the current lockdown restrictions. Full guidance and measures for safe use at such venues is available.

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.

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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