Coronavirus - update for early years settings
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 16 August 2021.
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. By legislation, relevant details can be passed (only if requested ans relevant) to the LOC/ PHE Teams or the DfE for the purpose of identifying trace contacts at settings.
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 within 14 days, 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
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.
- Government guidance includes all current guidance and actions for early settings. parent advice and more (DfE update July 2021)
- Furlough Scheme (CJRS) - extended until 30 September 2021 for government to cover wages up 60% from August and September for hours not worked (DfE August 2021)
- 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
What happens from Step 4 ref mixing of children and bubbles?
Now Step 4 has commenced, children and classes no longer need to be kept in consistent group (bubbles) and can mix together. But settings open all year can choose to keep bubbles until 31 August but should consider if this is determent to a child's development and learning.
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. Full government guidance
Asymptomatic testing of staff and children
For settings that are open throughout the summer, staff should continue to test (LFT) at least twice weekly if they are working. Staff should always test when they are on site and this should continue until the end of September 2021 when this will be reviewed by government.
Early years children are not included in the rapid testing programme. PHE advise such testing may be uncomfortable for children and they cannot self swab. Full government guidance on actions
LFT or COVID-19 symptoms and PCR positive tests.
LFT or COVID-19 symptoms: Staff with a positive LFT or covid19 symptoms, should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test. If the PCR is taken within 2 days of the LFT test and comes back negative, this will supersede the LFT positive and that person can return to work if they have no Covid19 symptoms.
To confirm, the individuals and their household must continue to self-isolate if:
- this PCR test result is positive
- the person chooses not to take a follow-up PCR test after the LFT was positive
- the follow-up PCR test was taken more than 2 days after the positive LFT test result
PCR: Staff and children with a confirmed positive PCR test will be required to self isolate for the full 10 day period
Close contacts of a positive case should now be identified via NHS Test and Trace (with help from the person testing positive) and will be informed to self isolate for 10 days. 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.
Important: It is highly probable that individuals who have tested positive will not be helpful in identifying trace contacts at settings as they will not have access to contact details (i.e. on children, parents), so Staffordshire's Local Outbreak Control Team may need to assist settings/ parents with this.
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. By legislation, relevant details can be passed (only if requested) to the LOC/ PHE Teams or the DfE Helpline when attempting to identify trace contacts at settings.
Adults: From 16 August, anyone who has been fully vaccinated for a minimum of 14 days prior to being identified as a trace contact of a positive case, will not need to self isolate (even if living in the same household) but will be asked to book a PCR test.
Children: From 16 August, children under the age of 18 will not be required to self isolate even if parents are contacted by NHS Test and Trace due to the child being a contact of someone testing positive either in a setting or elsewhere. Parents should be encouraged to book a PCR test for children although isolation will not be required whilst waiting for the results. Full government guidance on actions
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.
Ventilation, hygiene and face masks in early years settings.
Staff, children or visitors will no longer be required to wear masks in classes, corridors or communal areas. But there is a recommendation that masks should be worn in some circumstances and some settings may decide that staff and/ or visitors should continue to wear masks when on site.
Guidance is available on keeping spaces well ventilated, hygiene and cleaning as well when it could be appropriate for staff and visitors to wear masks at a setting (i.e. if there has been a confirmed positive).
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
Is testing being made available to early years settings and childminders?
Non-domestic settings (PVI):
- From August new Lateral Flow Devices will be introduced by NHS for the PVI early years settings called Orient Gene*. This test enables just swabbing of the nasal and not the throat with results in 30 minutes. Packs will be for home testing of staff and tests will be supplied in boxes of 7 and enable testing for three and a half weeks. Other test kits introduced for self testing at home will be Acon-Flowflex (nasal only) and Innova (throat and nasal swab)
- order test kits online *may not yet be available for online ordering
- Order test kits online to be delivered to your home. See above in the non- domestic information ref: new testing devices.
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. Full guidance from Step 4
Children can continue to access more than one so parents can meet their childcare and working needs.
Managing the dropping off and collection of children from Step 4 - the 'kiss and drop'.
Now the requirement to social distance has been removed parents/ carers are allowed to go into settings when collecting or dropping off children, but this is at the discretion of the setting.
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. Many parents are feeding back it is common for a member of staff, who does not ordinarily look after the child at the setting, to bring out their child but the staff member cannot provide updates about the child's day or how thet are getting on.
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 considerations made reference transportation
Settings who had 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 until called forward by NHS or the local authority. Book your vaccine online when advised
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 Covid19 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)
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.
Contact our team and we will endeavour to provide or seek a response.