I have read through the government document “Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings” and summarise the key points affecting childminders here. Please note that this information only pertains to childminders living in England.
In childcare settings, providers will be asked to welcome back all children below statutory school age from the week commencing 1 June.
Where the physical layout of a setting does not allow small groups of children to be kept at a safe distance apart, we expect practitioners to exercise judgement in ensuring the highest standards of safety are maintained. In some cases, it may be necessary for providers to introduce a temporary cap on numbers to ensure that safety is prioritised.
From 1 June, childminders can look after children of all ages, in line with usual limits on the number of children they can care for.
Effective infection protection and control
There are important actions that children and young people, their parents and those who work with them can take during the coronavirus outbreak, to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended.
Class or group sizes
We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.
Schools should therefore work through the hierarchy of measures set out above:
- avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
- frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices
- regular cleaning of settings
- minimising contact and mixing
It is still important to reduce contact between people as much as possible, and we can achieve that and reduce transmission risk by ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group and that small group stays away from other people and groups.
Public Health England (PHE) is clear that if early years settings, schools and colleges do this, and crucially if they are also applying regular hand cleaning, hygiene and cleaning measures and handling potential cases of the virus as per the advice, then the risk of transmission will be lowered.
Where settings can keep children and young people in those small groups 2 metres away from each other, they should do so.
For pre-school children in early years settings, the staff to child ratios within Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) continue to apply as set out here, and we recommend using these to group children.
Planning and organising
Consider the following steps:
- plan parents’ drop-off and pick-up protocols that minimise adult to adult contact
- in addition, childcare settings or early years groups in school should:
- consider how to keep small groups of children together throughout the day and to avoid larger groups of children mixing
- consider how play equipment is used ensuring it is appropriately cleaned between groups of children using it, and that multiple groups do not use it simultaneously
- remove unnecessary items from classrooms and other learning environments where there is space to store it elsewhere
- remove soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean (such as those with intricate parts)
- consider how children and young people arrive at the education or childcare setting, and reduce any unnecessary travel on coaches, buses or public transport where possible (guidance will shortly be published on safe travel)
Communicating your plans
Consider the following steps:
- tell children, young people, parents, carers or any visitors, such as suppliers, not to enter the education or childcare setting if they are displaying any symptoms of coronavirus (following the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection)
- tell parents that if their child needs to be accompanied to the education or childcare setting, only one parent should attend
- tell parents and young people their allocated drop off and collection times and the process for doing so, including protocols for minimising adult to adult contact (for example, which entrance to use)
- make clear to parents that they cannot gather at entrance gates or doors, or enter the site (unless they have a pre-arranged appointment, which should be conducted safely)
- also think about engaging parents and children in education resources such as e-bug and PHE schools resources
- ensure parents and young people are aware of recommendations on transport to and from education or childcare setting (including avoiding peak times). Guidance will shortly be published on safe travel
- talk to staff about the plans (for example, safety measures, timetable changes and staggered arrival and departure times), including discussing whether training would be helpful
- ensure that children and young people are in the same small groups at all times each day, and different groups are not mixed during the day, or on subsequent days
- ensure that the same teacher(s) and other staff are assigned to each group and, as far as possible, these stay the same during the day and on subsequent days, recognising for secondary and college settings there will be some subject specialist rotation of staff
- ensure that wherever possible children and young people use the same classroom or area of a setting throughout the day, with a thorough cleaning of the rooms at the end of the day. In schools and colleges, you may want to consider seating students at the same desk each day if they attend on consecutive days
For cleaning and hygiene:
- follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance
- ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. Where a sink is not nearby, provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments
- clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches, bannisters, more regularly than normal
- ensure that all adults and children:
- frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly. Review the guidance on hand cleaning
- clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing
- are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
- use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’)
- ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently
- consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition
- ensure that bins for tissues are emptied throughout the day
- where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation units
- prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation
- get in touch with public sector buying organisation partners (for example ESPO, YPO, NEPO) about proportionate supplies of soap, anti-bacterial gel and cleaning products if needed
- there is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in an educational or childcare setting
- Reduce mixing within education or childcare setting by:
- ensuring that toilets do not become crowded by limiting the number of children or young people who use the toilet facilities at one time
- noting that some children and young people will need additional support to follow these measures (for example, routes round school marked in braille or with other meaningful symbols, and social stories to support them in understanding how to follow rules)
Use outside space:
- for exercise and breaks
- although outdoor equipment should not be used unless the setting is able to ensure that it is appropriately cleaned between groups of children and young people using it, and that multiple groups do not use it simultaneously. Read COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings
Reduce the use of shared resources:
by limiting the amount of shared resources that are taken home and limit exchange of take-home resources between children, young people and staff
Join the Childminding Best Practice Club and get monthly packs of themed activities emailed to you. As well as art projects with templates, each pack includes a planning guide to help you plan around a theme.