Today, the Prime Minister set out the next phase of the Government’s response to COVID-19, including where some restrictions can be lifted. The decision to ease restrictions is made on the balance of risk to public health and educational considerations.
The Department for Education (DfE) have published the 13th iteration of ‘actions for early years and childcare providers during the COVID-19 outbreak’ guidance which can be accessed here.
In the guidance update, DfE have withdrawn ‘education and childcare settings: national lockdown from 5 January 2021′ and transferred relevant sections into the updated guidance. Please note that DfE will be updating guidance for parents and carers shortly.
Main changes to the guidance for early years:
- Face coverings – DfE have clarified the guidance on wearing of face coverings where social distancing between staff in communal areas is not possible.
- Childminders for school-aged children – Childminders can continue to look after all early years children. Until 8 March, childminders should continue to only look after those school-age children (from reception onwards) who are vulnerable or children of critical workers. From 8 March, childminders will be able to look after vulnerable children as normal, and all other children where parents are using the provision to support them to work, seek work, undertake education or training, or attend a medical appointment or address a medical need.
- Testing – DfE have added a section on asymptomatic testing to the guidance confirming that they are now expanding home testing kits to staff in all private, voluntary and independent nurseries, who should start to receive deliveries of Lateral Flow Device (LFD) home testing kits to offer to all their staff for twice weekly testing from next month. This will help to identify positive cases more quickly and break the chains of transmissions. Childminders can continue to access community testing, and the Department continues to work with colleagues across Government to review the testing approach available for childminders. Mass testing for secondary pupils as all schools and colleges fully reopen from 8 March
The Secretary of State for Education has published a letter of thanks to the early years sector for their hard work during this challenging time.
DfE continue to provide the sector with guidance and support during the period of national lockdown. For information, links to the published guidance are provided below:
- Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the COVID-19 outbreak
The Foundation Years COVID-19 resources hub will continue to be updated to include the latest information and guidance, in addition to hosting a variety of resources to support early years settings during the COVID-19 outbreak.