Controlling infection in your early years setting
Rigorous infection control measures
You, your staff and your families should be confident that your service has rigorous infection control measures in place such as:
- good basic hygiene practices such as regular hand-washing (practitioners and children)
- supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water
- clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces more often than usual using your standard cleaning products
- waterproof dressing to cover on any existing wounds or lesions
- personal protective equipment (PPE) such as aprons and gloves are used as necessary
- clear procedures are in place for cleaning equipment and wider environment
- immediate cleaning of spillages of blood and other bodily fluids
- clear procedures on safe disposal of waste
- infection control guidance and management procedures in place which are clearly understood and adhered to by staff
- any items that come into contact with mouths such as cups, bottles and straws should not be shared.
Public Health England advises that children and staff should be encouraged to catch sneezes with a tissue, bin the tissue and wash their hands.
You should also remind children to wash their hands:
- after outside breaks
- before meals and snack times
- after using the toilet
- when they arrive at your setting
- at the end of the day before they go home.
If you do not have access to soap and water to hand at the time, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used instead. Look for products with minimum 60% alcohol. It is important that everyone should try not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so a focus on improving general air flow, preferably through fresh air or effective mechanical systems, can help to create a safer environment for staff and children.
It is important to ensure your setting is well ventilated and that a comfortable environment is maintained.
You should identify any poorly ventilated spaces as part of your risk assessment and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas, giving particular consideration when holding events where visitors such as parents are on site, for example for a show or play.
Where it is safe to do so, opening external windows can improve natural ventilation and, in addition, opening internal doors, can also assist with creating a throughput of air. If necessary, external opening doors may also be used (if they are not fire doors and where safe to do so).
Read the full government guidance here.
The Health and Safety Executive also provides guidance on ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The use of CO2 monitors
CO2 monitors are being rolled out to education settings to help identify areas of poor ventilation.
The DfE has published a guide to using CO2 monitors. You can download it from here.
What should I do if a child starts displaying symptoms of Covid-19?
If anyone in your setting develops a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they must be sent home and be advised to follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
They should avoid using public transport and, wherever possible, be collected by a member of their family or household.
If a child is awaiting collection, appropriate PPE should be used if close contact is necessary. Further information on this can be found in use of PPE in education, childcare and children’s social care. Any rooms they use should be cleaned after they have left.
Staff members should not come into work if they have any symptoms.
If anyone in your setting develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should send them home and they should follow public health advice.
The guidance says anyone displaying symptoms must:
• arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19)
• self-isolate for at least 10 days if they test positive.
1. In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, urgent care centre or a hospital except in an emergency.
2. Call parents/legal guardian to collect child and take them home. Advise them that all household members are advised to get a PCR test.
3. While the child is awaiting collection, move them to an isolated room and open a window for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
4. Since it’s unlikely that staff caring for a young child while they are awaiting collection will be able to maintain a 2 metre distance, they should wear suitable PPE
— If 2m distance cannot be maintained a face mask should be worn
— If contact is necessary then gloves, an apron and a face mask should be worn
— If there is a risk of fluids entering the eye (e.g. from coughing, spitting or vomiting) then eye protection should also be worn.
More information on PPE use can be found in the Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) guidance.
5. If the child needs to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.
6. Staff/other children who have had contact with the symptomatic child must wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.
7. When parents/legal guardian pick up the child, advise them to get the child tested and notify you of the results.
8. Once the child has left the premises, thoroughly disinfect/clean all surfaces and touchpoints they came into contact with (including the bathroom if used).
What to do if a child or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
When an individual has a positive test children, staff and other adults should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do.
They should not come into the setting if they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or other reasons requiring them to stay at home due to the risk of them passing on COVID-19 (for example, they are required to quarantine).
The household (including any siblings) should follow PHE’s stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.
Reporting an incident to Ofsted
Ofsted has created a page for providers who need to report a Covid-19 incident at their setting.
Asymptomatic home testing kits (lateral flow tests) are available to private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries and pre-schools in England and are to be used by setting staff twice a week at home.
Read more detail on lateral flow testing in early years settings.
Additional questions and updates
- Do practitioners need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) in childcare settings?
Most staff in education, childcare and children’s social care settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work.
PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases if:
an individual child, young person or other learner becomes ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
a child, young person or learner already has routine intimate care needs that involve the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used.
You can read more detail on PPE here: Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Do practitioners need to wash or change their clothes immediately after leaving the setting?
PHE and the DfE have confirmed that there is no need to clean your clothes immediately after leaving work at a childcare setting – this is only required by healthcare professionals.
Practitioners simply need to follow the guidance here.
- Updated guidance on supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years settings
The wet brushing model is no longer recommended during the COVID-19 recovery phase as it is considered more likely to risk droplet and contact transmission and offers no additional benefit to oral health over dry brushing.
Latest government advice and support
Free infection prevention resources
- Alliance members can complete our FREE EduCare course Infection prevention and control in an early years setting and non-members can access for small cost.
- Alliance members can also read Good Practice in Early Years Infection Control — an online version is available to read for free in the Members Area.