Coronavirus – what you need to know

 

*This page was last updated on 2 July, 2020*

(Includes guidance for those working in nurseries and the early years plus links to government guidance and resources. Updated daily.)

For more detailed information about coronavirus and the early years sector please visit our Covid-19 section.

We are constantly updating our Re-opening Q&A page to make sure you have all the latest updates on reopening. The answers are based on the latest government guidance as soon as we get it. Read our reopening Q and A.


NEW! 'Bubbles' no longer required from 20 July

From 20 July, early years settings will no longer be required to keep children in small, consistent groups within settings. Mixing between the groups should still be minimised however and other protective measures will remain in place.

The government said this was possible because of 'significant progress in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

The change is part of updated guidance released on 2 July.

The updates include:

  • Effective from 20 July, removing the requirement to keep children in small consistent groups within settings (sections 2.1 and 3.3)
  • New content on risk assessment (3.1), supporting staff with increased risk factors (3.2) and system of controls (3.3)
  • Updated content on attendance for those shielding, with changes to the advice effective from 1 August and removal of content on vulnerable children since settings are open for all children (section 4)
  • Updated content on wraparound care (5.3)
  • Updated Early Years Foundation Stage reforms (7.6) and Reception Baseline Assessment (7.7).

Read the guidance in full here


NEW! Guidance on protective measures for holiday clubs plus and local lockdowns

On 1 July, the government released new guidance on what schools, nurseries, childminders, early years and other educational settings need to do if there's a local lockdown during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Read it in full: Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings

They have also released guidance on protective measures for providers of holiday and after-school clubs and other activities to children during the outbreak.

Read it in full: Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak


Social distancing rules relaxed from 4 July

Wraparound care for school-aged children and formal childcare will be able to reopen over the summer, the Prime Minister has announced. Community centres, playgrounds, outdoor gyms, adventure parks, libraries, leisure centres and social clubs would be able to reopen on 4 July.

However, indoor play areas, including soft play centres, and swimming pools will need to remain closed.

Read the full story


Covid alert level moves down from Level 4 to Level 3

The Joint Biosecurity Centre has recommended that the COVID-19 alert level should move from Level 4 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially) to Level 3 (A COVID-19 epidemic is in general circulation).

The Chief Medical Officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have reviewed the evidence and agree with this recommendation to move to Level 3 across the UK.

There has been a steady decrease in cases in all four nations, and this continues.

It does not mean that the pandemic is over as the virus is still in general circulation, and localised outbreaks are likely to occur.

Read the full story here.


Chancellor announces changes to Job Retention Scheme

On June 12 Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a series of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which ends on 31 October.The scheme will remain the same in June, but will begin to change as of July. 

Read the updated government guidance

DfE early years reopening toolkit published

The Department for Education has published its toolkit for early years providers who are reopening.

The Planning guide for early years and childcare settings guidance provides government advice on issues including:

  • premises preparation
  • space management
  • protocols for suspected cases of coronavirus
  • communication with staff, parents and carers
  • reducing contact between 'groups' of children and staff
  • identifying safeguarding, SEND, and child wellbeing and welfare requirements
  • planning for learning and adapting the EYFS

The full guidance is available here


For more answers visit our Business pageFAQs

— For any questions you have on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Furlough Leave and Related Employment Matters please see our FAQs for providers on our Business Advice page.

— We also have an dedicated FAQ page on the Early Entitlement Funding and the Job Retention Scheme here.

— Reopening FAQs: We have produced a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide on various aspects of reopening.

 


NEW! FREE RESOURCE PACKS

The Welcome Back bundle

We have produced a free bundle of packs to support you, your children and your families as your provision re-opens, whenever you choose for that to be.

Pack 1   Pack 2   

 

Pack 1: Supporting practitioners, children and families to return to your provision

Pack 1This first pack in the bundle supports you to keep children at the heart of your provision during the Covid-19 (coronavirus) period and beyond.

Relevant to all early years workers including nursery or pre-school managers, childminders or volunteers, this resource will:

— consider the implications for a return to ‘normal’ as children, families and practitioners prepare to return to the setting
— introduce practical ideas and resources to ease the transition from lockdown
— prepare you to meet the needs of those who have suffered loss or had difficult experiences during lockdown.

This pack is FREE to Alliance members and available in the Members' Area.

Non-members can buy it from the Alliance online shop.

 

Watch it now! Webinar: Supporting practitioners, children and families to return to your provision

Pack 2: Preparing your premises and the early years environment

Pack 2This resource pack supports you by offering practical actions required to prepare effectively for re-opening. 

Nursery and pre-school managers, practitioners, childminders and volunteers will:

— identify the steps necessary to prepare successfully for the opening of their service and identify some changes to practice that may be required
— consider the health and safety implications for buildings where their service is situated that have been closed
— recognise the importance of creating a welcoming environment for children and their families who have been away for some time.

This pack is FREE to Alliance members and available in the Members' Area.

Non-members can buy it from the Alliance online shop.

Pack 3: Meet the needs of children from day one

Pack 3This pack covers:

— settling-in and supporting transitions (building on information from More About Me)
— a focus on observation and assessment
— to establish ‘where children are now’ in their learning and development
— recognising specific issues i.e. behaviour management
— safeguarding, SEND and the implications for children who have had negative experiences of being at home.

Placing the child at the centre of the process, practitioners are encouraged to consider how to create an environment — physically, emotionally and pedagogically — that ensures, as far as possible, the health and safety of children and supports their learning and development.

This pack is FREE to Alliance members and available in the Members' Area.

Non-members can buy it from the Alliance online shop.

 

Watch it now! Webinar: Meet the needs of children from day one

 


NEW! FREE 'WELCOME BACK' PACKS FOR CHILDMINDERS

The Welcome Back bundle

The three packs that make up the ‘Welcome Back’ bundle have been developed to support childminders as you consider the implications for welcoming children back to your home.

The emphasis throughout is to keep children at the centre of the process. Each pack addresses the challenges you may face as you provide a welcoming, safe and stimulating environment in your home. You will be encouraged to reflect on the government’s guidance and consider the options for your provision.

The templates included are easily adaptable to suit the unique circumstances faced by you and the families you support.

Supporting mental health and wellbeing  Creating a safe and enabling environment  Meeting the needs of every child from day one

 

Pack 1: Supporting mental health and wellbeing

Supporting mental health coverThe presentation focuses on your own mental health and wellbeing as well as the children in your care.

It covers:

— the emotional implications for you, the children and the families you support as we all prepare to return to the ‘new normal’

— practical ideas and resources to support you to ease into the transition from lockdown

— preparation to meet the needs of those who have suffered loss or had difficult experiences during lockdown.

The pack and adaptable templates are free to Alliance members and available in the Members' Area.

Non-members can purchase all three packs in the Welcome Back Childminder bundle for just £15 in our online shop.

Pack 2: Creating a safe and enabling environment

Creating a safe and enabling environmentThis presentation supports you to consider some of the practical actions that are required prior to re-opening.

There is one template included that may help you to complete a risk assessment as required by the government. There is also a checklist that will help you to focus on some of the additional things that the government has identified.

The pack and adaptable templates are free to Alliance members and available in the Members' Area.

Non-members can purchase all three packs in the Welcome Back Childminder bundle for just £15 in our online shop.

Pack 3: Meeting the needs of every child from day one 

Meeting the needs of every child coverThis pack builds on Pack One, as it relies on the information you gather prior to re-opening. There is also emphasis on using the EYFS principles to inform practice.

The presentation focuses on how you can support the personal, social and emotional development of every child from the moment they return to you.

There are four templates included in this pack.

The pack and adaptable templates are free to Alliance members and available in the Members' Area.

Non-members can purchase all three packs in the Welcome Back Childminder bundle for just £15 in our online shop.

 


Coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education has a helpline for early years providers, schools and colleges – as well as parents, carers and young people – who have questions about coronavirus.

If you have specific questions about the virus call:

0800 046 8687

Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

 


Business support

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows all businesses to apply for grants to cover 80% of salaries of staff who are not working but kept on payroll during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care

Use of free early education entitlements funding during the coronavirus outbreak

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

The government has offered self-employed workers similar protections as employed staff during the outbreak.

Self-employed people facing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will be able to claim 80% of their monthly earnings up to £2,500 a month. Monthly earnings will be calculated using an average of profits over the last three financial years. The scheme will only be available to people who are already self employed and have a self-assessment tax return for 2019.

Read more about the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

Self-employed Income Scheme: How HMRC works out your total income and trading profits


Operational support

EYFS

27 April - Updated guidance to the EYFS.

To support early years providers who remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Government has temporarily disapplied and modified certain elements of the EYFS statutory framework.

The aim of the guidance is to allow providers greater flexibility to respond to changes in workforce availability and potential fluctuations in demand, while still providing care that is high quality and safe.

Read the guidance: Early Years Foundation Stage: Coronavirus disapplications

Ofsted

Notification: Ofsted wants providers to let them know if they are opening or temporarily closing.

Ofsted has been working with the DfE and local authorities to find out which early years providers, including childminders, are currently open or temporarily closed, to see there is sufficient and accessible childcare in place to support vulnerable children. Ofsted may contact providers to ask you about your setting and plans for the future. Please check that this email comes from an @ofsted.gov.uk address before responding as soon as you can.

If your operating circumstances do change (you open or close), notify Ofsted by sending an email to enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk with ‘Change in operating hours’ in the subject field. In the body of the email, please confirm the unique reference number for each setting and the details of the change.

You can find your URN on your registration, your inspection report and on your Ofsted reports page.

Ratios: EYFS section 3:30 allows for child:adult ratios to be relaxed in exceptional circumstances, where the quality of care and safety of children is maintained. Ofsted has confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak is an exceptional circumstance and that there is no need to notify them if you need to relax ratios at this time.

Inspections: Routine Ofsted inspections have been suspended for the time being. 

Fees: Ofsted has said that invoices for annual fees issued from 3 April will now have a due date of 30 September 2020, so that providers can delay payment during this time. Providers usual annual fee date will not change going forward.

Parents

The government has also published guidance for parents on the issue of parent fees during closures: "We are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents".

The full government parent guidance is available here.

Key links for providers

Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings

Planning guide for early years and childcare settings

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020

COVID-19: Cleaning of non-healthcare settings

Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Details on phased wider openings of schools, colleges and nurseries

Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

Early Years Foundation Stage: Coronavirus disapplications

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus (Covid-19): early years and childcare closures

Guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing

Guidance on maintaining educational provision

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

COVID 19 - Guidance for Educational Setttings (DfE)


What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a common type of virus. They typically cause fever and a cough, which may progress to more severe pneumonia, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties in some people, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild and most of those who have died have had pre-existing health conditions.

Because little is known about this new strain of the virus, it is not clear how it is spread, however, similar viruses tend to be spread by coughs and sneezes – so the way the infection gains entry to the body is the same as the way it exits and spreads to others.

It is also possible that the virus may be spread by touching a surface or object that has been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the virus – such as by touching a doorknob or shaking hands with someone and then touching your face.

There is currently no specific cure for the new coronavirus so treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS advises that symptoms of the coronavirus usually include:

  • feeling tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • a high temperature
  • a persistent cough
  • a loss or changed sense of smell or taste (also called anosmia) 

Key health information links

You may wish to signpost staff and parents to credible sources of further information about coronavirus.

These sites will have all the official information you will need and should ideally be the only source of information you refer to:

COVID 19: Guidance for educational settings (DfE and Public Health England)

COVID 19 - Common Questions - Advice for You and Your Family (NHS)

Coronarvirus: latest information and advice (Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England)

Coronavirus (2019-cCoV) (NHS)

Coronavirus FAQs (NHS)

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) - what you need to know (Public Health England)

 


For more detailed information about coronavirus and the early years sector please visit our Covid-19 section.