Coronavirus – what you need to know

 

*This page was last updated on 13 January, 2021*

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

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

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


DfE confirms that PVI settings will not be provided with home testing kits

The Department for Education has confirmed that private and voluntary early years providers and childminders will not be given access to home testing kits for asymptomatic cases.

Only maintained nurseries and primary schools will be given access to the home testing kits.

The announcement means that childminders and staff in private, voluntary and independently run nurseries and pre-schools are likely to need to travel to testing sites during working hours to be part of asymptomatic community testing, instead of being able to test at home.

Read the full story


 

Children and families minister says new early years census guidance to be issued to LAs

The government is planning to issue new guidance to local authorities ahead of next week's early years census to ensure that children who are temporarily not attending an early years setting are still included in the data collection, children and families minister Vicky Ford has announced.

The early years census is used by the government to determine how much funding is given to different local authorities.

Speaking during the Westminster Hall debate on the impact of Covid-19 on early years settings, Ms Ford said:

"We currently do intend to go ahead with this year’s census next week. However, I recognise the particular challenge that the sector faces in recording an accurate picture of expected uptake, because of the impact of Covid on attendance and the operation of settings. 

"To support local authorities, we will very shortly – very, very shortly – be issuing Q&As to help them interpret existing published census guidance so that census data reflects expected attendance, and doesn’t exclude what is considered to be a temporary absence or closure. This makes sure that children at open providers are counted when they are temporarily not in attendance and that is important for the providers.

Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch has written to both education secretary Gavin Williamson and Ms Ford asking for urgent clarity on what this means in practice for providers, and more detail on how such an approach compares to simply funding places at pre-Covid levels.

He also called for more financial support to be given to providers who are primarily reliant on private fees.

You can read more about Neil's letter here.

As soon as we have more information about this announcement and what this means in practice for the early years sector, we will provide an update.


Figures show sharp fall in number of children taking up early years places

New Department for Education statistics show that as of Thursday 7 January, the number of children taking up early years places in England was just 37% of normal term-time attendance, and just 52% of what the government would normally expect in the spring term specifically. 

The statistics are available here.

The Early Years Alliance is calling for the government to:

  • reinstate early entitlement funding support for settings who have been forced to close or have seen a fall in the demand for funded places
  • introduce targeted funding for providers reliant on private income who have suffered from falls in parental demand

as part of the #ProtectEarlyYears campaign launched in collaboration with other leading early years organisations.


Ofsted delays assurance inspections until Feb half term

Ofsted has delayed plans to begin 'assurance inspections' at early years settings until after half-term 2021.

The organisation previously said that it would start visiting group-based providers, while childminders would not be subject to visits unless there were concerns about their provision.

However, they have now post-poned these plans until after the half-term break in February 2021 in light of a "new emphasis" from the government to "act as if you have the virus". 

Read more


Goverment preparing to roll out mass asymptomatic testing across early years

The government has confirmed it is currently preparing to roll out mass asymptomatic testing in early years settings in England.

In a letter to Alliance chief executive Neil Leitch, education secretary Gavin Williamson stated that the Department for Education is "working with DHSC [the Department for Health and Social Care] on asymptomatic testing for all early years and childcare staff".

In addition, children and families minister Vicky Ford announced on Twitter that, in light of the news that community asymptomatic testing is to be expanded across all local authorities in England, she has asked that those working with children, including those working in early years, are made a priority.

As soon as we have more information on the timings and practicalities of this roll-out, we will be sure to update the sector.


Getting early years staff onto priority vaccination lists

There is a growing pressure on the government to ensure that the early years workforce is included as one of the priority groups for the Covid-19 vaccination. Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, health secretary Matt Hancock said that: "The order after the first priority list is not yet decided but teachers, nursery staff, police and other key workers do have a good case".

The Alliance is clear that any prioritisation must include all those working in the early years, including childminders.


Pushing for funding and financial support

We know that this is an absolute critical issue and one on which we are in urgent discussions with the Department for Education.

As it stands, we are aware that different local authorities are taking different approaches to the funding of early entitlement places currently not being taken up.

As part of the #ProtectEarlyYears campaign, we are calling on the government to: 

  • reinstate early entitlement funding support for settings who have been forced to close or have seen a fall in the demand for funded places 
  • introduce targeted funding for providers reliant on private income who have suffered from falls in parental demand.

Urgent action on early years funding formed a central focus of our meeting with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson last week, and we understand that discussions within government are currently taking place on this.

Shadow Chancellor Annelise Dodds has also now called for greater financial support for the early years sector, stating: "Early years providers are also teetering on the brink, with this new lockdown likely to further impact attendance ... It is a short-term financial consideration to not be supporting childcare providers right now."

Funding and financial support will also be a key focus of another update parliamentary debate, entitled 'Effect of the covid-19 outbreak on early years settings', taking place at 2.30pm on Tuesday 12 January (you can watch it live here).


Early years providers to remain open during third national lockdown

Registered early years providers will be allowed to remain open during the upcoming national lockdown in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed during an address to the nation on 4 January.

Guidance released by the government states:

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

  • Early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open
  • Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities (including wraparound care)
  • Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults
  • Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble
  • Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home.

The Alliance will continue to chase for clarity on baby and toddler groups.

The Department for Education has provided the Alliance with a response to queries on why early years providers have been asked to remain open during the national lockdown in England, while schools have been instructed to close. 

Read the department's rationale for keeping early years settings open.

On 4 Jan the Alliance met the DfE and stressed the need for greater financial support for the early years, priority access to vaccinations and asymptomatic testing in early years settings.


Reporting an incident to Ofsted

From 28 January, reporting a serious childcare incident, including confirmed Covid-19 cases, to Ofsted can only be done via online form (not phone or email). 


Older stories and updates

Self-isolation period reduced from 14 days to ten days

From 14 December, the requirement to self-isolate will reduce from 14 days to ten days, the Chief Medical Officers for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have announced.

They made the following statement:

“After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

“People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic. We urge everyone to self-isolate when appropriate, it will save lives.”

This change will come into force in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from Monday 14 December. It already applies in Wales.

Self-isolation periods will begin on the day after exposure to Covid-19, a test or the start of symptoms. People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic. The NHS Test and Trace service will tell people to self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from 14 December. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

Ofsted announces phased return of early years inspections

Ofsted will carry out a programme of assurance inspections from the start of the spring term 2021. These inspections will confirm whether or not a provider is meeting the early years foundation stage (EYFS) requirements.

The department said assurance inspections "will be proportionate and risk-based".

Providers will be prioritised based on the length of time since their last inspection, and any other relevant information. Routine graded inspections will then resume in the summer term of 2021.

Over the coming months, Ofsted will discuss the approach to routine inspection in 2021 with sector representatives and test it through a series of pilot visits, where necessary.

Read the full Ofsted statement here

Expansion of support bubbles

The government has confirmed that from 2 December, people can form a support bubble with another household, if at least one has: 

a child under 1 (regardless of how many other adults are in the household); or 

a child under 5 with a disability that requires continuous care (regardless of how many other adults are in the household)

 

If someone in your previous support bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus up to 48 hours after members of the bubble last met, all members of the bubble must self-isolate for 14 days. You must not form a new bubble until you have completed your self-isolation.

This is in addition to the previous support bubble criteria.

If you decide to change your support bubble, you should treat your previous bubble as a separate household for 14 days before forming a new bubble. This means following the rules on meeting people from other households in the tier you are in.

Find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area

This is in addition to the previous support bubble criteria.

You may change your support bubble provided that:

your household, or the one you intend to form a new support bubble with, meets at least one of the criteria under ‘Who can make a support bubble’ the other household is not already part of a support bubble which they intend to remain a part of.

Self-employment Support Scheme to cover 80% of profits 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased with the third grant covering November to January 2021 calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension provides support to the self-employed in the form of two further grants, each available for 3 month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

The level of support offered through the scheme was due to drop to 40% of profits in November but now that a second national lockdown has begun, the scheme will now cover up to 80% of average trading profits.

The government has also confirmed that the claims window will be bought forward from 14 December to 30 November.

Read more details here.

Furlough scheme extended to March 2021

The government has confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended to the end of March 2021, with  employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500.

Early years providers will be able to access the scheme in the way as before (i.e. "to cover up to the proportion of its paybill which could be considered to have been paid for from that provider’s private income"). 

EYFS disapplications extended for Nov-Dec period

Temporary changes - or disapplications - to the EYFS that came into force on 24 April 2020 - are being extended for the November-December lockdown period.

Disapplications were introduced by the government 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" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Providers were previously required to reinstate the EYFS for learning and development in full from 26 September 2020, however the disapplications are now being extended for the second lockdown period until 2 December.

Visit our EYFS Changes in the Coronavirus Crisis page

England to enter new four-week lockdown

The government has confirmed plans to introduce a new four-week long lockdown in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that as of Thursday 5 November, all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will close until 2 December.

However, the Prime Minister confirmed that early years providers in England, alongside schools, colleges and universities, will be able to remain open.

The government also announced plans to extend the furlough system through November until December.

Please see our FAQs page for further details.

Covid cases doubling in early years settings

The number of Covid-19 cases reported in early years settings has been doubling since the first week of September, according to new statistics from Ofsted.

Obtained by the Labour Party, the statistics show an increase from 14 cases in early years settings at the end of August 2020 to 181 on 28 September.

In response, the Alliance has called for home testing kits to be made available to nurseries and childminders, as well as maintained nursery schools.

Read the full story

Changes to Job Support Scheme and grants for Tier 2 businesses announced

The government is to introduce additional support for businesses hit by Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions and made changes to the Job Support Scheme, due to replace the current furlough scheme in November.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 22 October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced three new measures to support businesses still affected by the coronavirus outbreak:

A more generous version of the Job Support Scheme. Employees need to work 20% of their usual hours to qualify for the scheme and employers will need to pay 20% of hours worked and 5% of hours not worked. The scheme is open to all businesses that can show the impact of Covid-19 on their revenues, regardless of local Tier.

A new grant scheme for businesses affected by Tier 2 restrictions, even if they have not been forced to close, worth up to £2,100 a month for businesses facing lower demand or up to £3,000 for businesses forced to close. Local authorities will be given instructions on how to distribute these funds, which can be backdated to August 2020, although they are primarily aimed at the hospitality and leisure sector.

 

The Department for Education has confirmed to the Alliance that it is awaiting further guidance from the Treasury on how this new scheme will apply to early years providers in receipt of early entitlement funding.

  • Grants paid through the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will cover up to 40% of previous earnings, increasing from a maximum of £1,875 to £3,750. There will be two further grant payments between November 2020 and April 2021. Grants will also be available for those who are ordered to temporarily close or are facing significantly reduced demand in all Tier areas.
PM announces three-tier lockdown system

The government has confirmed plans to introduce a new three-tier system of local Covid alert levels across England.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 12 October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as of Wednesday 14 October, there will be three alert levels for areas in England: medium, high and very high.

The 'medium' alert level will cover most of the country and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six.  The 'high' alert level will prevent all indoor mixing between households or bubbles, while the rule of six will continue outdoors. Most areas currently in local lockdown will be automatically placed on the 'high' alert level. The 'very high' alert level will be applied in areas where transmission rates are rising most rapidly. This will involve a 'baseline' of measures, including the closure of pubs and bars, and the banning of household mixing.

 

We are currently seeking clarity on how the new alert system will impact children and family services such as baby and toddler groups. 

As soon as we have more information, we will update the sector.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that it is the government's intention for education settings to remain open.

Government expands Job Support Scheme

The Chancellor has announced an expansion to the Job Support Scheme that will pay up to two-thirds of staff wages for businesses forced to close by coronavirus restrictions.

The scheme will cover up to £2,100 a month in wages, with employers expected to cover national insurance and pension contributions.

This is an expanded version of the Job Support Scheme, which is open to all businesses – not just those forced to close by coronavirus restrictions.

The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and will remain open for six months, although it will be reviewed in January 2021.

Read more

EYFS disapplications come to an end - Sept 25

Temporary changes - or disapplications - to the EYFS that came into force on 24 April 2020 have now come to an end.

Disapplications were introduced by the government 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" during the coronavirus pandemic.

All of the learning and development and assessment disapplications were removed as of 25 September 2020, meaning providers are required to reinstate the EYFS for these areas in full from 26 September 2020.

For safeguarding and welfare disapplications (including requirements on Paediatric First Aid training), there will be a two-month transitional period between 26 September 2020 to 25 November 2020. This means that providers will need to meet these requirements in full by the 26 November 2020.

Between 26 September 2020 and 31 August 2021, all EYFS disapplications, other than the EYFS Profile disapplication, will be reapplied if the ability of providers to comply with the EYFS is impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions or requirements which have been imposed by government, such a local or national lockdown. 

Job Support Scheme to replace Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On 24 September Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new scheme to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme when it closes at the end of October. 

The new Job Support Scheme is intended to help protect 'viable jobs' in businesses facing lower demand over the winter months as a result of the pandemic, by topping up the wages of employees working less hours than normal.

Under the scheme, eligible employees will be paid for two-thirds of any hours that they are not able to work, split evenly between the government and their employer. This means that employees will receive at least 77% of their normal pay under the scheme.

The scheme launches on 1 November and will run for six months.

To be eligible, employees must be earning at working at least 33% of their normal hours, and the level of government grant available will be capped at £697.92 a month.

All small and medium-sized enterprises will be eligible for the scheme, while large businesses will be required to demonstrate that their business has been adversely affected by Covid-19.

You can read more about the Job Support Scheme here.

DfE updates 'Actions for early years and childcare providers' guidance — 22 September

The DfE has published updated guidance for all early years providers in England during the coronavirus outbreak.

Updates cover the following:

the use and disposal of face coverings supervised toothbrushing programmes process for local lockdowns

 

There is also revised wording about: employer health and safety and equalities duties; staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable; children who are shielding or self-isolating, and; safeguarding.

See the guidance in full here

  • music, dance and drama
  • maximising use of sites and ventilation within settings
  • reopening of buildings
  • journeys, such as pickups and drop offs
  • attending more than one setting
  • a child with symptoms attending a setting
  • pregnant women
  • visitors to settings; including new admissions and settling in
  • use of outdoor private and public spaces
  • informal childcare
  • supporting children’s and staff wellbeing
  • new SEND legislation
  • EYFS disapplications ending on 25 September 2020
  • emergency first aid
  • the Job Retention Bonus scheme
  • managing coronavirus cases
  • funding.
Children can be cared for by individuals outside of immediate household

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said children under the age of 14 can be looked after by someone outside of their household – even in areas with additional local restrictions.

The health secretary announced the policy change, confirming that informal childcare may continue despite the ban on mixing households in parts of the North West, North East, Bolton and Leicester.

Informal childcare arranged between households must be part of a “consistent” relationship and “one-off” playdates are not permitted.

Matt Hancock said: “It is essential that our children or dependents are well looked after and loved."

New contact advice for confirmed cases of Covid at a setting

The Department for Education has published new guidance on whom registered early years providers should contact if there is a confirmed positive case of Covid-19 at their setting.

Previously, the Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak guidance stated that providers should contact their local health protection team directly if they became aware that someone who had attended their provision had tested positive for coronavirus.

However, this guidance has now been updated to state that: "You should contact the DfE Helpline on 0800 046 8687 and select option 1 for advice on the action to take in response to a positive case. You will be put through to a team of advisors who will inform you what action is needed based on the latest public health advice. If, following triage, further expert advice is required the adviser will escalate your call to the local health protection team."

Read the guidance in full here.

Childcare, youth and activity groups exempt from 'rule of 6'

The government has confirmed people will still be able to meet in groups of more than six for registered childcare (including wraparound care), youth groups and activities, and other children's groups when new rules on socialising come into force on Monday 14 September. 

The government has confirmed plans to legally limit most social gatherings to no more than six, down from 30.

However, the new rules include a number of exemptions, and these include childcare providers, youth activities and children's groups.

The relevant guidance is available here (see sections 2.10 and 2.15)

Temporary EYFS disapplications to be removed by 25 September

Temporary changes to the EYFS came into force on 24 April 2020 - these are referred to as 'disapplications' and were introduced by the government 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" during the coronavirus pandemic.

All of the learning and development and assessment disapplications will be removed as of 25 September 2020, meaning that providers will be required to reinstate the EYFS for these areas in full from 26 September 2020.

For safeguarding and welfare disapplications (including requirements on Paediatric First Aid training), there will be a two-month transitional period between 26 September 2020 to 25 November 2020. This means that providers will need to meet these requirements in full by the 26 November 2020.

Between 26 September 2020 and 31 August 2021, all EYFS disapplications, other than the EYFS Profile disapplication, will be reapplied if the ability of providers to comply with the EYFS is impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions or requirements which have been imposed by government, such a local or national lockdown. 

Read the updated guidance

Summary of key steps to identify and contain outbreaks 

The government has published a new concise summary of the steps early years providers should take to identify and manage possible Covid-19 outbreaks.

Download the PDF

Updated guidance on local lockdowns (Aug 28)

The Department for Education has published new guidance on local lockdowns for early years providers, schools and colleges.

The guidance states that "in local areas where restrictions have been implemented for certain sectors ... education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all".

It outlines four levels, or 'Tiers', of local lockdown restrictions, ranging from Tier 1 (the most relaxed) to Tier 4 (the most restrictive). The tier of local lockdown enforced in a particular area will depend on the level of local outbreak.

Under Tiers 1 - 3, early years providers will be able to remain open to all children. Only under Tier 4 would settings be asked to close to all but key worker children and vulnerable children.

Essentially, this means that when an area is placed into local lockdown,  it is unlikely that early years providers will be asked to (partially) close, and this will only happen in limited circumstances, if deemed absolutely necessary.

The full guidance is available here.

Updated guidance for out-of-school providers published

The Department for Education has published new guidance for out-of-school providers operating in the autumn term.

Updates made to the 'Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings' guidance state that when schools reopen in September, out-of-school providers should "keep children in small groups of no more than 15 children with the same children each time wherever possible ... and at least one staff member, depending on the type of provision or size of the group".

The guidance also states that: "Where it is possible to do so, providers should also try to work with parents, the schools or early years settings which children attend to ensure, as far as possible, children can be kept in a group with other children from the same bubble they are in during the school day."

Where it is not possible to group children in the same bubbles as they are in during the school day, the DfE says that providers should "seek to keep children in consistent groups, as far as possible, and frequently review these groups to minimise the amount of ‘mixing’ ".

The guidance goes on to state: "For example, when new children register for your provision, you may wish to firstly determine whether they attend the same school or early years setting as other children in your setting and group them together if appropriate."

The full guidance is available here

Ofsted releases guidance on interim visits 

Ofsted has published some new operational guidance regarding interim visits from inspectors to registered early years providers from 1 September 2020. Interim visits are not inspections and will not result in an inspection grade, however inspectors can use regulatory or enforcement actions, if appropriate.

Read 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.

Read the guidance here

Self-isolation rule change

Anyone displaying symptoms of coronavirus (a temperature, new continuous cough and/or a loss of taste or smell) must now self-isolate for 10 days, rather than seven.

The change brings the UK in line with World Health Organization guidance, and reflects scientific evidence which suggests that people with coronavirus have "a low but real possibility of infectiousness" seven to nine days after falling ill.

Those living with someone displaying coronavirus symptoms are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

More information is available on the NHS website.

Update on early entitlement funding

The Department for Education has shared its plans for early entitlement funding for the autumn term 2020 and beyond.

The guidance states that local authority funding for the 2020 autumn term will be based on the January 2020 census data. The DfE says that this is in recognition of the fact the number of children attending settings may not have returned to normal levels by January 2021.

From the autumn term local authorities will be expected to continue funding providers who are open "at the levels they would have expected to see in the 2020 autumn term had there been no coronavirus outbreak".

They should also continue to fund providers which have been advised to close, or "left with no option but to close, due to public health reasons". Local authorities are not expected to fund providers which are closed "without public health reason".

The DfE intends to fund settings "as if autumn term 2020 were happening normally". To do this, local authorities should use the numbers of children in places in the previous autumn term to inform funding levels this autumn.

In "exceptional circumstances" local authorities will be able to "redirect early years dedicated schools grant from providers that are closed" to ensure that there is childcare available for key worker families and vulnerable children.

The DfE guidance also encourages local authorities to consider increasing the frequency of payments to providers from termly to monthly to allow for adjustments as providers reopen.

The government expects to return to the normal process for early years funding in January 2021.

The full guidance can be found here

'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)'.

Read the guidance in full here

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

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 changed as of 1 July. 

Read the updated government guidance


FAQs

— FAQs: We have produced a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide on various aspects of operating during lockdown and beyond.

— For any questions 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.

 


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 a portion 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 some 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

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 however as part of a phased return to routine inspection from autumn 2020, Ofsted is carrying out interim visits. These visits are not inspections and will not result in an inspection grade, however inspectors can use regulatory or enforcement actions, if appropriate.

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

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)

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

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.