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DfE releases guidance on social distancing in childcare settings

By Rachel Lawler

The Department for Education has published new guidance for childcare settings that are remaining open to support vulnerable children and the children of critical workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

You can read the full guidance here: Implementing Social Distancing in Education and Childcare Settings

The new guidance tells providers to:

  • make sure anyone – including both staff and children – who is feeling ill stays at home
  • ensure all staff and children wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently, and are encouraged not to touch their face, while using a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and using bins for tissue waste
  • if children or young people have trouble washing their hands, ensure help is available
  • inform parents and communities about the measures that you are taking and get their help to implement them
  • increase cleaning of surfaces in classrooms, including desks and handles, and within toilet blocks and changing rooms, adhering to guidance on cleaning of non-healthcare settings
  • for children and young people with an EHC plan, work with the local authority as well as with parents to decide how best to continue supporting these children and young people to stay healthy.

The guidance should be read in conjunction with guidance for social distancing and may be updated in line with the changing situation.

Providers are also instructed to keep group sizes to a minimum and try to reduce families' use of public transport on their route to and from the setting.

Parents should be discouraged from gathering in gateways and breaktimes should be staggered if possible to avoid large groups of children congregating.

Parents should also be encouraged to model social distancing so that children learn good practice.

On Tuesday (24 March) the Department also released new guidance on the early years and childcare closures which can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): early years and childcare closures

Key links

Implementing Social Distancing in Education and Childcare Settings

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

Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on vulnerable children and young people