Operating during the coronavirus lockdown and beyond

Rainbow chalks

We have produced the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide below to help providers during the pandemic. 

This FAQ page will be regularly updated as we get more information and clarification from the DfE.

The below information is accurate as of 19 July 2021 and is primarily based on:

A printer-friendly version of the FAQ is available for download here.


Who is able to operate?

Early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) and wraparound settings can offer provision to all children.

As of Step 4, parent and child groups can operate as normal without restrictions on attendance.

The DfE has provided further information on Step 4 changes for early years settings here.

Are we allowed to charge for parents who choose not to or are unable to take up their childcare place? 

Department for Education guidance states that “The general principle is that providers should not charge parents or carers for services that cannot be provided. If there is a barrier to accessing childcare, based on government guidance or the law, the provider should not charge the parents or carers for this period. For example, since 28 September people in England have been required by law to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Accordingly, if a child is self-isolating having been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, the provider should not charge the parent or carer for this period.” 

However, the CMA has advised the Alliance that: “The CMA is unlikely to object to the parties seeking to reach an arrangement that is mutually acceptable in the circumstances, provided that consumers are not left in a worse position where they have sought to find a resolution in this way.” 

Bubbles and attendance

Do we need to keep children in “small groups” or "bubbles"?

No, as of Step 4, children will no longer need to be in consistent groups, though keeping groups apart may have to be reintroduced in instances of local outbreaks. 

Are children allowed to attend more than one setting?

Yes, from Step 4 the number of settings a child attend does not need to be minimised.

Can children who have underlying health conditions or who live with someone who is vulnerable attend the setting?

DfE guidance states that all children who are clinically extremely vulnerable should attend their setting "unless they are one of the very small number of children under paediatric or other specialist care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend".

A child attending the provision has a cough but their GP / 111 / 119 has told their parents that they are fine to attend the setting. Should I / we allow them to attend?

It depends who has given the medical advice. The Department for Education has told the Alliance that: “A GP’s confirmation regarding whether a child has COVID-19 would be valid evidence for deciding on whether a child should attend a setting, however, a telephone helpline would not be able to provide evidence that someone does not have COVID-19.”

The guidance also states that: “In the event that a parent or carer insists on a child attending the setting, the setting can take the decision to refuse the child if in their reasonable judgement it is necessary to protect their children and staff from possible infection with coronavirus (COVID-19). Any such decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and the current public health advice.”


Are members of staff who have underlying health conditions able to work?

DfE guidance states that: “Staff in settings who are CEV should currently attend their place of work if they cannot work from home. DHSC will publish updated guidance before Step 4."

NB: More detailed guidance on who is considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ versus ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ is available here.

Are pregnant staff able to work in settings?

Yes, pregnant staff are classed as clinically vulnerable and can continue to attend early years settings, though while in settings they should follow the sector-specific measures in the Actions for Early Years guidance to minimise the risks of transmission.

In some cases, pregnant women may also have other health conditions that mean they are considered clinically extremely vulnerable, where the guidance on shielding and protecting clinically extremely vulnerable persons will apply.  

Pregnant staff and their employers should follow the advice in the Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for pregnant employees. Further advice for pregnant staff is available at guidance and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) and pregnancy from the Royal College of Gynaecologists.

Can staff who live with someone who is vulnerable attend the setting?

Yes. DfE guidance previously stated that: “People who live with those who are clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable can attend the workplace.”  

Are we still allowed to use agency staff?

Yes. Previously the DfE guidance stated that: “Supply staff and other temporary workers can move between settings” and there are no limitations on this in the latest version of the guidance.

What happens if a staff member has to self-isolate after returning from abroad?

DfE guidance states: “All children and staff travelling to England must adhere to travel legislation, details of which are set out in red, amber and green list rules for entering England."

Are staff allowed to work two jobs?

Current DfE guidance contains no restrictions on the number of settings early years staff are able to work in.

Are early years students still allowed to attend settings for the purposes of student placements? 

Current DfE guidance contains no restrictions on early years placements. 

What do early years practitioners who are eligible for the £500 Test and Trace payment and have to self-isolate due to a close contact with a young child attending the setting need to do to apply for the payment?

Staff identified as close contacts of a positive case will require an NHS Test and Trace Account ID number (CTAS number) to be able to claim a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment. Parents and carers of self-isolating children should be provided with a letter to support their application for payment, but will not require an NHS Test and Trace Account ID number (CTAS number).

The Department for Health and Social Care has launched the self-isolation service hub (020 3743 6715). The phone line is open 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm, allowing a school to provide contact details of any staff who have been asked to self-isolate and are likely to be eligible for the Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment.

In order for any of your staff who may be eligible for a payment from the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme to be able to claim, you must follow these steps.

  1. Ensure that you collate a list of appropriate close contacts for the person who has tested positive within your establishment and inform these close contacts that they now need to self-isolate.
  2. Call the service hub on 020 3743 6715 as soon as you have the 8-digit NHS Test and Trace Account ID (sometimes referred to as a CTAS number) of the person who has tested positive.
  3. Provide the details of the person who has tested positive, along with the details of the relevant staff members you have identified as close contacts. If you do not have NHS Test and Trace Account ID for the person who has tested positive, Hub staff will assist in tracing the person in order to register their contacts on the Test and Trace system (CTAS).
  4. NHS Test and Trace will then contact individuals to formally advise them of their need to self-isolate and provide them with an NHS Test and Trace Account ID.
  5. Following this, individuals who are employed or self-employed, on a low income, unable to work from home and losing income as a result may qualify for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme through their local authority.

Minimising risk of infection transmission

What steps should we take to minimise the risk of infection transmission?

The DfE guidance on protective measures outlines steps providers can take to deal with direct transmission (e.g. via coughing and sneezing) and indirect transmission (e.g. through touching contaminated surfaces). 

The key steps the government says providers should take to reduce the risk of transmitting an infection are: 


1. Ensure good hygiene for everyone

2. Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes, using standard products such as detergents 

3. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated 

4. Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Do I / we need to wear masks / face coverings at the setting? 

Face coverings are no longer recommended for staff and visitors in corridors and communal areas, although DfE guidance also states: “If you have an outbreak in your setting, a director of public health might advise you that face coverings should temporarily be worn in communal areas by staff and visitors (unless they have an exemption).”

Do we need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?

The government guidance states that: “Most staff in settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. The guidance on Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) provides more information on the use of PPE for COVID-19.

What do we need to do to keep the setting well-ventilated?

The Actions for Early Years guidance states that good ventilation can be achieved by a variety of measures, including:

— mechanical ventilation systems: these should be adjusted to increase the ventilation rate wherever possible, and checked to confirm that normal operation meets current guidance (if possible, systems should be adjusted to full fresh air or, if not, then systems should be operated as normal as long as they are within a single room and supplemented by an outdoor air supply).

— natural ventilation: opening windows, when it is safe to do so. In colder weather, windows should be opened just enough to provide constant background ventilation and periodically opened more fully when it is safe to do so to purge the air in the space

The guidance also states that to balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature, the following measures should also be used as appropriate:

  • opening high level windows in preference to low level to reduce draughts
  • increasing the ventilation while spaces are unoccupied
  • re-arranging furniture where possible to avoid direct draughts.

It adds that “Heating should be used as necessary to ensure comfort levels are maintained, particularly in occupied spaces.”

Do I / we need to take children’s temperatures regularly throughout the day?

No, this is not a requirement. The previous DfE guidance stated that: “PHE is clear that routinely taking the temperature of children is not recommended as this is an unreliable method for identifying coronavirus (COVID-19).”

If a child has a temperature following a routine immunisation, can they attend the setting?

Yes, if there is no reason to suspect they have contracted Covid-19. DfE guidance states that: “Vaccines may cause a mild fever in children. This is a common and expected reaction, and isolation is not required unless coronavirus (COVID-19) is suspected.

Parents and carers should monitor side effects from a vaccination or teething, and if they are concerned about their child’s health, they should seek advice from their GP or NHS 111.

 If COVID-19 is suspected the child should start isolating and get tested.

Can children take part in messy play?

Yes, restrictions on messy play have been removed from government guidance.

Are parents and carers allowed inside the setting?

Yes, restrictions on parental pick-ups and drop-offs have been removed from government guidance. 

Do we need to keep a record of which children and staff are in close contact with each other?

DfE guidance states: "From 19 July 2021, close contacts will be identified via NHS Test and Trace. As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case to identify very close contacts. This is likely to be a very small number of individuals who would be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of the close contact.

"You may be contacted in exceptional cases to help with identifying close contacts, as currently happens in managing other infectious diseases. Settings will continue to have a role in working with health protection teams in the case of a local outbreak.”

The DfE has published further information on contact tracing, including frequently asked questions and answers, and a template letter for settings to send to parents informing them of the changes. These can be accessed here.  

Can early years professionals conduct home visits?

Yes, restrictions on home visits have been removed from government guidance.

Coronavirus - symptoms and testing

Can early years staff get tested for coronavirus?

Yes. All early years staff (including childminders, and anyone who works in an occupation related to an early years childcare provider) – as well as adults in their households, childcare and support bubbles – are now eligible for twice weekly asymptomatic lateral flow testing. Tests can be taken at a test site, picked up at a collection point, or ordered online.

For more details about how this works, and information on missing test kits read our Lateral Flow Testing in Early Years Settings - What You Need To Know page.

Do we still need to conduct lateral flow tests? 

Yes. DfE guidance states: “Early years staff should undertake twice weekly home tests whenever they are on site until the end of September, when this will also be reviewed.” 

What should be done if a child or member of staff starts displaying coronavirus symptoms while at a setting?

The DfE states that if anyone in your setting develops COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, you should send them home and they should follow public health advice. 

For everyone with symptoms, 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 the use of PPE guidance.  Any rooms they use should be cleaned after they have left.  

The household (including any siblings) should follow the PHE stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. 

What happens if a child or member of staff starts displaying symptoms while not at the setting?

DfE guidance states that: “Children, staff and other adults should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do - Coronavirus (COVID-19). They should not come into the setting if they have symptoms 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 or have a positive test).”

What should I do if a parent/carer does not agree that their child needs to self-isolate after showing symptoms of COVID-19?

The DfE guidance says that in “the vast majority ofmost cases” providers and parents/carers will be in agreement that a child with symptoms should not attend the setting, given the potential risk to others. 

In the event that a parent or carer insists on a child attending the setting, the DfE says that “you can take the decision to refuse the child if, in your reasonable judgement, it is necessary to protect other children and staff from possible infection with COVID-19”.

It adds that “your decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and current public health advice.”

Parents and carers on low incomes whose children are required to self-isolate may be eligible for the one-off £500 Test and Trace support payment. 

What do I / we do if a child or member of staff tests positive for coronavirus? 

DfE guidance states that staff and children with a positive rapid lateral flow test result should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance. They will also need to get a free PCR test to check if they have COVID-19 and to confirm the result. 

Whilst awaiting the PCR result, the individual should continue to self-isolate. 

If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive rapid lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the rapid lateral flow test and they can return to the setting, as long as the individual doesn’t have COVID-19 symptoms.

Those with a negative rapid lateral flow test result can also continue to attend the setting.

If the PCR test is positive, the individual should continue isolating in accordance with general government guidance. 

If a child or staff member at the setting tests positive, do we have to close the whole room/bubble? 

Up until 15 August, close contacts of confirmed positive cases should continue to self-isolate in accordance with current government guidance. 

However, from 16 August, the government intends to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated, and those aged under 18, from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case. 

The Department for Education has advised that further guidance on this will be published shortly. 

Do we need to notify Ofsted if a child or member of staff at the setting tests positive for coronavirus?

Yes. DfE guidance states that: "You must notify Ofsted, or the childminder agency with which you are registered, of any confirmed cases in the setting, whether a child or a staff member. You should also tell Ofsted if you have to close the setting as a result. This is a legal requirement. Report as soon as you are able to, and in any case within 14 days. See the guidance on reporting incidents to assure all the information required is included.” 

If staff or children at the setting have been in contact with someone else at the setting who has tested positive for coronavirus and told to self-isolate, do their household members have to self-isolate as well?

No. Previous DfE guidance stated that: “Household members of those who are sent home do not need to self-isolate themselves unless the child or staff member who is self-isolating subsequently develops symptoms.”

What happens if someone who has been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for coronavirus starts to display symptoms themselves?

DfE guidance states that if someone in a group that has been asked to self-isolate develops symptoms themselves within their 10-day isolation period, they should get a test.

If the test is negative, they “must remain in isolation for the remainder of the 10-day isolation period. This is because they could still develop the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the remaining days”.

If the test result is positive, “they should inform their setting immediately, and must isolate for at least ten days from the onset of their symptoms (which could mean the self-isolation ends before or after the original 10-day isolation period). Their household should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when they first displayed symptoms”.

The definition of a close contact has been clarified in the guidance as:

  • Anyone who lives in the same household as someone with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation
  • within 1 metre skin-to-skin physical contact for any length of time
  • been within 1 metre for 1 minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact or added up together over 1 day)
  • travelled in the same vehicle or a plane
Do parents need to provide evidence that their children have tested negative for coronavirus before their children are allowed to return to a setting if they have been self-isolating?

No. Previous DfE guidance stated that: “Settings should not request evidence of negative test results or other medical evidence before admitting children or welcoming them back after a period of self-isolation.”

What happens if someone who lives with a child or staff member at the setting has symptoms of coronavirus?

Currently someone who lives with a child or staff member at your setting becomes ill with suspected Covid-19, the child or staff member in question will need to isolate for 10 days from when the first person in their home started experiencing symptoms and follow government Stay at Home guidance, available here.

However, as of 16 August, the government also intends to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated, and those aged under 18, from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case.

What do I / we do if there is a potential outbreak of coronavirus at the setting?

DfE guidance states that you should have outbreak management plans outlining how you would operate if there were an outbreak in your setting or local area. 

Given the detrimental impact that restrictions on education can have on children, any measures in settings should only ever be considered as a last resort, kept to the minimum number of settings or groups possible, and for the shortest amount of time possible.  

Central government may offer local areas of particular concern an enhanced response package to help limit increases in transmission.

If you have several confirmed cases within 14 days, you may have an outbreak. 

In the event of an outbreak, you should call the dedicated advice service who will escalate the issue to your local health protection team where necessary and advise if any additional action is required, such as implementing elements of your outbreak management plan. You can reach them by calling the DfE helpline on 0800 046 8687 and selecting option 1 for advice on the action to take in response to a positive case. 

Can a child or staff who displays Covid symptoms attend an early years setting if they can have daily lateral tests? 

No. The DfE has previously confirmed to the Alliance that the guidance remains that the child or staff member must isolate and get a test if they have Covid symptoms and await a test result and only resume attendance if the test is negative – if it is positive, they must isolate. There has, to date, been no change to this guidance. 

Do staff who have already had Covid still have to isolate if they have had close contact with a positive case?  

The Department for Education has previously confirmed that they would still have to isolate. 

However, as of 16 August, the government intends to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated, and those aged under 18, from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case. 

Are there any plans to update the official Covid-19 symptoms for children, given numerous reports of children testing positive who don't present with the main three symptoms, but do present consistently with other symptoms such as diarrhoea and/or vomiting? 

The DfE has confirmed there are no plans at present to do this. 


I am a childminder. Am I still allowed to look after school-age children as well as early years children?


I am a childminder. Am I still allowed to drop-off and pick-up children from other settings?

Yes. Restrictions on childminder drop-off and pick-ups have been removed from government guidance.

Can I meet up with other childminders? 

Yes. Limitations on childminder meet ups have been removed from government guidance.

Can childminders attend parent and toddler groups and / or childminder drop-in groups? 

The DfE has advised that childminders can attend parent and toddler groups and should follow the guidance on ‘Trips outside of the setting’ in Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  

They add that “If a childminder is organising a group for under-fives and the parent attends the session with their child, they should follow the guidance on parent and child groups. Parent and child groups must not, however, meet in homes or private gardens.”  

As of Step 4, all limitations on meetings indoors or outdoors will be removed. 

If a child attending a childminding setting is sent home because someone in their class at school or room at nursery has tested positive for coronavirus, other than that child self-isolating, does the childminder have to take any action?

No. The government has confirmed that no action would be necessary "unless the child themselves became symptomatic or they were contacted by Test and Trace".

If a childminder’s own child is self-isolating (without symptoms but because a class member has tested positive), can the childminder still provide a service from their home?

The Department for Education has advised that: “If the person isolating as a result of coming into contact with a positive case is not showing symptoms of coronavirus and does not require a test, childminders can continue to provide childcare at their registered setting. Settings should ensure they keep open communication with parents and carers of children attending the setting.

“The person isolating must not have any contact with the children being cared for in the setting. For example, the person isolating must use a separate bathroom where possible. If the person isolating has to use a shared bathroom or other communal areas, these must be thoroughly cleaned after every use."

DfE guidance states that childminders must:

  • comply with health and safety law, which requires a risk assessment. The risk assessment must demonstrate that the provision of childcare in their setting is safe and aligns with the ‘system of controls’. Further guidance on cleaning can be found in COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings outside the home
  • put in place proportionate control measures. For more information on what is required of employers in relation to health and safety risk assessments, please see annex A of the guidance for full opening: schools

It adds that childminders should:

  • thoroughly review their health and safety risk assessment. 
  • have active arrangements in place to monitor that the controls are effective, working as planned, and updated appropriately. For example, when any issues are identified, or when there are changes in public health advice. 

If a member of the childminder’s household has themselves tested positive for Covid-19, the childminder cannot care for children in their home because all household members must self-isolate.

If the childminder has tested positive for coronavirus, all children who attended the setting during the infectious period are considered close contacts and must isolate.

Are childminders and other early years providers permitted to take children on outings using their cars?  

Government guidance states that provider can take children on educational day visits, but that “any educational day visits must be conducted in line with relevant COVID-19 guidance and regulations in place at the time. 

Baby and toddler groups

Are there any restrictions on how baby and toddler groups can operate?

No, parents and toddler groups can operate as normal without restrictions on attendance.  

The DfE has confirmed that groups organised by a “charitable institution” includes charities who are not required to be registered.  

Baby and toddler group members can find our tailored guide to reopening here

Are there any restrictions on singing in baby and toddler groups?  

There are no restrictions on the number of people who can singing indoors or outdoors. The DfE added that some activities however can increase the risk of catching or passing on Covid-19. This happens where people are doing activities which generate more droplets as they breathe heavily, such as singing, dancing, exercising or raising their voices. The risk is greatest where these factors overlap, for example in crowded indoor spaces. In these situations, you should be particularly careful to follow the guidance on keeping yourself and others safe


Out-of-school clubs

I run an out-of-school club. What are the rules on how I am able to operate?

Wraparound providers are able to offer wraparound childcare for all children.

Are children required to socially distance at out-of-school settings?

No, all social distancing requirements have now been removed from government guidance.

I run an out-of school music club. How do I minimise the risk of transmission?

The DfE advises that the following measures are put in place where children are singing or playing wind or brass instruments:

  • social distancing is observed at all times whilst playing wind or brass instruments or singing (2 metres, wherever possible, or 1 metre with robust risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable)
  • children should use seating where practical to help maintain social distancing
  • back-to-back or side-to-side positioning (rather than face-to-face) is used whenever possible
  • position wind and brass players so that the air from their instrument does not blow into another player
  • activities which can create aerosol are discouraged, such as shouting or singing loudly - we advise providers to use microphones where possible or encourage children to sing quietly
  • singing or playing wind or brass instruments outdoors, wherever possible
  • if playing wind or brass instruments indoors or singing indoors, you should limit the number of children attending to account for ventilation of the space and the ability to social distance
  • take steps to improve ventilation as far as possible and whenever possible, either through the use of mechanical systems and/or opening windows and doors
  • if hosting a performance, limit as far possible the number of performers and audience members
  • steps are taken to encourage audiences to support the overall safety of the event, including seating individuals rather than allowing them to stand (to help maintain social distancing) and the other mitigations outlined in this guidance
  • limit the duration of activity as far as possible, including considering the need for breaks and intervals
  • continue to take the other vital steps outlined in this guidance, including preventing unwell people from attending, maintaining cleanliness, supporting contact tracing and other mitigating measures.
Can children who are clinically extremely vulnerable attend out-of-school clubs?

Shielding guidance ended on 1 April, after which time they can attend settings as normal.


Are we allowed to take children out on trips to the park and other public spaces?

Yes. restrictions on trips to outdoor spaces has been removed from government guidance.

Can we take trips to indoor spaces? 

Yes, restrictions on trips to indoor spaces has been removed from government guidance.

Can I / we have other visitors, such as contractors, to the setting?

Yes, restrictions on visitors to settings has been removed from government guidance. 

Can we have volunteers at the setting?

Yes, restrictions on volunteers at settings has been removed from government guidance. 

Can we conduct in-person job interviews at the setting?

Yes, restrictions on recruitment practices has been removed from government guidance. 

Do temporary changes to the EYFS still apply?

On 24 April, the government brought into force changes to how the EYFS applies during the coronavirus outbreak, including asking early years providers to use “reasonable endeavours” to learning and development requirements, instead of this being something they ‘must do’. The Early Years Alliance has provided an overview of these changes online.

On 28 June, the government confirmed that the changes would come to an end on, or before, 31 August 2021. 

The DfE says that the disapplications may end sooner if coronavirus restrictions are lifted sooner.

Should all coronavirus restrictions be lifted on 19 July, the DfE suggests, the conditions under which disapplications were granted will also no longer apply. This is also set to apply to disapplications relating to Paediatric First Aid (PFA) certificates. 

EYFS learning and development and assessment requirements resumed from 26 September 2020 and must continue to be met. The two month transitional period for requirements relating to staff qualifications and Paediatric First Aid changes ended on 25 November 2020. However, if a provider is subject to any national or local Covid-related restrictions which affect their ability to comply with the EYFS, then these disapplications will be reapplied.

The government has also confirmed that “the extension period for PFA certificates expiring on or after 1 October 2020 has ended, and that practitioners must attend PFA certificate requalification training in order to have a valid certificate, if their previous certificate has expired. 

Are we still expected to complete the two-year-old progress check? 

If a provider is subject to any national or local Covid-related restrictions which affect their ability to comply with the EYFS, then DfE guidance states that “there is no requirement for providers to undertake this check, but providers should still remain alert to any emerging concerns about any child in their care, and endeavour to provide or seek additional support if needed”.

The guidance adds that “It is expected that the checks will take place as soon as is practical once the child returns to, or joins, the early years setting, including where a child has turned 3 if it is considered appropriate and useful in the provider’s professional judgement and in discussion with the child’s parents or carers.”

What financial support is available for providers during this period?

Job Retention Scheme:  The government has confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended until the end of September 2021, with  employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. Early years providers will be able to apply the scheme to an equivalent proportion of their paybill to any losses in both private and public income.

Self-Employment Income Support Scheme:

Self-employed individuals will receive 80% of their average trading profits through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), averaged over three months, up to a maximum of £7,500. 

So far three grants have been given out. 

In March 2021, it was announced that a fourth and fifth grant will be made available.

The fourth grant covers the three-month period from the start of February 2021 until the end of April 2021. As with previous SEISS grants, it is worth up to 80% of trading profits, averaged over three months, up to £7,500 in total.

The fifth grant covers early May 2021 to late July 2021, but the amount available depends on loss of income.

Claims can be made from next month for the fourth grant. Claims for the fifth grant will open in July.

Read the government guidance here

Early entitlement funding: The DfE has confirmed that it is returning to the normal process for early years funding in January 2021 - i.e. that it will "fund all local authorities on the basis of their January 2021 census for the spring term". The DfE guidance says that for councils "where attendance is below 85% of their January 2020 census levels, and where that local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term", they will receive 'top-up funding' limited to the equivalent of 85% of the council's January 2020 census. Local authorities "should return to the normal funding approach (that is, ‘funding following the child’) for all providers from 1 January 2021".

A comprehensive overview of the financial support available for early years provider can be found on our Business Advice page.

Are we allowed to continue our toothbrushing programme?

Yes, but you must use a dry brushing method. 

The DfE guidance states: “The wet brushing model is not recommended because it is considered more likely to risk droplet and contact transmission and offers no additional benefit to oral health over dry toothbrushing.”

My setting is reopening after being closed. How can I reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease?

The Health and Safety Executive has guidance available on this here.

How should early years staff use the NHS Covid-19 App? 

Government guidance states that education and childcare setting leaders and staff should familiarise themselves with the features of the app, and advises that pausing the contact tracing function on the app is recommended “when an individual is not able to have their phone with them, for example because it is stored in a locker or communal area” to avoid the app picking up contacts when the individual is not with their phone.

If the contact tracing function is accidentally left on, and a staff member receives a notificiation advising them to self-isolate, then the DfE advises that you "should always follow advise to self-isolate" even if you think it may be a false notification, as you cannot be sure when contact was made.

Guidance on the use of the NHS Covid-19 app in education and childcare settings is available here

Summer activities

Are we allowed to hold a sports day?

Yes, all limits on indoor and outdoor events will have been removed from government guidance.

Can we go ahead with our planned leavers' event?

Yes, all limits on indoor and outdoor events have been removed from government guidance.

Can we hold taster and open days?

Yes, all limits on indoor and outdoor events have been removed from government guidance.

Can we still put on our end-of-year performance?

Yes, all limits on indoor and outdoor events have been removed from government guidance.


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