Last Updated 3:50pm, 8 March 2021
At every stage since the start of the pandemic, decisions across education and care have been informed by the scientific and medical evidence – both on the risks of COVID-19 infection, transmission and illness, and on the known risks to children and young people not attending school and college – balancing public health and education considerations. This summary sets out the evidence relevant to, and in support of, the Government’s decision to lift restrictions on education from 8 March 2021.
On 4 January the government announced a new national lockdown in England. Information on what you can and cannot do during this time is available on the government website.
The guidance around actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been updated following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 22 February.
We know that frontline staff in all sectors are working directly with children and families, and we continue to support and lobby for further prioritisation for vaccination. However at this stage, the national guidance does not make provision for early years staff, mainstream school staff, and childminders to receive the COVID-19 vaccination now as part of the prioritisation of frontline staff. This means that if as an early years worker or childminder, or member of mainstream school staff including teachers, you have booked a vaccination, this may be cancelled. Please read this national guidance carefully for further details.
We understand that this is a difficult situation, and continue to support you in seeking vaccination priority for staff working directly with children and families.
The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has outlined the asymptomatic testing programme in education. Currently, the asymptomatic testing programme in education covers all staff at school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools.
We are now expanding home testing kits to staff in all private, voluntary and independent nurseries. These settings will start to receive deliveries of lateral flow device (LFD) home testing kits to offer to all of their staff for twice weekly testing from next month.
This is a significant development that will help to identify positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) more quickly and break the chains of transmission. Childminders continue to have access to community testing facilities for asymptomatic testing.
Home testing will be available for independent training providers and adult community learning providers by the end of March.
The education in the media blog details what this means for you.
Reporting a test result
If you need advice and are not getting a timely response from the DfE or the Public Health England South West Health Protection Team (PHE SW HPT), Public Health Devon have advised that you request a call back from the Devon County Council Public Health Team. To do this, add your request to the ‘Additional Comments/Questions’ section of your smart survey return.
If you need support for single confirmed cases, call the DfE Helpline on 0800 046 8687 (Mon-Fri 8am-6pm and Sat-Sun 10am-6pm) and follow the National Action Card for your setting. You can still contact the DfE helpline if you have further single cases, but you do not need to if you feel confident to follow the guidance to identify and isolate close contacts without further support.
For two or more confirmed cases in the same group or class, follow the National Action Card for your setting. If you need further advice, the LA and the PHE SW HPT (0300 303 8162) can also provide support.
You should also call the PHE SW HPT (0300 303 8162) regarding possible COVID-19 cases if:
- The number of cases exceeds 5 within 14 days
- You’ve taken appropriate action but are still seeing more cases
- You’re thinking you might need to close because of the number of people affected
- Somebody in your education setting has been admitted to hospital
- You’re getting significant interest from local media
Please also refer to the PHE SW HPT’s latest guidance for childcare and educational settings in the management of COVID-19 and their updated advice about Acute Respiratory Infection management in education settings.
Support for early years and childcare providers
The Early Years and Childcare Service want to make sure that you are kept up to date with the latest advice and information. You can do this in the following ways:
Your early years and childcare advisers (EYCA) should be your first point of contact; they are available for providers to call, Skype or email. Full details can be found in the EYCA contact list.
The funding helpdesk continues to be available for providers questions about the entitlement funding. Email queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
We are managing additional funding to support providers through and beyond the pandemic.
Please note that the team are currently working from home, so please do not send any post to County Hall.
Information for early years and childcare providers
There is also a poster with details of how to contact PHE as well as a flowchart with guidance for childcare and educational settings about the management of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Department for Education have produced an action list detailing what to do if a child is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Local re-opening guidance and sample risk assessment
In order to help you plan and prepare to re-open your setting to more children we have put together a sample Childcare Risk Assessment that can be adapted when re-opening your childcare.
All early years providers, with children who have not yet started in the reception class, should complete the Weekly Attendance Survey.
If there are children unable to attend their usual setting because of isolation due to COVID-19, please do not count these children. This is because they are unable to attend another setting if isolating and we therefore do not consider them to present sufficiency concerns.
The data derived from the survey will be used for various purposes such as sufficiency and budget planning and it will also help the Early Years and Childcare Service in Devon County Council to plan resources.
The weekly attendance survey will be emailed to you every Thursday to be completed before 23:00 on the following Wednesday. This enables us to collate and submit a weekly return to the Department for Education.
If you need further help, please take a look at our user guide and refer to our set of FAQs for Early Years and Childcare Providers about the Attendance Survey.
There is also a new mailbox for you to email should you need further support.
Making every contact count
Children’s social care are asking that whenever an early years and childcare provider has regular contact with a child who is known to have an allocated social worker, professionals share the information with the children’s social care team using the ‘making every contact count’ form. Once complete, this form should be returned to email@example.com.
As early years and childcare providers are likely to be having contact several times a week, children’s social care are requesting that the form is completed every six weeks (half termly) starting from this half term (22 February). However, if you have a concern about anything within the six-week period you need to complete an additional form to highlight your concerns and return it to the central email inbox.
Further guidance and the latest updates from Ofsted relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) for schools, early years, children’s social care and further education and skills providers are available on the government website.
Ofsted will be carrying out a phased return to inspection and have announced their plans from September 2020, starting with interim visits for registered early years providers. The intention is to resume full inspections in January 2021, but this is still under review.
From the end of January 2021, childminders, nurseries and all other childcare providers must use an online notification form to tell Ofsted about significant events.
Don’t forget, if your operating circumstance change (you open or close), you need to notify Ofsted by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Emergency PPE for education and registered childcare settings
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is providing some additional PPE (masks, aprons, gloves and eye protection) to Local Authorities to help education and registered childcare settings manage with suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The emergency PPE will be held centrally by Devon County Council, where schools and registered childcare settings will be able to request it, free of charge, if they are unable obtain PPE through their usual supply chains. Schools and registered childcare settings are still required to supply their own PPE in the first instance. You can find a list of suppliers of PPE available here.
The emergency PPE can be requested by filling out this form. After a request has been approved, the PPE will be available to collect, within 7 days, from one of four collection points in Exeter, Newton Abbot, Tavistock or Barnstaple.
Financial support and funding
Information about financial support for early years and childcare providers is available on our webpages.
Further guidance about financial support for education, early years and children’s social care is available on the government website.
The DfE have also produced a resource pack to help us communicate with working parents. The pack includes a range of materials including flyers, social media assets and draft emails that help promote government childcare entitlements for children aged 2-4, as well as tax-free childcare.
Keep your details up to date on Pinpoint
Please ensure your Pinpoint record is up to date and shows whether you are open or closed.
All face-to-face training has been cancelled until further notice. However, we have a range of eLearning modules available to access via the DEL training website.
Government guidance for early years and childcare providers
Survey of Childcare and Early Years Providers and COVID-19
The Department for Education commissioned an online survey with childcare providers to help understand how childcare providers have responded to the pandemic, the status of childcare provision and any potential longer-term consequences for the childcare market. This research with childcare providers is available on the government website.
The National Children’s Bureau has provided answers to some FAQs about the lockdown from the Early Years sector.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will be extended for the full duration of the national lockdown with furloughed staff to be paid at least 80% of their salary up to £2,500 a month.
During the lockdown period, where early years settings are unable to deliver early years foundation stage (EYFS) requirements in full due to national lockdown restrictions, settings can disapply some of the requirements of the EYFS statutory framework as per the Department for Education’s (DfE) guidance.
Additionally, the following guidance is available on the government website:
- What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges
- Critical workers who can access schools or educational settings
- Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- Use of free early education entitlements during the coronavirus outbreak
- The government has also published protective measures for out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
- Safe Working in Education, Childcare and Childrens Social Care Settings including the use of Personal Protective equipment (PPE)
- Contingency framework: education and childcare settings (excluding universities)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for pregnant employees
- Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications
- This guidance about making a childcare bubble with another household explains how you can get informal childcare for anyone under 14 from friends and family you do not live with.
- DfE paper summarising evidence in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, particularly around children, young people and education settings.
Looking after ourselves and others
You can find more information on health and wellbeing on the ‘keeping safe and well’ advice page.
Here, we’ve highlighted some guidance that you should find useful:
- Guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
- The NHS has created a Coronavirus Staff Resilience Hub to help frontline staff manage their mental health and wellbeing and that of those they support. The e-learning relating to PACEY is particularly relevant.
- The Open University has launched a free children’s mental health course.
- The Greater Manchester Health and Social Care hub have developed this pack of resources to support mental health and wellbeing in early years settings.