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Planning for Re-opening Early Years and Childcare Providers from 1st June 2020

Last Updated 3:46pm, 27 May 2020


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This guidance has been adapted from the coronavirus (COVID-19) Site Operational Procedures that were established in line with guidance. These guidelines are intended to assist early years providers in implementing precautionary measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) disease in childcare settings. Providers should build on these considerations and guidelines to form Site Operating Procedures (SOP), suitable to their situation. These guidelines are based on Public Health England and Department for Education guidance for educational settings and their key workers.

The key purpose of this guidance document is to provide support, advice and guidance in the planning processes for the re-opening of your provision and the transitioning of children back into an Early Years and Out of School settings. This guidance may be updated when government advice, circumstances, or any of the assessed risk factors are seen to have changed and should be read in conjunction with the latest DfE guidance as referred to above. Any updates to this guidance will be circulated by the Local Authority as soon as it is made aware.



  • Contact all families, prior to opening, to establish their childcare need from the 1st June. This will support you with your decision making about opening times, numbers of children and availability of spaces.
  • Consider making a COVID admission criteria, using the priority groups identified in the DfE documents. This will help you decide on allocation of places if demand is higher than your availability or if your risk assessment identifies that you may need to introduce a temporary cap on numbers, staggered starts or part time offers.
  • Only children who are symptom free or have completed the required isolation period should attend.
  • Children who have been classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions’ have been advised to shield and they should continue to be supported at home as much as possible.
  • Consider how you can help the transition back to nursery. What might this look like for SEN or disadvantaged children?
  • Continue to report your daily numbers back to the LA – this supports the overall national understanding of children attending provision.

Physical distancing and grouping

  • Children are usually organised into small groups or rooms within early years settings. Where possible ensure children and keyworkers are in the same small groups or ‘bubbles’ at all times each day, and different groups are not mixed during the day, or on subsequent days.
  • As per the guidance use Early Years Foundation Stage ratio requirements to support groupings of children.
  • Care routines including provision of meals, nappy changing, and toileting should be within the space allocated to each group wherever possible
  • The use of communal internal spaces should be restricted as much as possible, consider the use of toilets and help that children might need during this time.
  • Outdoor spaces should be used by different ‘groups’ or ‘bubbles’ at different times of the day and cleaned in between groups.
  • Distancing of beds/cots should be facilitated wherever possible.

Wellbeing and education

  • Children should be supported in age appropriate ways to understand the steps they can take to keep themselves safe, including regular hand washing and sneezing into a tissue.
  • Children should be supported to understand the changes and challenges they may be encountering as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) and staff need to ensure they are aware of children’s attachments and their need for emotional support at this time.
  • Play equipment to be minimised and multiple groups are not to use it simultaneously.
  • Minimise contact and mixing by altering, as much as possible, the environment.

Learning and development

  • Decide as a staff team the learning and development opportunities you want to provide and offer to children as they begin to return to the setting.
  • Plan how will continue to maintain contact if families choose for their children not to return initially or children are not able to return due to capacity in provision.



  • Contact staff to understand how they feel about returning to work, are there any issues/concerns that need to be considered beforehand. For example – ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ staff? Complete a Risk Assessment for vulnerable workers using the available form Risk Assessment for Vulnerable Groups
  • This will help you to know how many staff you have returning to work and to establish working patterns or identify work that might need to be undertaken at home.
  • Where practicable to do so, involve staff in the planning of the re-opening of the provision and identify what challenges there may be.
  • Consideration should only be given to limiting the number of staff in the provision at any one time to those required to care for the expected occupancy levels on any given day.
  • Be aware of the changes to the EYFS during COVID-19 and refer to the Department for Education Statutory Guidance: Early Years Foundation Stage: coronavirus disapplications
  • Once you know your offer, write to staff about your plans, outline their roles and responsibilities and the support you have on offer.
  • Staff should only attend the nursery if they are symptom free, have completed the required isolation period or achieved a negative test result.
  • Consider if staff should get changed into their uniform at the setting and leave it there at the end of the day to be washed. Do you have a suitable place for this to happen?
  • Practitioners should receive clear communication regarding the role they play in safe operating procedure and all measures being taken to ensure the safety of the children and themselves.
  • Consider staff’s mental health and wellbeing and implement appropriate measures.

Physical distancing and grouping

  • Wherever possible staff should remain with the small group of children who they are allocated to and not come into contact with other groups.
  • Emergency revisions to the EYFS have been implemented which provides some flexibility on ratios and qualifications to make this feasible.
  • Social distancing must be maintained during breaks. This may be achieved through a range of strategies including the staggering of breaks and subdivision of spaces allocated to team breaks where possible groups.
  • Staff members should avoid physical contact with each other including handshakes, hugs etc.
  • Where possible, meetings and training sessions should be conducted through virtual conferencing.


  • All staff members must receive appropriate instruction and training in infection control and the standard operating procedure and risk assessments within which they will be operating. For example, the World Health Organisation offer free online training such as hand washing and how to put on and remove PPE.
  • Ensure you follow the guidance set out in ‘Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplication’s’ about ensuring appropriate first aid arrangements are in place.
  • Ensure staff fully understand and are clear about their Safeguarding Policies and Procedures and ‘what to do if’ there is a disclosure.


Physical distancing

  • When you know what your offer will be and how you plan to operate, write to parents offering reassurance about the steps that you have taken and your expectations during this time e.g. drop offs, collections and other operational information.
  • Only parents who are symptom free and or have completed the required isolation periods will be able to drop off or collect their child
  • Aim to limit drop off and pick up to 1 parent per family and stagger the timings where possible.
  • Arrange drop off and pick up at the nursery entrance to avoid parents entering the nursery unnecessarily.
  • When parents are waiting to drop off or collect their child, physical distancing should be maintained in a safe area.


  • Parents should receive clear communication regarding the role they play in the safe operating procedure and all measures being taken to ensure the safety of their children and themselves.


  • Attendance to the setting should be restricted to children and staff as far as practically possible and visitors should not be permitted to the nursery unless essential (e.g. essential building maintenance, EHCP assessments etc.) Where essential visits are required these should be made outside of the usual nursery operational hours where possible and using your coronavirus (COVID-19) risk assessment procedures.

Travel associated with setting operations

  • Wherever possible staff and parents should travel to the nursery alone, using their own transport
  • If public transport is necessary, current guidance on the use of public transport must be followed (this should be included in your Risk Assessment).
  • Parents should be encouraged to ensure they do not leave travel accessories including buggies, car seats, scooters in the setting premises, but rather in external buggy areas if necessary.
  • Outings from the setting into the local community should be restricted unless the setting has no or very limited outside space in which case outings to open spaces which do not include mixing with members of the general public could be considered (subject to Risk Assessments).

Hygiene and health and safety

Hand washing

  • All children and staff must wash their hands upon arrival at the nursery
  • Children and staff members should be encouraged to wash their hands, for 20 seconds, frequently throughout the day.


  • Follow the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
  • An enhanced cleaning schedule must be implemented that includes furniture, surfaces and children’s toys and equipment – ensure you discuss this with your contractor (if appropriate).
  • Communal area, touch points and hand washing facilities must be cleaned and sanitised regularly.

Waste Disposal

  • All waste must be disposed of in a hygienic and safe manner
  • Tissues must be immediately disposed of and the bin emptied frequently throughout the day. Waste from possible cases, and from cleaning where possible cases have been, should be stored in a plastic waste bag, tied at the top and double bagged in a further waste bag. It should be stored safely and kept away from children. You should not put your waste in communal waste areas until negative test results are known, or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours. For more information see: COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance


  • All items within the setting requiring laundering must be washed in line with NHS laundry guidelines.
  • Items such as towels, flannels and bedding must not be shared by children.

Risk assessment

  • You will need a specific COVID risk assessment that covers all areas of your work during this period. We would suggest it included, but not limited, to the areas highlighted in the first two columns of this document.
  • All activities should be risk assessed and due consideration given to any adaptations to usual practice. It is expected that would include, but not be limited, to the suspension of learning experiences involving materials which are not easily washable such as malleable materials and the suspension of the sharing of food and utensils


  • Government guidance is that PPE is not required for general use in early years settings to protect against coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. PPE should continue to be worn as normal for nappy changing and the administration of first aid
  • Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. PPE for suspected cases, please see below.

Food and water

  • Consider your offer during this time for snacks, lunch and drinks. Contact your supplier (if appropriate) to discuss deliveries etc. What health and safety issues do you need to consider?



  • Undertake a risk assessment to help you understand how you can safely use the space. Do you need to consider having smaller groups of children than your registered numbers? Do you need to divide up your space to allow for smaller groups? You might need to cap numbers of children attending?
  • Where premises have been temporarily closed during the lockdown period or where they may need to temporarily close during future lockdowns appropriate Health & Safety checks should be conducted prior to reopening including legionnaires checks.
  • Avoid use of lifts other than where essential.
  • Where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or ventilation unit.


  • Children should not be permitted to bring items from home into the setting unless essential for their wellbeing.
  • Where this is the case items should be appropriately cleaned upon arrival All resources required for play and learning experiences of children should be regularly washed and/or sterilised.
  • Remove soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean (such as those with intricate parts).
  • Decide on policy related to usually shared items (for example, books, toys, practical equipment).
  • Equipment used by staff such as stationary, tablets etc. should be allocated to individual staff members where possible and cleaned regularly.

Procurement and monitoring supplies

  • The setting should ensure an adequate supply of essential supplies and contingency plans are in place to minimise the impact of any shortages of supplies. The setting will not be able to operate without essential supplies required for ensuring infection control.
  • A monitoring system for the usage of PPE is essential to ensure that a supply of stock is available to all who require it as and when required to meet the operational needs of the setting. When stocks are low, other options may be considered, such as the use of washable tabards. These items will be washed at a high temperature and separate to any other nursery washing.
  • In the case the supply of food is interrupted, procedures must be implemented to ensure the appropriate food alternatives are sourced and normal food safety and hygiene processes are followed.

Responding to a suspected case

  • In the event of a child developing suspected coronavirus symptoms whilst attending the setting, they should be collected as soon as possible and isolate at home in line with the NHS guidance
  • Whilst waiting for the child to be collected they should be isolated from others in a previously identified room or area. If possible, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
  • The staff member responsible for the child during this time should be a staff member from their group.
  • Government guidance recommends that if a child becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus whilst at the settings and needs direct personal care until they return home, a fluid-resistant surgical mask, disposable gloves and a disposable apron should be also worn.
  • The area should be thoroughly cleaned, immediately if the area cannot be left unvisited, and if the area can be left unvisited then cleaned after 72 hours.
  • The person responsible for cleaning the area should wear appropriate PPE.
  • In the event of a staff member developing suspected coronavirus symptoms whilst working at the nursery, they should return home immediately and isolate at home in line with the NHS guidance.

Safeguarding and child protection

  • Ensure your Designated Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead is always on site or contactable.
  • Continue to monitor children who have a social worker who are not attending.
  • Agree what safeguarding provision is needed to support returning children (e.g. where new issues have arisen, or existing ones escalated)
  • Ensure appropriate reporting process are adhered to for non-attendance.
  • Continue to follow the statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children, Keeping Children Safe in Education and coronavirus (COVID-19) safeguarding in schools, colleges and other provisions
  • Review your safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they are in line with current circumstances and continue to keep it updated as these circumstances evolve and change. A COVID-19 Annexe or Addendum may be more appropriate than re-writing the whole policy. Staff and volunteers should be made aware of the new policy and kept up to date if it is revised. The policy should also be made available to parents/carers.