Face coverings are being sent to early years group providers and primary schools

In line with Public Health England (PHE) advice, the Department for Education has temporarily extended its policy on the use of face coverings in education and childcare settings, as an additional precautionary measure during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the community.

In primary schools and early years settings, we now recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and adult visitors where social distancing between adults is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas). Children in these settings should not be asked to wear face coverings.

We expect that most adults will already have access to face coverings from their wider use in society, however, it is recommended that all settings have a small contingency stock of face coverings available, should an individual have forgotten, lost or damaged their own.

To support the return to full attendance and ensure maximum compliance with the system of controls, the Department of Health and Social Care is completing a one-off delivery of approximately 450 ‘Type IIR’ masks to early years providers (maintained nursery schools, school-based nurseries, and private, voluntary and independent nurseries) and primary schools where there are multiple members of adult staff and visitors on the premises. This supply is to be used as a contingency stock and you should expect to receive your delivery by Wednesday 17 March.

Childminders will not receive a direct delivery of contingency face covering stock, however you can request a small number (approximately 2 to 5 per childminder) of face coverings from your local nursery or primary school to use only as contingency stock. Nurseries and primary schools should consider how much stock they have available and should use their discretion when deciding if they can support childminders.

These face coverings are being provided by the Department of Health and Social Care at no cost to your setting. They cannot accept any returns for these items.

Secondary schools and further education colleges have already received a delivery of Type IIR masks for use as their contingency face coverings stock.

If providers have any queries or complaints on delivery or missing items, please contact the Department of Health and Social Care personal protective equipment (PPE) support service (provided by UNIPART) identifying themselves as an education setting and emailing: dfeppequeries@unipart.com.

Further information on the use of face coverings, please see the Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak guidance.