*Additional* Early Years Update - 6.11.20

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dan barton

Dear Colleagues,

Another incredibly busy week with yet more change to deal with. I can't stress enough how impressive the response from Cumbrian education providers continues to be.

I do however want to draw your attention the Help is Here campaign being run by the council and partners. The campaign is signposting people to the range of support available in the county if they are struggling, be that financially or with their mental health due to current circumstances and I'd appreciate if you could make your community aware.

Thank you for your outstanding contribution.


Dan Barton

Assistant Director - Education & Skills  

Please note that as we go into the new national restrictions, we may send more than one bulletin per week due to the fast pace of the release of new information

Updated Checklist and Risk assessment for PVI providers and childminders

In the light of the national lockdown and an increase in the number of cases of COVID 19 being reported in settings across the county we have updated the risk assessment. Following feedback from Environmental Health it now suggests more robust procedures to prevent cross contamination between staff members. This includes kitchen areas, deployment of staff, covering staff breaks, staff meetings and considering how you group children during quiet periods.

Updates relating to this information can be found in green on the updated risk assessment which can be found here - Updated risk assessment

Confirmed Covid cases

We would like to remind you that if you have a confirmed case please remember to follow the Cumbria flowchart - Process for managing suspected Covid-19, inform Ofsted and your Early Years Adviser.

The process for informing Ofsted is included in the updated Risk Assessment and is as follows:

COVID confirmed cases

Any confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the setting (either child or staff member), and/or if the setting is advised to close as a result, should be swiftly reported to Ofsted, using Reporting a serious childcare incident online form https://www.gov.uk/guidance/report-a-serious-childcare-incident#history

Please report:

  • any confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the setting, either in children or staff
  • if the setting is advised to close as a result

You should report this as an “Event likely to impact on the smooth running of the setting”.

Please also confirm:

  • the date when cases were first suspected
  • the date when cases were confirmed as positive
  • the total number of children attending the setting at the time of the suspected case
  • the total number of staff working at the setting at the time of the suspected case
  • the date the setting is closing from, and when you intend to re-open (if applicable)
  • if you have notified the case to Cumbria County Council COVID-19 Call Centre on 0800 783 1968 or via educationIPC@cumbria.gov.uk

Key documents

Links to key documents are available below but please keep checking the Gov.uk website for further updates:

Education and childcare settings: New National Restrictions from 5 November 2020 (updated 5th November) - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak (updated 5th November) - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020

Early years foundation stage (EYFS) disapplications - updated 7 October.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) announcement - published 31 October.

Legislation underpinning national restrictions - published 3 November.

Guidance on shielding and protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 - updated 4 November.

Ofsted update on how they will carry out their work during the lockdown - updated 3 November.

Updated FAQs from the Early Years Alliance can be found here

National restrictions - guidance for education and childcare settings

Guidance has now been published here for education and childcare settings on the impact of the New National Restrictions from 5 November until 2 December 2020. Please note the following key points:

Alongside the Government guidance, the LA is recommending that non-essential visits to educational settings should cease.

Essential visits could include visits related to:

  • Safeguarding
  • Statutory work (eg. EHCP assessments, Health visits)

Any visits must be conducted in a COVID-safe way, and the ultimate decision rests with the setting Manager with regards to your own risk assessment. To minimise risk, wherever possible it is recommended to move activity online.

In relation to visitors to settings, the following sections of the guidance "Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak (updated 5th November)" - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020 are particularly relevant:

3.5 Visits to the setting from parents and carers, additional staff, external professionals and non-staff members

There will be occasions when visits to the setting are necessary, but settings are encouraged to avoid visitors entering their premises, wherever possible. A record should be kept of all visitors which follows the guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

New admissions

For new admissions, settings should consider providing virtual tours for prospective parents and carers.

If parents and carers are keen to visit in person, settings should consider:

  • ensuring face coverings are worn if required in line with arrangements for staff and other visitors to the setting (see section 3 on face coverings)
  • there is regular handwashing, especially before and after the visit
  • holding visits after hours. If this is not possible, consider limiting visits to the outside play areas during regular hours, and ensure strict social distancing is observed

Prior to a visit, settings should ensure that parents and carers are aware:

  • how this impacts them and their responsibilities during their visit
  • how to maintain social distancing from staff, other visitors, and children other than those in their care

Parents settling children

Guidance from PHE outlines how parents and carers are able to enter a setting to help their children adapt to their new environment. Settings should ensure that parents and carers:

  • wear face coverings, if required, in line with arrangements for staff and other visitors to the setting (see section 3 on face coverings)
  • stay for a limited amount of time (ideally not more than an hour)
  • avoid close contact with other children
  • are aware of the system of controls, how this impacts them, and their responsibilities in supporting it when visiting a setting with their child

Section 3 of this guidance includes details on the system of controls. It is important to explain these expectations, verbally or in writing, to parents and carers before or on arrival at a setting.

Other visits by parents and carers

Parents and carers should not be allowed into the setting unless there is a specific need.

Children should be dropped off and collected at the door, if possible.

Stay and play sessions, such as where the purpose is for parent and carers to meet each other, should not take place at the setting.

Guidance on parents and carers coming into the setting for organised performances can be found in the music, dance and drama section of this guidance.

External professionals

In instances where settings need to use other essential professionals such as social workers, speech and language therapists or counsellors, or other professionals to support delivery of a child’s EHC plan, settings should assess whether the professionals need to attend in person or can do so virtually.

If they need to attend in person, they should:

  • follow guidance relevant to the setting
  • keep the number of attendances to a minimum
  • wash hands frequently
  • where possible to do so, maintain social distancing

See further details on the system of controls (section 3 of this guidance).

Other visitors

Settings should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors, and ensure site guidance on social distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of setting hours, a record should be kept of all visitors where this is practical which follows the guidance on maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace.

Sessions in settings that use external providers, which are not directly required for children’s health and wellbeing, should be suspended. Guidance on visits from music, dance and drama peripatetic teachers can be found in section 3 of this guidance.

The presence of any additional members of staff should be agreed on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis, to limit contacts, where possible.

Ventilation critical in reducing aerosol transmission of COVID-19

Recent evidence is increasingly pointing to the significance of aerosol transmission (droplets in the air) of COVID-19. This has implications for education and childcare settings.

The article linked to below provides an overview of the current evidence.

The key message is that ventilation plays a very important role in reducing spread and steps should be taken to ensure rooms are well ventilated during and between sessions.