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Return to Early Learning Childcare (ELC) FAQs

Return to Early Learning Childcare (ELC) FAQs

Information on return to term time Early Learning Childcare(ELC) provision: Wednesday 18th August

As term time Clackmannanshire ELC settings return in August, parents and  carers are being urged to make sure they are familiar with the guidance in place to keep everyone safe.

What arrangements will remain in place when ELC resume in August?

Most arrangements to reduce the risk of Covid-19 will remain in place with no modification or only minor modification when term time ELC provision resumes in August.  

What arrangements will change when ELC Settings resume in August?

Some changes will be made, including new advice on:

  • Vaccination
  • Self-Isolation, Contact Tracing and Testing
  • Groupings and Bubbles/Pods
  • Drama, Music, PE and Dance
  • Ventilation

What is the advice on vaccination?

All ELC settings will encourage staff who have not received both doses of vaccinations to seek vaccination as soon possible.

What should I do if I develop symptoms or test positive?

Staff and children who develop symptoms or test positive must still self-isolate immediately.  Staff and children will be strongly encouraged to inform their ELC setting of any positive test when reporting absences.

Is there any change to testing?

  • Staff who are fully vaccinated should ensure they continue to test twice weekly using Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs), which can be accessed via their schools.
  • After 6 weeks, once all staff have had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, and subject to evidence around implementation of the updated self-isolation policy for children and young people, the asymptomatic testing programme will be reviewed.

Self Isolation

From 9th Aug Adults (18+) who are fully vaccinated and are identified as close contacts of positive cases should:

  • Self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test. They should continue to self-isolate while awaiting their results;
  • If the test is positive, they should continue to self-isolate in line with NHS guidance. This states that they should remain at home and should not go to work, school, public areas or use public transport. They should not go out to buy food or other essentials;
  • If the test is negative and the close contact remains without symptoms, they may end self isolation and resume their daily lives, even if they have ongoing contact with the index case (e.g. a household member).
  • Close contacts should remain vigilant and if symptoms newly develop at any time, they must follow NHS guidance, self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test.

From 9th August, people older than 18 years and 4 months, who are not yet vaccinated or who have only had a single dose of the vaccine, should:

  • Self-isolate immediately for 10 days from symptom onset in the symptomatic person and book a PCR test;
  • If the test is positive, they should continue to self-isolate in line with NHS guidance.
  • If the test is negative, still continue to self-isolate in line with NHS guidance. This is because a test cannot indicate whether someone is incubating the disease, and therefore may go on to develop it after a test is taken.

From 9th August, there will be no blanket requirement for children aged under 5 who are close contacts of positive cases to self-isolate. This applies regardless of whether the close contact is with a case in the ELC setting, household or elsewhere.

While advice should recommend a PCR test where possible for under 5s, their exemption from self-isolation requirements should not be made conditional on this.

Please note a standard letter will be issued by the centre regarding self-isolation protocols which should be forwarded to all families.

Will pods/bubbles still be required to isolate ? - Contact Tracing

  • The approach of requiring whole groupings of children to self-isolate as close contacts will no longer be followed in normal circumstances.
  • However, to ensure that any potential lower risk contacts in the ELC environment are provided with public health advice on vigilance for symptoms and other key matters, ELC settings should send “warn and inform” letters to staff and  parents/carers when they are made aware of a positive case. Those lower-risk potential contacts in the ELC environment will not be advised to self-isolate or seek a PCR test.
  • A ‘warn and inform’ template letter will be made available to all establishments to support this approach.
  • The expectation is that ELC settings will continue to need to identify close contacts of positive cases within the ELC setting.  Procedures for dealing with positive notifications or symptoms in ELC remain the same.

Will pupils still be kept in groupings or bubbles?

  • Groupings (sometimes referred to as “bubbles” or “pods”) are no longer required to be maintained in ELC settings.
  • ELC settings should, however, continue to avoid large group gatherings. 
  • Consideration should be given to continuing with staggered starts, breaks, lunchtimes and finishing times, provided that this does not affect the learning experience for children.  The recommendation is that the same model as previously should continue for 6 weeks, including lunch provision.
  • Arrangements for whole staff meetings should continue for the first six weeks.

Is physical distancing still required?

  • Physical distancing between adults remains a fundamental protective measure that should apply at all times. Individual physical distancing applies to staff, parents and carers (and any other adults who may attend the setting), older siblings and any external contractors or delivery people.
  • The physical distancing requirement for adults in ELC settings will be at least 1 metre. If settings already have 2 metre physical distancing arrangements that work well and do not limit capacity then they may retain these for logistical reasons.
  • Retaining 2 metres between adults who do not yet meet the criteria for exemption from self-isolation will help to reduce the risk that they are identified as a close contact

Are visitors allowed in ELC settings?

  • Visits by specialist staff and tradespeople should be included in the setting’s risk assessment.
  • Specialist visitors should maintain appropriate physical distance from staff in the setting.
  • If the visit takes place indoors, ensure that the physical distancing requirements can be strictly adhered to, the meeting space is well ventilated, face coverings are worn and that there is a supply of alcohol based hand rub available to visitors at the entrance to the setting.
  • Visits should be with the permission of the manager or head teacher.
  • In Clackmannanshire, peripatetic staff can visit a maximum of four ELC settings per week with no more than two ELC settings per day for the first six weeks.  In exceptional circumstances, if there is a need for more ELC settings to be visited by an individual this can only be undertaken once a separate risk assessment has been completed.

Can parents/carers visit the setting?

  • Visits by parents/carers are be permitted when planned in advance but should be limited to up to three households at a time or per day if they are indoors, and up to 10 households at a time or per day if they are outdoors
  • Parents/carers should be encouraged to take part in the universal testing offer prior to entering the setting.
  • Visits by parents/carers must not take place if there is a positive case in the home or an outbreak in the setting

Are there any restrictions on drama, music, PE and dance?

ELC settings should note that, in line with the move to Level 0 and beyond, children and young people can now engage in all drama, music, PE and dance activity both indoors and outdoors

What are the rules on ventilation?

  • There is a requirement for all learning spaces to have the CO2 levels assessed before the October break.  The Property Team are currently sourcing devices to do this and will be responsible for ensuring this is carried out.  Please follow any guidance issued as a result of this.

What is the advice for people in the highest risk group (previously those on the shielding list)?

The Chief Medical Officer's advice to everyone on the list, at Level 0 and Beyond Level 0, is to follow the same advice as the rest of the population.  

Everyone on the highest risk list is encouraged to ask members of their household over 12 to use at-home Lateral Flow Test.

Other Points to note

  • Children should be discouraged from bringing toys from home to the setting. However, settings can share resources (such as story bags) between setting and home – unless there is a positive case in the home or an outbreak in the setting.
  • Soft furnishings (such as throws and bedding) should be laundered in accordance with usual cleaning schedule.
  • If soft furnishings (such as throws and bedding) have been used by a child who shows symptoms of COVID, they should be removed and laundered as quickly as possible.
  • Children are not required to physically distance from each other, or from adults. It is important for children to feel secure and receive warmth and physical contact that is appropriate to their needs, in particular when they are receiving personal care, need comforting or reassurance. Keyworkers will need to be close to the children, particularly young children and should feel confident to do so
  • Face coverings are not required when working directly with children, including on the floor or supporting children to move around the building or with toileting, or as a result of being in close physical proximity to children. However, staff who wish to wear a face covering in these circumstances should be supported to do so.
  • The arrangements for parents to drop off and collect children requires careful consideration, to ensure that large gatherings of people can be avoided, and physical distancing maintained. Physical distancing between staff and other adults (including parents) must be adhered to at all times.