Education and childcare settings: national restrictions from 5 November 2020
(updated 17th November 2020)
The government continues to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our children and young people and will not be closing early years settings, schools, further education (FE) providers or universities.
It remains very important for children and young people to attend, to support their wellbeing and education and help working parents and guardians. Senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to make them safe.
Childcare or education is one of the exceptions that children, young people and parents and carers can leave their home for.
Education settings and childcare settings must continue to take swift action when they become aware of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in their setting. Early years settings, schools, colleges and out of schools settings can contact the dedicated advice service introduced by Public Health England (PHE) and delivered by the NHS Business Services Authority for support on the action they should take to respond to a positive case.
The advice service can be reached by calling the DfE helpline on 0800 046 8687 and selecting option 1 for advice on the action to take in response to a positive case. Callers will be put through to a team of advisers who will inform them of what action is needed based on the latest public health advice. Any general queries relating to coronavirus and education and childcare settings should select option 3 or 4.
Early years and childcare
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare for the duration of the national restrictions:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
Early years providers’ access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme remains as published.
In early years settings, there is no change to the existing position. It is not mandatory for staff and visitors to wear face coverings.
In situations indoors where social distancing between adults in settings is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas), settings have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site, for both staff and visitors whilst acknowledging some individuals may be exempt.
Journeys should only be made:
If it is necessary to travel, those travelling are encouraged to walk where possible and to plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow people travelling to maintain social distancing.
If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school and walking is not practical, then a private vehicle for single household use is preferable. Use of public transport should be minimised.
Visitors to the setting
Settings should restrict all visits to the setting to those that are absolutely necessary. Visits that allow a vulnerable child to meet a social worker, key worker or other necessary support should continue on site.
Out-of-school activities and wraparound childcare
Out-of-school activities (including wraparound care) may continue to operate. However, parents may only access these settings where this is reasonably necessary to enable them to:
Parents may also continue to use out-of-school activities for the purposes of respite care, including for vulnerable children.
Home educating parents may also continue to use out-of-school activities that are primarily used as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education. This could include, for example:
Youth support services, including 1-1 youth work and support groups, may also continue to operate.
Providers of out-of-school activities that continue to operate for face-to-face provision during this period should ensure that they make parents aware that their setting should only be accessed for the essential purposes outlined.
These settings should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in the . Providers of youth services and activities should also refer to the National Youth Agency’s , where it is relevant to do so.
All other out of school activities, not being primarily used by parents for these purposes, should close for face-to-face provision for the duration of the national restrictions.
In out-of-school settings, face coverings should be used where it is a requirement of the indoor setting and where the teaching, training or activity is taking place in an area in which children aged 11 and over or staff are likely to come into contact with other members of the public.
Face coverings should be worn by adults and children aged 11 and above when moving around the premises indoors, outside of classrooms or activity rooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained.
Some individuals are and we expect settings to be sensitive to those needs and to be aware that the reasons for this may not be visible to others. This may include, but is not limited to, those who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment or disability. Or those who are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate.
Parents or carers of disabled children may continue to access respite care to support them in caring for their disabled child. Where activities are being provided solely for this purpose, they are able to continue.
Out-of-school activities that are primarily used by home educating parents as part of their arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education can continue to operate.
These may include, for example:
Clinically extremely vulnerable children and staff
More evidence has emerged that shows there is a very low risk of children becoming very unwell from coronavirus (COVID-19), even for children with existing health conditions. Most children originally identified as clinically extremely vulnerable no longer need to follow original shielding advice. Parents should be advised to speak to their child’s GP or specialist clinician if they have not already done so, to understand whether their child should still be classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
Those children whose doctors have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend out-of-school settings during the period this advice is in place. Where a meeting with a GP or specialist clinician has not taken place, the public health advice is that the child is still clinically extremely vulnerable and should not attend the setting.
Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, can still attend out-of-school settings.
Parents of clinically extremely vulnerable children will have received a letter confirming this advice.
Those individuals who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home and not to go into work. Individuals in this group will have been identified through a letter from the NHS or from their GP and may have been advised to shield in the past. Staff should talk to their employers about how they will be supported, including to work from home where possible, during the period of national restrictions. Out-of-school settings should continue to pay clinically extremely vulnerable staff on their usual terms.
All other staff should continue to attend work, including those living in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
Clinically vulnerable staff and children
Staff and children who are clinically vulnerable or have underlying health conditions but are not clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend out-of-school settings in line with current guidance.
Schools continue to remain open and allow all children and young people to attend as they have since the start of the autumn term for the duration of the national restrictions.
Being at school is vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time spent out of school is detrimental to children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of education, and children’s future ability to learn. It continues to be our aim that all pupils, in all year groups, remain in school full-time.
We have previously asked schools with secondary year groups to plan a rota system as part of education tier 2 of the , however during the period of national restrictions schools should continue to allow unrestricted attendance.
The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. For the vast majority of children, the benefits of being back in the classroom far outweigh the low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) and schools can take action to reduce risks still further.
Schools should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls set out in this guidance. These measures provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for pupils and staff. If schools follow the guidance and maximise control measures, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively.
Schools and colleges can and should be continuing to offer before and after school or college activities and clubs for their pupils, in order to enable parents to work, seek work, or to undertake education or training, and for the purposes of respite care (for vulnerable children). This includes activities and clubs related to PE, sport, music, dance and drama.
Schools may also continue to use external providers to offer these activities but should make sure that they operate within the protective measures outlined in the relevant government guidance, such as the and .
Music, dance and drama
Schools may also continue to offer before and after school educational provision to their pupils (including PE, sport, music, dance and drama), and may also provide other supervised activities for children where it is reasonably necessary. This to enable their parents or carers to work, seek work attend education or training, or where the provision is to support respite care (for vulnerable children). Where schools are offering these activities they should advise parents that they should only be using them for these purposes.