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Coronavirus: What parents and carers need to know about early years providers in the Autumn term

It has been advised by the government that children will be returning into nurseries and schools from September 2020.

Coronavirus has decreased in the number of cases since schools and colleges restricted the number of children in March 2020, the NHS Test and trace system is up and running. Now, people understand more about what measures to take to create a safer environment for the children and staff. As a result, schools have now been advised to open in the new academic term.

The scientific evidence shows that children are at a lower risk in presenting signs and symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) compared to adults of becoming severely ill. There is no significant evidence to suggested that children transmit the disease any more than adults. As Coronavirus remains within the community, its is vital that safety measures are put in place to lower the risk for Children and adults entering the building through protective wear, washing of hands thoroughly and teaching the children about how to protect themselves.

Nurseries have been open from the 1st of June 2020, with children returning as usual practice in smaller groups.

The attendance in nurseries, childminder and other early years providers does remain optional. Nurseries and childminders provide a stimulating fun environment for children to learn and have fun socially with their friends. This overall will provide children the benefit in their well being, development. Early years education is an important stage for children where they can flourish and get the best start in life.

School Attendance:

It is important for children and young people to return to nurseries, school and college for their progression, well being and for the wider development.

From September 2020, schools and college will be mandatory for all children. For parents and carers of children of compulsory school age, this means that the legal duty on you as a parent to send your child to school regularly will apply.

Where children are not able to attend school as parents are following clinical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.

If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college due to the risk factor, please speak with the school, nurseries, or college to discuss what measures they are putting in place.

Ultimately, local authorities and schools have a range of legal powers to enforce attendance if a child or young person misses school without a valid reason.

How everyone can help make schools and colleges as safe as possible

  • Ensuring that anyone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or has someone in their household who does, does not attend nursery, school or college – this means if your child, or someone in your household, has symptoms you should not send them to nursery, school or college

  • Engaging with the NHS Test and Trace process so that cases can be identified and action taken – this means if your child develops symptoms, you should arrange for them to get a test and you should inform your school or college of the results of that test.

Alongside this, the government is asking schools and colleges to ensure they are:

  • Managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the school or college, in line with current public health guidance – this means your child may be asked to self-isolate for 14 days by their school or college (based on advice from their local health protection teams) if they have been in close, face-to-face contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus

  • Ensuring everyone at the school or college cleans their hands more often than usual, including when they arrive at school or college, when they return from breaks, and before and after eating – this can be done with soap and running water or hand sanitiser.

  • Ensuring good respiratory hygiene, by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

  • Enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often.

  • Minimising contact and maintaining distance, as far as possible – schools and colleges will decide how best to do this, as it will be different for each setting, but in broad terms, it will involve asking children to stay within specified separate groups (or bubbles), and through maintaining distance between individuals. The government’s guidance to schools recognises that younger children may not be able to maintain social distancing so it is likely that for younger children the emphasis will be on separating groups, and for older children, it will be on distancing.

Arriving and leaving school or college

  • schools will stagger and adjust their start and finishing times to help keep the groups apart on the way to and from schools.

  • Your school or college will be in touch to set out any changes it is making. This might also include new processes for drop off and collection.

  • Where possible, children and young people are encouraged to avoid public transport, particularly at peak times, and to walk or cycle to school or college.

  • Where your child relies on public transport to get to school or college, and cannot walk or cycle, the safer travel guidance for passengers will apply.

  • Face covering is already mandatory on public transport.

  • Children will be required to wash their hands immediately on arrival at schools and nurseries, dispose of any temporary face coverings they may have been wearing in a covered bin, or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them, and then wash their hands again before heading to their classroom.


Schools are encouraged to return to their usual uniform policies from Sept 2020. Uniforms do not need to be cleaned any more often than usual, or in any different way to normal due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

School food

School and college kitchens should be fully open from the start of the new term and they will provide free school meals and universal infant free school meals as usual for those who are eligible.

If a school or college experiences an outbreak, either because they have 2 or more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) among pupils or staff in their setting within 14 days, or they see an increase in pupil or staff absence rates due to suspected or confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), they will need to contact their local health protection team. This team will advise if additional action is required, though the closure of the whole school or college will generally not be necessary.

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