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What is this?

This “Action Card” provides advice on measures that are likely to be reasonable to take to minimise the risk of coronavirus in Childcare settings.

It should be used in conjunction with current Welsh Government regulations, other (more general) guidance, as well as the Childcare and Playwork Guidance.

Context

  • This Action Card relates to the measures those responsible for Childcare Settings, must take by law, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The settings / provision include childminders, full day care settings and sessional day care settings e.g. day nurseries, children centres, playgroups, cylchoedd meithrin and out of school childcare..
  • Those responsible for these services are required to take reasonable measures to minimise the risk of people being exposed to coronavirus, and spreading the virus.
  • As a basis for deciding what measures should be taken, they must also carry out a specific assessment of the risk posed by the coronavirus.
  • The Action Card highlights risks generally associated with these settings and considers what reasonable measures could to be taken to mitigate those risks.
  • This is not an exhaustive list and other reasonable measures not referred to below may be appropriate. Further information can be found in the Childcare and Playwork Guidance. This guidance also includes advice for nannies and families employing nannies.
  • If you have questions or concerns please seek advice from your local authority’s environmental health department as soon as possible. Please be aware and respectful of the fact that their role is to ensure that appropriate reasonable measures are taken so that your setting can operate as safely as possible. However, it is not their role to approve your risk assessment.

Specific risks in these settings

As with all premises where people from different households come together, there are risks of spreading coronavirus associated with childcare settings.  Childcare settings have remained open throughout the pandemic, only being asked to limit their services in the initial stages of response, recognising the value of high-quality childcare for child development.  The diverse nature of the childcare sector, encompassing care provided on domestic and non-domestic premises and for different numbers of children, means the risks will vary from venue to venue.

While the risks for settings will depend on the activities being undertaken at the premises and the number of people present, the following risks will be typical:

  • close physical interaction, particularly in relation to the care of younger children or queuing in close proximity to others before entry and while inside, for example at the reception area, lifts, toilets, cloakrooms etc; 
  • potential for poor ventilation, which is particularly problematic where people spend prolonged periods together indoors;
  • increased likelihood of mixing and face to face interaction.

What reasonable measures should I consider taking to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus?

While it is unlikely to be possible to mitigate the risks completely in settings of this nature, some measures are reasonable to take, so must be taken.

You should consider whether the following measures are reasonable to take. The measures you take should be informed by your assessment of the risk of coronavirus spreading from use of your premises/vehicles and tailored to your specific circumstances. The Welsh Government has produced a standard template for coronavirus risk assessments, and there is further information available to support you provided by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Reduce the chance of coronavirus being present

  • Encourage staff to receive both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, plus boosters when available.
  • Encourage staff to undertake twice weekly Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing.
  • If a member of staff or visitor becomes unwell or symptomatic while attending the setting they should leave the setting immediately and follow the advice on Test, Trace, Protect, including self-isolating and arranging a test. 
  • Staff or visitors who are symptomatic or have tested positive for COVID-19 must not attend the setting (or if a childminder, continue their services) and must strictly follow the self-isolation guidance
  • It is no longer recommended that children under 5 with COVID-19 symptoms undertake a test unless directed to do so by a doctor or if parents believe a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child. Symptomatic children under 5 should remain at home until they are well enough to return to the setting
  • Where one member of a household has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive, others in that household who are fully vaccinated or aged 5 to 17 should self-isolate and take a PCR test. If the test is negative, isolation can end. Household contacts who are not fully vaccinated should  self-isolate for 10 days. A PCR test should be taken on day 2 and day 8. The individual should self-isolate for 10 days even if the test results are negative. Children aged under 5 do not have to self-isolate or take a test if they have been a contact of a positive case in their household or otherwise.
  • There may be circumstances where a child or adult who would normally be exempt is directed to self-isolate by TTP.  These circumstances will be identified by TTP on a case by case basis. Childminders may be asked not to provide childminding services if they operate from their home in which a positive case is self-isolating. 

Prevent crowding

  • Limiting numbers or controlling movement of people so that where possible children, staff and visitors can safely distance themselves from others. For example use one way systems to enter or walk around the premises if necessary and control the movement of children or staff coming together in confined areas such as toilets. 
  • Maintain social distancing between staff both during and outside of sessions, where possible.  While it is generally accepted very young children are not good at distancing and staff cannot provide appropriate care if they distance from children, staff should still try to distance from one another.
  • Controlling entry and exit points to prevent people gathering in areas where social distancing is difficult.
  • Limit number of visitors to the setting / provision and use other methods (video, phone) where possible.

Improve your ventilation or go outside

  • Encouraging use of outdoor space where this is available. 
  • Enhancing airflow by opening windows and propping open internal doors (but not fire doors) where possible and where safe to do so.  As children will be in attendance at these premises there will be some premises where opening windows or doors may increase the risk of children injuring themselves or leaving the premises unsupervised, so this should form part of any risk assessment.
  • If there is a lack of natural ventilation, ensuring mechanical ventilation systems provide 100% fresh air and do not recirculate air from one space to another.
  • Make sure mechanical ventilation systems are effectively maintained and have been serviced.
  • Monitoring CO2 levels to identify areas where ventilation may be poor.

Keep your premises clean

  • Thorough and regular cleaning using disinfectant in high footfall areas and in high contact touchpoints such as counter tops, tables and door handles.
  • Placing hand sanitisers in multiple locations, particularly at entry points and elsewhere at key touchpoints, and providing automated soap dispensers, water and paper towels in washrooms.
  • Regular hand washing for children and staff.
  • Regular and effective cleaning regimes as outlined in Infection Prevention and Control Guidance for Childcare Settings
  • Prevent the sharing of food, drink, utensils, and where possible equipment and toys.

Look after your staff

  • Implementing systems to minimise contacts between staff. For example, stagger staff shifts, break times and deliveries; set a maximum number for kitchens, staff rooms, changing rooms and areas such as smoking shelters.
  • Providing staff with face coverings or other PPE if necessary (see Childcare and Playwork Guidance for further advice).
  • Facilitating (and not preventing) members of staff who have symptoms, test positive or who have been asked to self isolate by Test Trace Protect. Self-isolating when a person has tested positive is required by law.

Help Test, Trace, Protect

Communicate

You have a legal obligation to provide information to those entering or working at your premises about how to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. This includes, in particular, information to all those present about their risk of exposure to coronavirus identified in the risk assessment and the measures to be taken at the premises to minimise this risk.

This could include announcements, clear signage (e.g. signs, floor tape or paint) to limit the number of people present in a particular area or vehicle, queuing systems and one way systems.

Links to key guidance

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