Guidance

COVID-19:

Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Updated information : 27th September 2021 on contingency planning in out-of-school settings, with link to updated contingency framework (see Stepping measures up and down)

Who is this guidance for?

This guidance is for out-of-school setting providers and their staff, who provide, for children:

  • community activities
  • tuition
  • holiday clubs
  • breakfast and after-school clubs for children

It applies to:

There is separate out-of-school settings COVID-19 guidance for parents and carers.

Venue-specific guidance

Out-of-school settings can take place in many kinds of venues, from a private home to more formal places such as community and youth centres, sports clubs, and places of worship. Therefore, if your out-of-school setting takes place in one of the following premises, you should also follow the guidance for:

About this guidance

This guidance explains the actions out-of-school settings should take to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in their settings. This includes public health advice, endorsed by Public Health England (PHE).

We use the terms ‘must’ and ‘should’ throughout the guidance. We use the term ‘must’ when the person in question is legally required to do something and ‘should’ when the advice set out should be followed unless there is good reason not to.

Overview

The government continues to manage the risk of serious illness from the spread of the virus. We have moved away from stringent restrictions on everyone’s day-to-day lives, towards advising people on how to protect themselves and others, alongside targeted interventions to reduce risk.

As COVID-19 becomes a virus that we learn to live with, there is now an imperative to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s education – particularly given that:

  • the direct clinical risks to children are extremely low
  • every adult has been offered the opportunity for 2 doses of the vaccine
  • all children aged 12 and over are now eligible for vaccination

However, as set out in the autumn and winter plan, the government will remain vigilant and take action where necessary to support and protect the NHS.

Our priority is for you to deliver face-to-face, high-quality provision to all children.

We have worked closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) to revise this guidance.

Who can attend your setting

Out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare providers can offer provision to all children, without restriction on the reasons for which they may attend.

Home education

Where a child who is electively home educated takes part in an out-of-school setting, this guidance will apply. This is the case regardless of whether the setting is attended solely by children who are electively home educated or a combination of children attending school and children being home educated.

All children who are electively home educated may attend out-of-school settings.

Staff and workforce

Out-of-school setting leaders are best placed to determine the workforce required to meet the needs of the children in attendance.

Contractors

You should ensure that key contractors are aware of your setting’s control measures and ways of working.

Clinically extremely vulnerable

Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people are advised, as a minimum, to follow the same guidance as everyone else. It is important that everyone adheres to this guidance, but CEV people may wish to think particularly carefully about the additional precautions they can continue to take. Further information can be found in the 19 July guidance on protecting people who are CEV from COVID-19.

Social distancing measures have now ended in the workplace and it is no longer necessary for the government to instruct people to work from home. Employers should be able to explain the measures they have in place to keep CEV staff safe at work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance on protecting vulnerable workers, including advice for employers and employees on how to talk about reducing risks in the workplace.

We welcome your support in encouraging vaccine take up and enabling staff who are eligible for a vaccination to attend booked vaccine appointments where possible.

All CEV children and young people should attend their education or childcare setting unless they are one of the very small number of children and young people under paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their clinician or other specialist not to attend.

Vaccinations for children

All children aged 12 and over are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Those aged 12 to 17 are eligible for a first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, although 12 to 17 year olds with certain medical conditions that make them more at risk of serious illness, or who are living with someone who is immunosuppressed, are eligible for 2 doses. These children will be contacted by a local NHS service such as their GP surgery to arrange their appointments. All other 12 to 15 year olds will be offered the vaccine via the school-based programme.

Young people aged 16 to 17 will be invited to a local NHS service such as a GP surgery or can access the vaccine via some walk-in COVID-19 vaccination sites.

You can find out more about the in-school vaccination programme in COVID-19 vaccination programme for children and young people: guidance for schools.

Group sizes

Wraparound childcare and other organised activities for children may take place in groups of any number.

Group sizes for children under 5

Providers caring for children:

Risk assessment

As a provider, you are likely to have a legal duty of care to try to ensure the environment is safe for people who visit or attend. This means you have a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that people will be safe using the venue for the purposes for which they attend, including regularly reviewing and updating your risk assessments – treating them as ‘living documents’, as the circumstances in your setting and the public health advice changes. This should include procedures on what to do if a child or staff member develops symptoms while at your setting (for more information see When an individual develops COVID-19 symptoms or has a positive test) and having active arrangements in place to monitor whether the controls are effective and working as planned.

For more information on what is required of out-of-school setting leaders in relation to health and safety risk assessments and managing risk see Health and safety: advice for schools and Keeping children safe during community activities, after-school clubs and tuition.

Mixing and ‘bubbles’

We are no longer recommending that it is necessary to keep children in consistent groups (‘bubbles’). This means that bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision or from the autumn term.

You should make sure your contingency plans (outbreak management plans) cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ for a temporary period, to reduce mixing between groups.

Any decision to recommend the reintroduction of ‘bubbles’ should not be taken lightly and would need to take account of the detrimental impact they can have on the delivery of education.

Tracing close contacts and self-isolation

Close contacts will be identified via NHS Test and Trace and out-of-school settings will not be expected to undertake contact tracing. As with positive cases in any other setting, NHS Test and Trace will work with the positive case and/or their parent to identify close contacts. Contacts from an out-of-school setting will only be traced by NHS Test and Trace where the positive case specifically identifies the individual as being a close contact. This is likely to be a small number of individuals who would be most at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of the close contact. You may be contacted in exceptional cases to help with identifying close contacts, as currently happens in managing other infectious diseases.

Self-isolation

Individuals are not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:

  • they are fully vaccinated
  • they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
  • they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test. We would encourage everyone to take a PCR test if advised to do so.

Staff who do not need to self-isolate, and children and young people aged under 18 years and 6 months, who usually attend an out-of-school setting, and have been identified as a close contact, can continue to attend the setting as normal. They do not need to wear a face covering within the setting, but it is expected and recommended that they wear one when travelling on public or dedicated transport.

Further information is available in NHS Test and Trace: what to do if you are contactedand in the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

People aged 18 will be treated in the same way as children, until 6 months after their 18th birthday. This will allow them the opportunity to get fully vaccinated, at which point they will be subject to the same rules as adults. If they choose not to get vaccinated, they will need to self-isolate if identified as a close contact.

Settings will continue to have a role in working with health protection teams in the case of a local outbreak. If there is a substantial increase in the number of positive cases in a setting (for more information, see Stepping measures up and down) or if central government offers the area an enhanced response package, a director of public health might advise a setting to temporarily reintroduce some control measures.

Face coverings

Face coverings are no longer advised for children, parents, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas.

The government has removed the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.

If you have a substantial increase in the number of positive cases in your setting (for more information, see Stepping measures up and down), a director of public health might advise you that face coverings should temporarily be worn in communal areas or classrooms (by children, staff and visitors, unless exempt). You should make sure your contingency plans cover this possibility.

In these circumstances, transparent face coverings, which may assist communication with someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate, can also be worn. Transparent face coverings may be effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. However, the evidence to support this is currently very limited. Face coverings (whether transparent or cloth) should fit securely around the face to cover the nose and mouth and be made with a breathable material capable of filtering airborne particles.

The main benefit from a transparent face covering is that they can aid communication, for example enabling lip-reading or allowing for the full visibility of facial expressions, but this should be considered alongside the comfort and breathability of a face covering that contains plastic, which may mean that the face covering is less breathable than layers of cloth.

Face visors or shields can be worn by those exempt from wearing a face covering but they are not an equivalent alternative in terms of source control of virus transmission. They may protect the wearer against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in preventing the escape of smaller respiratory particles when used without an additional face covering. They should only be used after carrying out a risk assessment for the specific situation and should always be cleaned appropriately.

The use of face coverings may have a particular impact on those who rely on visual signals for communication. Those who communicate with or provide support to those who do, are exempt from any recommendation to wear face coverings in education and childcare settings.

Where appropriate, you should discuss with children and parents the types of reasonable adjustments that are being considered to support an individual.

No child should be denied education or childcare on the grounds of whether they are, or are not, wearing a face covering.

Stepping measures up and down

You should have contingency plans (sometimes called outbreak management plans) outlining what you would do if children or staff test positive for COVID-19, or how you would operate if you were advised to take extra measures to help break chains of transmission. Given the detrimental impact that restrictions on education and childcare can have on children and young people, any measures in out-of-school settings should only ever be considered as a last resort, kept to the minimum number of settings or groups possible, and for the shortest amount of time possible.

Central government may offer local areas of particular concern an enhanced response package to help limit increases in transmission.

For most settings it will make sense to think about taking extra action if the number of positive cases substantially increases. Information on what circumstances might lead you to consider taking additional action, and the steps you should work through, can be found in the contingency framework.

The contingency framework describes the principles of managing local outbreaks of COVID-19 in education and childcare settings. Local authorities, directors of public health (DsPH) and PHE health protection teams (HPTs) can recommend measures described in the contingency framework in individual education and childcare settings – or a small cluster of settings – as part of their outbreak management responsibilities.

Control measures

You should:

  1. Ensure good hygiene for everyone
  2. Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes, using standard products such as detergents
  3. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated
  4. Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19

1. Ensure good hygiene for everyone

Hand hygiene

Frequent and thorough hand cleaning should now be regular practice. You should continue to ensure that children clean their hands regularly. This can be done with soap and water or hand sanitiser.

Respiratory hygiene

The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach continues to be very important.

The e-Bug COVID-19 website contains free resources, including materials to encourage good hand and respiratory hygiene.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Most staff in out-of-school settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. The guidance on the use of PPE in education, childcare and children’s social care settings provides more information on the use of PPE for COVID-19.

2. Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes, using standard products, such as detergents

You should put in place and maintain an appropriate cleaning schedule. This should include regular cleaning of areas and equipment (for example, twice per day), with a particular focus on frequently touched surfaces. PHE has published guidance on the cleaning of non-healthcare settings.

3. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated

When your setting is in operation, it is important to ensure it is well ventilated and that a comfortable childcare or learning environment is maintained.

You should identify any poorly ventilated spaces as part of your risk assessment and take steps to improve fresh air flow in these areas, giving particular consideration when holding events where visitors such as parents are on site, for example performances.

Mechanical ventilation is a system that uses a fan to draw fresh air, or extract air from a room. These should be adjusted to increase the ventilation rate wherever possible and checked to confirm that normal operation meets current guidance and that only fresh outside air is circulated.

If possible, systems should be adjusted to full fresh air or, if this is not possible, then systems should be operated as normal as long as they are within a single room and supplemented by an outdoor air supply.

Where mechanical ventilation systems exist, you should ensure that they are maintained in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations.

Opening external windows can improve natural ventilation, and in addition, opening internal doors can also assist with creating a throughput of air. If necessary, external opening doors may also be used (if they are not fire doors and where safe to do so).

You should balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature.

The Health and Safety Executive guidance on air conditioning and ventilation during the coronavirus outbreak and CIBSE COVID-19 advice provides more information.

CO2 monitors will also be provided to all state-funded education settings from September, so staff can quickly identify where ventilation needs to be improved. Further information will be issued as monitors are rolled out.

The government has also launched a trial of air purifiers in 30 schools in Bradford, which is designed to assess the technology in education settings and whether they could reduce the risk of transmission.

4. Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19

When an individual develops COVID-19 symptoms or has a positive test

Children, staff and other adults should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do. They should not come into your setting if they have symptoms or other reasons requiring them to stay at home due to the risk of them passing on COVID-19 (for example they are required to quarantine or have a positive test).

If anyone in your setting develops COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, you should send them home and they should follow public health advice.

For everyone with symptoms, they should avoid using public transport and, wherever possible, be collected by a member of their family or household.

If a child is awaiting collection, they should be left in a room on their own if possible and safe to do so. A window should be opened for fresh air ventilation if possible. Appropriate PPE should also be used if close contact is necessary, further information on this can be found in the use of PPE guidance. Any rooms they use should be cleaned after they have left.

The household (including any siblings) should follow the PHE stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Asymptomatic testing

Testing remains important in reducing the risk of transmission of infection within settings. That is why, whilst some measures are relaxed, others will remain, and if necessary, in response to the latest epidemiological data, we all need to be prepared to step measures up or down in future depending on local circumstances.

Over the summer, staff and secondary age children should continue to test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open.

If you are operating on or linked to a school, you may wish to discuss with that school how your staff can continue to access regular asymptomatic testing via this route. Schools will not provide tests for twice weekly asymptomatic testing for pupils over the summer period unless they are taking part in school-run out-of-school activities.

However, testing is widely available for all settings operating on and away from school sties. Staff and secondary age children can collect home test kits either from their local pharmacy or by ordering coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests online. You should communicate this to staff, secondary age children and parents.

There is no need for primary age children (those in year 6 and below) to test over the summer period. They will be offered the 2 tests at an ATS at the beginning of the autumn term when they start at their secondary school as a new year 7. Schools may choose, however, to start testing year 6 pupils earlier, including in summer schools, depending on their local circumstances.

Confirmatory PCR tests

Staff and children with a positive LFD test result should self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance. They will also need to get a free PCR test to check if they have COVID-19.

Whilst awaiting the PCR result, the individual should continue to self-isolate.

If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD test and the child or staff member can return to your setting, as long as the individual doesn’t have COVID-19 symptoms.

Admitting children back to your setting

In most cases, parents and carers will agree that a child with symptoms should not attend your setting, given the potential risk to others. If a parent or carer insists on a child attending your setting, you can take the decision to refuse the child if, in your reasonable judgement, it is necessary to protect other children and staff from possible infection with COVID-19. Your decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and current public health advice.

Safety measures for activities in out-of-school settings

Parental attendance

We no longer advise that providers limit the attendance of parents and carers at sessions. You should continue to ensure that you have parents’ and carers’ most up-to-date contact details in case of an emergency.

School Wrap continue to limit the number of adults entering Wrap Rooms to prevent the risk of infection. Team Wrap step outside to meet parents and carers with children to sign them in. After school, Team Wrap bring children downstairs for parents and carers to sign children out safely.

Safeguarding

It is important that you and your staff are aware of safeguarding issues and the signs to look out for. Further information is available in the guidance for keeping children safe during community activities, after-school clubs and tuition.

System of controls: infection protection and control

In this section, where something is essential for public health reasons, as advised by Public Health England (PHE), we have said ‘must’. Where there is a legal requirement we have made that clear. This guidance does not create any new legal obligations.

This is the set of essential public health actions you must take. They are grouped into ‘prevention’ and ‘response to any infection’. If you follow the system of controls, you will effectively reduce risks in your setting and create an inherently safer environment.

These measures will be reviewed in partnership with health experts to decide whether evidence suggests that these measures can be eased ahead of the summer holidays.

Additional measures for children or staff may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular localised outbreaks, including variants of concern. In all cases, any educational or wellbeing drawbacks should be balanced with the benefits of managing transmission.

These measures are detailed within the contingency framework for education and childcare which describes how education and childcare settings should plan for spikes in infection in their local areas. All education and childcare settings should have outbreak management plans outlining how they would operate if any of the measures described within the contingency framework were recommended in their area.

Prevention

Providers (including their staff where applicable) must always:

1. Prevent contact with individuals who are required to self-isolate by ensuring they do not attend your setting.

2. Ensure face coverings are used in recommended circumstances.

3. Ensure everyone is advised to clean their hands thoroughly and more often than usual.

4. Ensure good respiratory hygiene for everyone by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

5. Maintain enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents.

6. Consider how to minimise contact across the site and maintain social distancing wherever possible.

7. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated.

In specific circumstances:

8. Ensure individuals wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary.

9. Promote and engage in asymptomatic testing, where available.

Response to any infection

Providers (including their staff where applicable) must always:

10. Promote and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.

11. Manage and report confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the setting community.

12. Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice.

1. Prevent contact with individuals who are required to self-isolate by ensuring they do not attend your setting

Children and young people, staff and other adults must not come into your setting if:

  • they have one or more COVID-19 symptoms
  • a member of their household (including someone in their support bubble or childcare bubble, if they have one) has COVID-19 symptoms or had a positive test
  • they are legally required to quarantine, having recently visited countries outside the common travel area
  • they have had a positive test

When an individual develops COVID-19 symptoms or has a positive test

They must immediately cease to attend and not attend for at least 10 full days from:

  • the start of their symptoms
  • the test date if they did not have any symptoms but have had a positive LFD test (if a PCR test is then taken within 2 days of the positive lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD test and the child or staff member can return to the setting)

You must follow this process and ensure everyone onsite or visiting is aware of it.

Anyone told to isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their public health protection team, has a legal obligation to self-isolate, but you may leave home to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm. Find out more from NHS Test and Trace: how it works

If anyone in your setting develops a new and continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), you:

Other members of their household (including any siblings and members of their support or childcare bubble if they have one) should self-isolate. Their isolation period includes the day symptoms started for the first person in their household and the next 10 full days. If a member of the household starts to display symptoms while self-isolating, they will need to restart the 10-day isolation period and book a test.

If a child in your setting displays symptoms and is awaiting collection, they should:

  • move to a well-ventilated room, if possible, where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision
  • a window should also be opened for ventilation if it is safe to do so
  • stay at least 2 metres away from other people
  • use a separate bathroom if possible, which must be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else

PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.

In an emergency, call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital, unless advised to. Find out how to manage and report confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the out-of-school settings community.

When an individual has had close contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms

Any member of staff who has provided close contact care to someone with symptoms, regardless of whether they are wearing PPE, and all other members of staff or children who have been in close contact with that person, do not need to go home to self-isolate unless:

  • the symptomatic person subsequently tests positive
  • they develop symptoms themselves (in which case, they should self-isolate immediately and arrange to have a test)
  • they are requested to do so by NHS Test and Trace or the Public Health England (PHE) advice service (or PHE local health protection team if escalated), which is a legal obligation
  • they have tested positive from an LFD test as part of a community or worker programme

Everyone must wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and running water or use hand sanitiser after any contact with someone who has symptoms. The area around the person with symptoms must be cleaned after they have left, to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance has more information.

Since 17 May, face coverings are no longer recommended in classrooms and in all communal areas for children in year 7 (or of equivalent age, such as those who were aged 11 on 31 August 2020) and above.

Face coverings are no longer recommended for staff in classrooms.

We continue to recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).

Out-of-school settings should refer to Guidance: Face coverings in education and childcare for information on:

  • the safe wearing and removal of face coverings
  • exemptions
  • possible reasonable adjustments

Out-of-school settings (including private sector wraparound childcare providers) operating in community settings, such as village halls or community centres, must comply with requirements on the use of face coverings in these premises and should follow the guidance on Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.

3. Ensure everyone is advised to clean their hands thoroughly and more often than usual

COVID-19 is an easy virus to kill when it is on skin. This can be done with soap and water or hand sanitiser. You must ensure that children clean their hands regularly, including:

  • when they arrive at your setting
  • when they return from breaks
  • when they change rooms
  • before and after eating

Consider how often children and staff will need to wash their hands and incorporate time in for this. Staff working with children who spit uncontrollably may want more opportunities to wash their hands than other staff. Children who use saliva as a sensory stimulant or who struggle with ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ may also need more opportunities to wash their hands.

Continue to help children with complex needs to clean their hands properly.

Frequent and thorough hand cleaning should now be regular practice. You should consider:

  • whether you have enough hand washing or hand sanitiser stations available so that all children and staff can clean their hands regularly
  • if you need to supervise hand sanitiser use given the risks around ingestion – skin friendly skin cleaning wipes can be used as an alternative
  • building these routines into your setting’s culture, supported by behaviour expectations and helping ensure younger pupils and those with complex needs understand the need to follow them

4. Ensure good respiratory hygiene for everyone by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach

The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach continues to be very important. Make sure enough tissues and bins are available to support children and staff to follow this routine. As with hand cleaning, you must ensure younger children and those with complex needs are helped to get this right, and all pupils understand that this is now part of how the setting operates. e-Bug COVID-19 has free resources for schools, including materials to encourage good hand and respiratory hygiene.

Some children with complex needs will struggle to maintain as good respiratory hygiene as their peers, for example those who spit uncontrollably or use saliva as a sensory stimulant. This should be considered in risk assessments in order to support these children and the staff working with them and is not a reason to deny these children a place at your setting.

5. Maintain enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products, such as detergents

In line with the risk assessment and timetabling of activities in your setting, put in place and maintain an enhanced cleaning schedule. This should include:

  • more frequent cleaning of rooms or shared areas that are used by different groups
  • frequently touched surfaces being cleaned more often than normal
  • cleaning toilets regularly
  • encouraging children to wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet
  • if your site allows it, allocating different groups their own toilet blocks

PHE has published guidance for cleaning non-healthcare settings. This contains advice on the general cleaning required in addition to the existing advice on cleaning when there is a suspected case.

6. Consider how to minimise contact and maintain social distancing across the site wherever possible

Minimising contacts and mixing between people reduces transmission of COVID-19. This is important in all contexts, and you must consider how to implement this.

The overarching principle to apply is reducing the number of contacts between children and staff. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate and consistent – read the section considering group sizes – and through maintaining distance between individuals.

You should encourage children and young people to maintain social distancing as far as possible. This should also be observed by staff members and parents and carers at pick up and drop off.

Staff members and children and young people within the setting, should also maintain social distancing as far as possible.

There will be some situations where social distancing is not possible, for example between younger children or in outdoor sports and activities. Therefore it is important that the other protective measures outlined in this guidance are implemented.

7. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated

Good ventilation reduces the concentration of the virus in the air, which reduces the risks from airborne transmission. This happens when people breathe in small particles (aerosols) in the air after someone with the virus has occupied an enclosed area.

When your setting is in operation, it is important to ensure it is well ventilated and a comfortable childcare or teaching environment is maintained. These can be achieved by a variety of measures including:

  • mechanical ventilation systems – these should be adjusted to increase the ventilation rate wherever possible, and checked to confirm that normal operation meets current guidance and that only fresh outside air is circulated. If possible, systems should be adjusted to full fresh air or, if not, then systems should be operated as normal as long as they are within a single room and supplemented by an outdoor air supply)
  • natural ventilation – opening windows (in cooler weather windows should be opened just enough to provide constant background ventilation, and opened more fully during breaks to purge the air in the space). Opening internal doors can also assist with creating a throughput of air
  • opening external doors if necessary (as long as they are not fire doors and where safe to do so)

The Health and Safety Executive guidance on air conditioning and ventilation during the COVID-19 outbreak and CIBSE COVID-19 Advice provides more information.

To balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature, consider:

  • opening high level windows in colder weather in preference to low level to reduce draughts
  • increasing the ventilation while spaces are unoccupied
  • providing flexibility to allow additional, suitable indoor clothing
  • rearranging furniture where possible to avoid direct draughts

Heating should be used as necessary to ensure comfort levels are maintained particularly in occupied spaces.

8. Ensure individuals wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary

Most staff in out-of-school settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work. Face coverings are not classified as PPE (personal protective equipment).

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases, for example:

  • children, young people and learners whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE
  • if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained from any child, young person or other learner displaying COVID-19 symptoms

More information on the use of PPE is available in the guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings.

Providers should use their local supply chains to obtain required PPE. They may also be able to source PPE and cleaning products through the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) ‘Safer Working Supplies’ Portal. In addition, public sector buying organisations have pre-existing experience and relationships across our sector. Some of these organisations have e-catalogues offering PPE and cleaning products, including:

9. Promote and engage in asymptomatic testing, where available

Asymptomatic testing will help to break the chains of transmission of COVID-19 in education and childcare settings by identifying asymptomatic positive cases. This is important as up to 1 in 3 people who have the virus have it without symptoms (they are asymptomatic) so could be spreading the disease unknowingly. Staff who test positive then self-isolate, help to reduce transmission of the virus.

Anyone in England who does not have symptoms can now get regular rapid lateral flow tests to check for COVID-19.

Primary school and nursery staff have been supplied with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits to self-swab at home.

For secondary schools, we have moved to a home testing model. The lateral flow devices (LFDs) used have received regulatory approval from the MHRA for self-use. Home test kits will are available for all staff.

Secondary school pupils can collect test kits from their school. When testing at home, students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed, via the NHS Online reporting system for both negative and positive test results. Pupils aged 12-17 should self-test and report their negative or positive result with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary.

Public Health England have advised against programmes for LFD testing of primary age pupils. Primary age pupils, particularly younger children, may find the LFD testing process unpleasant and are unable to self-swab.

Staff or children with a positive LFD test result must self-isolate. They should do so in line with the stay-at-home guidance. They will also need to arrange a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result. If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive lateral flow test and is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD and the child or staff member can return to the education or childcare setting. Those with a negative LFD test result can also continue to attend education and childcare settings and use protective measures.

More information can be found in:

If you are operating on or linked to, a school, including maintained nurseries, then you should discuss with that school or nursery how your staff can access regular asymptomatic testing. Schools and nurseries should offer testing to all staff who are working in their settings including contractors or peripatetic staff. They should also offer testing to those supporting with wraparound childcare to children currently attending school, as well as other staff members such as clinical practitioners, therapists, other support staff, caterers and volunteers.

Wraparound childcare and out-of-school settings providers who are not linked to a school site can also access twice-weekly asymptomatic testing by any of the following:

For more information see Regular rapid COVID-19 tests if you do not have symptoms.

The asymptomatic testing programme does not replace the current testing policy for those with symptoms. Anyone with symptoms (even if they recently had a negative LFD test result), should still self-isolate immediately according to government guidelines and get a PCR test as soon as possible.

System of controls – response to any infection

10. Promote and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process

The NHS Test and Trace service will help to manage the risk of the virus re-emerging as restrictions on everyday life are eased.

Anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate has a legal obligation to do so, but they may leave home to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm. More information can be found on NHS Test and Trace: how it works.

Staff members, parents and carers will need to:

  • book a test if they or their child has symptoms – the main symptoms are:
    • a high temperature
    • a new continuous cough
    • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • self-isolate immediately and not come to your setting if:
    • they develop symptoms
    • they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19
    • anyone in their household or support or childcare bubble develops symptoms of COVID-19
    • they are required to quarantine having recently visited countries outside the common travel area
    • they have been notified by NHS test and trace or the PHE local health protection team that they have tested positive
    • provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with, if they test positive for COVID-19 or if asked by NHS Test and Trace

Polymerase chain reaction tests (PCR) for symptomatic testing

Anyone who displays symptoms of COVID-19 can and should get a test. Tests for symptomatic illness can be booked online through NHS testing and tracing for COVID-19, or ordered by telephone via NHS 119 for those without access to the internet.

Critical workers, which includes anyone involved in education or childcare, have priority access to testing. All children and young people can be tested if they have symptoms. This includes children under 5, but children aged 11 and under will need to be helped by their parents or carers if using a home testing kit.

Use of the NHS COVID-19 app

Please refer to the guidance on the use of the NHS COVID-19 app in schools and further education colleges for more information. The app is available to download for anyone aged 16 and over.

Test and Trace support payments

Individuals who are self-isolating and are unable to work from home may lose income as a result. These individuals may be entitled to a Test and Trace support payment of £500, payable as a lump sum from local authorities.

To be eligible for a Test and Trace support payment, the individual must be living in England, meet the eligibility criteria and be formally advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, who will provide them with an NHS Test and Trace Account ID.

Find out about applying for a Test and Trace Support Payment.

11. Manage confirmed cases of COVID-19 amongst the setting community

You must take swift action when you become aware that someone who has attended has tested positive for COVID-19.

If they test positive, NHS Test and Trace will speak directly to those they have been in contact with. This may mean that the rest of their group or bubble will be required to self-isolate. If this is the case, they will be advised to self-isolate immediately and for at least the next 10 full days counting from the day after contact with the individual who tested positive. It is a legal requirement for an individual to self-isolate if they have been told to do so by NHS Test and Trace.

To support NHS Test and Trace in reaching close contacts, you should keep a record of:

  • close contact between children and staff in specific groups or rooms
  • the timing of the activities and interactions

Records should be kept for 21 days.

You should also inform your local authority of a positive case in your setting. Where more detailed local arrangements are in place with the local authority, and are working, your setting can continue to receive support through that route to take action in response to a positive case.

Household members of those contacts who are sent home do not need to self-isolate themselves unless the pupil or staff member who is self-isolating subsequently develops symptoms, or they have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, in which case they must self-isolate – this is a legal obligation. If someone in a class or group that has been asked to self-isolate develops symptoms themselves within the 10 days from the day after contact with the individual who tested positive, they should follow guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

You should not request evidence of negative test results or other medical evidence before admitting children or welcoming them back after a period of self-isolation.

If a child, young person or staff member develops COVID-19 symptoms but tests negative, they can return to your setting. If they remain unwell, they should not return until they have recovered.

12. Contain any outbreak by following PHE local health protection team advice

If you have 2 or more confirmed cases within 14 days, or an overall rise in sickness absence where COVID-19 is suspected, you may have an outbreak.

You should work with your local health protection team who will be able to advise if additional action is required. In some cases, health protection teams may recommend that a larger number of other children self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure. This could be the whole site or bubble.

If you are implementing the protective measures in this guidance, addressing any issues you have identified and therefore reducing transmission risks, whole site closure will not generally be necessary. You should not consider closing except on the advice of health protection teams.

If a child becomes unwell at School Wrap

  • The parent and/or carer will be called immediately to come and collect them.
  • While your child is awaiting collection they will be kept separately from others by a distance of at least 2 metres, ideally in a well-ventilated room with appropriate adult supervision – a window should also be opened for ventilation if it is safe to do so.
  • Your child will use a separate bathroom if possible, which will be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else
  • PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained.In an emergency, call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Anyone with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms should not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital, unless advised to. Further information is available on how to manage and report confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the out-of-school settings community.