Pre-school Education: Social Distancing

Department for Education written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Damien Moore Damien Moore Conservative, Southport

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what plans his Department has for issuing further guidance on which social distancing measures will need to be in place when pre-school education resumes during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Keeping children safe is our utmost priority.

From 20 July, early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) have been allowed to return to normal group sizes. This is because there is moderate to high scientific confidence in evidence suggesting younger children are less likely to become ill with COVID-19, and high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they do get ill. Furthermore, early years settings are already required to operate within strict staff-child ratio and space requirements.

We continue to expect that early years settings will consider how they can minimise mixing within settings, for example where they use different rooms for different age groups, keeping those groups apart as much as possible.

Settings are also required to follow a Public Health England endorsed ‘system of controls’ to minimise risks. For example, enhanced cleaning, thorough hand cleaning, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) where applicable. Detailed guidance has been issued and is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care-settings-including-the-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-ppe; and here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures.

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