Keeping children and staff safe is our utmost priority. The department has published ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak’ guidance and ‘Education and childcare settings: national lockdown from 5 January 2021’ guidance for early years settings to follow, which can be accessed via these links: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures/coronavirus-covid-19-early-years-and-childcare-closures and https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/958670/Education_and_childcare_settings_national_lockdown_from_5_January_2021.pdf.
The public health advice in the guidance includes a Public Health England-endorsed system of controls, building on the hierarchy of protective measures that have been in use throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. When implemented in line with a revised risk assessment, these measures create an environment where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced for children and staff.
The system of controls provides a set of principles that, when followed, will effectively minimise risks. All elements of the system of controls are essential. All settings must cover them all, but the way different settings implement some of the requirements will differ based on their individual circumstances.
Setting leaders will be best placed to understand the needs of their settings and communities, and to make informed judgments about how to balance delivering high quality care and education with the measures needed to manage risk.