COVID-19 Phased reopening up-date

Letter dated   22.05.20

Dear Colleagues

Bristol Local Authority knows every setting wants to welcome children back as soon as possible, but arrangements will vary from setting to setting, according to different circumstances.  We know you will give careful consideration to your setting’s circumstances, buildings and staffing levels.  The priority, at all times, must be the safety of children, families and staff and we know this will be at the heart of your decision making. Your setting risk assessment will be used to decide what you can and cannot provide and when it is safe to open.

In light of the fact that the updated Implementation guidance for Early Years Childcare settings from the Government has yet to be published, it is clearly an incredibly challenging position settings to fully risk assess and be prepared to welcome back some or more children by the 1st June.  The LA is supportive of any provider which may need to delay bringing back more children whilst appropriate preparations take place.   This may mean some providers delay opening until a later date.  Settings should ensure they have time for:

  • Careful consideration of pending guidance
  • Updating of risk assessments in light of pending guidance
  • Staff training  on  operational procedures
  • Procurement of correct PPE for managing any incident of covid-19
  • Adaptation of environments and resources indoors and outdoors for safety and infection control
  • Implementing health and safety measures that we expect to be outlined in the pending guidance
  • Communication with parents about the arrangements.

Please find attached a risk assessment template that has been developed by the Local Authority to support LA schools and settings in preparing for re-opening from 1st June.  There is also a guidance document to help you think through you risk assessment which we hope you find useful.  We hope this will help you in considering when and how you might open your setting for children and families.  We appreciate the template is school focused but much can be adapted and edited to suit your own setting’s particular context and unique risks. 

For the youngest children, the government guidance states that maintaining social distancing of 2 metres is not always possible with the youngest children.  The LA risk assessment will need to be adapted to reflect this and should acknowledge the alternative approach the setting is taking.  Key statements from current government guidance relating to the grouping of EY children into cohorts (‘bubbles’) are included below.  I hope these support you and your team in completing the risk assessment. We believe that further operational guidance from the DfE is imminent and may further address the grouping of children.

‘to ensure that children are kept in small groups, and to avoid mixing of children between groups.’

‘ensuring children, young people and staff where possible, only mix in a small, consistent group and that small group stays away from other people and groups.’

‘While in general groups should be kept apart, brief, transitory contact, such as passing in a corridor, is low risk.’

‘For pre-school children in early years settings, the staff to child ratios within Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) continue to apply as set out here, and we recommend using these to group children.’

‘ensure that children and young people are in the same small groups at all times each day, and different groups are not mixed during the day, or on subsequent days’

‘ensure that the same teacher(s) and other staff are assigned to each group and, as far as possible, these stay the same during the day and on subsequent days,’

‘ensure that wherever possible children and young people use the same classroom or area of a setting throughout the day, with a thorough cleaning of the rooms at the end of the day’.

We further attach a risk assessment template produced by BAND for your reference which you are also able to adapt to suit your needs.

Finally, Alison Hurley, Director of Education and Skills, has also written a letter for parents outlining the current situation and that the decision of how and when to open will vary from setting to setting.  Please feel free to share with your parents as part of your work in helping them understand your plans and opening timeline.

Best wishes

The Early Years Team

Contacts

Deborah Brown - (General Enquries)
Dawn Butler - (General Enquiries)
Nicola Theobald - (General and Nursery School Enquiries)
Sharon McDonald - (Childminder Enquiries)