Thursday 28 May 2020

Covid-19 Policy

Covid-19 Risk Management Policy

Last reviewed: 15.09.21  

As coronavirus is still present in the community, measures need to be in place prior to, and upon, opening to ensure the safety of staff, children, parents and essential visitors to the setting. 
Throughout this policy, the terms Coronavirus or Covid-19 will be used to identify the virus. Regardless of the term used, they are both referring to the same illness and virus.

Statement of Intent
Stepping Stones Pre-School is committed to maintaining the health and safety of children, staff, parents and essential visitors during the Covid-19 outbreak. We adhere to relevant Government guidance, to ensure that the risk of transmission of Covid-19 within the setting is managed and minimised. The safety of everyone at the setting is our main priority at this time.

The aim of this policy is to ensure the safety of Stepping Stones children, staff, parents and visitors whilst the setting is open during the Covid-19 outbreak. Covid-19 can be spread directly (through close contact, sneezing and coughing) or indirectly (through touching contaminated surfaces)

The Legal Framework for this is:
Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework (2021)
The Children Act 1989
Coronavirus Act 2020
Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021

Linked Documents / Policies
Covid risk assessment
Absence policy
Health and Safety policy
Bereavement policy
Procedure for returning to work after a period of absence
Working from home during the coronavirus outbreak policy
Safeguarding Children and Child Protection policy
Curriculum policy
Special Educational Needs policy
Attendance policy
Resources risk assessment
Lockdown policy
Fire evacuation procedures
Sun safety policy
Stepping Stones Emergency Plan
Covid Outbreak Management Contingency Plan

Government Guidance:
Use of PPE in education, childcare and social care 20.7.12 
If you need to self isolate or cannot work due to coronavirus 31.12.21 
What to do if you’re employed and cannot work 26.7.21 
Coronavirus: how to stay safe and stop the spread 20.8.21 
Guidance for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus infection who do not live with the person 13.8.21
Financial support for education, early years and children’s social care 27.5.21
Claim for wages through the coronavirus job retention scheme 19.8.21
Managing coronavirus in education and childcare settings 17.8.21
Guidance on shielding and protecting CEV persons 11.8.21
Protect vulnerable workers during the coronavirus pandemic 9.8.21
Talking with your workers about preventing coronavirus 19.7.21
Travel legislation
Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions and make your own 20.7.21
Cleaning of non health care settings outside of the home 19.7.21
Ventilation and air conditioning during the coronavirus pandemic 9.8.21
When to self isolate and what to do 19.8.21
Symptoms of coronavirus
Stay at home guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus infection 13.8.21
Regular lateral flow coronavirus tests 19.8.21
Get a free PCR test to check if you have coronavirus
Claiming financial support under the test and trace support payment scheme 16.8.21
Coronavirus staff resilience tips
Online reporting form to tell Ofsted of confirmed cases of coronavirus
First aid during the coronavirus pandemic 9.8.21
Resuscitation Council UK Statement on COVID-19 in relation to CPR and resuscitation in first aid and community settings August 2021

Symptoms of coronavirus / Covid-19:
A new persistent cough
A temperature above 37.8°C
Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste (anosmia)
More information can be found on:

Staff responsibilities and deputies in relation to this policy
Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) – Ruth Kitchen
Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead (DDSL) – Rose Dodd
SENCO – Rose Dodd
Deputy SENCO – Kerri Standen
Health and Safety – Kirsty Gibson
Deputy Health and Safety – Rose Dodd
Paediatric First Aid Qualified (12hour) – Rose Dodd, Ruth Kitchen, Kirsty Gibson, Lucy Bayliss, Kerri Standen, Laura Turner

The responsibilities of Stepping Stones as a setting during the outbreak
Stepping Stones is responsible for:
safeguarding – working together with local agencies and services to actively look for signs of harm given the greater risk of harm that some children may have been exposed to through coronavirus (COVID-19)
supporting the learning and development of - and caring for - children who attend, as set out in the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework
in the case of vulnerable children, particularly those with social workers, we continue to encourage these children to attend regularly and will notify their social worker if they stop attending

Risk assessment
The Chair of the Village Hall committee (Tony Jones) is the named responsible person for Health and Safety on the Village Hall management committee. Our Health and Safety Officer (or deputy in her absence) is responsible for carrying out and recording the setting’s Health and Safety checks. In addition to these regular checks, we have risk assessments in place for each activity planned for the children, to allow us to assess the risk posed by Covid-19 and put into place proportionate control measures. We actively monitor that the controls are effective, working as planned and updated as appropriate (for example when an issue is identified) or when there are changes to public health advice; or half termly as a minimum.
We ensure that when risk assessing, we consider the risks faced by staff and children with protected characteristics (for example age, sex, deprivation levels, ethnicity and occupation). We treat these as working documents, and update them in line with changes in Public Health advice.

Safeguarding and Child Welfare
Children may be experiencing a variety of emotions in response to coronavirus (COVID-19), such as anxiety, stress or low mood. This may particularly be the case for vulnerable children, including those with a social worker. It is important to contextualise these feelings as normal responses to an abnormal situation. Some may need support, a few may be showing signs of more severe anxiety or depression. Others will not be experiencing any challenges. Attending Stepping Stones allows social interaction with other children and staff, which benefits wellbeing.
We continue to take all necessary steps to keep children safe and well during this period and have regard to the statutory guidance on working together to safeguard children. The safeguarding and welfare sections of the EYFS foundation framework still apply, including requirements relating to child protection arrangements. We continue to work closely with the local authority.
We aim to provide more focused support where issues are identified that individual children may need help with, drawing on external support where necessary and possible. We will also consider support needs of particular groups we are already aware of for needing additional help (for example, children in need), and any groups we identify as newly vulnerable. 
We can use the free resource MindEd learning platform for professionals, which contains materials on peer support, stress, fear and trauma, and bereavement.
Where there is a concern that a child is in need or suffering or likely to suffer from harm, Stepping Stones (generally led by the DSL or DDSL) will follow our Safeguarding and Child Protection policy and part 1 of the statutory safeguarding guidance keeping children safe in education and consider any referral to statutory services (and the police) as appropriate.
At all times, either (or both) the DSL and / or the DDSL are on site.
Stepping Stones’ Safeguarding Children and Child Protection policy was last updated in September 2020 and was adopted at Stepping Stones AGM in October 2020.It has been shared with staff.

Virtual School provision
The role of the Virtual School Head (VSH) is to oversee the provision of every looked after child (LAC) in Staffordshire. This responsibility continues throughout the pandemic. The VSH (as of 30th December 2020) is Sarah Rivers. She can be contacted on:
Phone 1: 01785 854195
Phone 2: 07976 191025

What is meant by a contact?
A contact is a person who has been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. A person can be a contact any time from 2 days before the person who tested positive developed their symptoms (or, if they did not have any symptoms, from 2 days before the date their positive test was taken), and up to 10 days after, as this is when they can pass the infection on to others. 
A contact can be:
anyone who lives in the same household as another person who has COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
anyone who has had any of the following types of contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19:
face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation within one metre
been within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day)
A person may also be a close contact if they have travelled in the same vehicle or plane as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Contacts have been assessed as being at risk of developing COVID-19, even if they currently have no symptoms. 

How will a contact know they are a contact?
As of 18th July 2021, Stepping Stones no longer needs to undertake contact tracing. We understand that in exceptional cases, we may be contacted and asked for assistance, as is the case with other infectious diseases. 
Contacts will be notified by the NHS Test and Trace service via text message, email, app or phone. They will check whether the contact is legally required to self-isolate. If not, they will give advice on testing and on preventing the spread of COVID-19. 
Asymptomatic contacts will be advised to have a PCR test as soon as possible. Children aged 4 and under will not be advised to take a test unless the positive case was someone in their own household.
When self isolation is needed
Contacts of people who have had a positive test result for COVID-19, must stay at home and self-isolate. The isolation period includes the date of your last contact with the person who had a positive test result for COVID-19 and the next 10 full days. 
Self-isolation means you must stay at home and not leave the house. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
Do not go outside even to buy food or other essentials, except in certain specific circumstances. Any exercise must be taken within your home, garden or private outdoor space.

When self isolation is not needed:
From 16 August 2021, contacts may not be required to self-isolate if they:
are fully vaccinated (fully vaccinated means that they have been vaccinated with an MHRA approved COVID-19 vaccine in the UK, and at least 14 days have passed since you received the recommended doses of that vaccine)
are below the age of 18 years 6 months
have taken part in or are currently part of an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Even vaccinated people can still be infected with COVID-19 and pass it on to others. Contacts of someone with COVID-19 who are not required to self-isolate can help protect others by: 
limiting close contact with people outside your household, especially in enclosed spaces
wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and where you are unable to maintain social distancing
limiting contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable
taking part in twice weekly LFD testing
This advice applies until 10 full days after the most recent contact with the person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Staff who do not need to self-isolate, and have been identified as a close contact, should continue to attend the setting as normal.

Children as contacts
Children and young people aged under 18 years 6 months who usually attend Stepping Stones and who have been identified as a close contact can continue to attend the setting. In the interests of protecting the health and safety of our staff, children and their families, we request that the child who has been a contact has a PCR Covid test prior to returning to the setting. We ask the parents to send us proof of a negative result, and then to undertake twice weekly LFT testing, and again keep us informed of the result. They do not need to wear a face covering within the setting.

Contacts developing symptoms
If a contact develops any of the following symptoms: a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, the normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they should self-isolate and arrange to have a PCR test for COVID-19.
If a contact does not have any of these symptoms, other household members do not need to self-isolate.

NOTE on PCR testing:
A PCR test should not be arranged if a person has previously received a positive PCR test result in the previous 90 days, unless new symptoms of COVID-19 develop. It is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection.

Stepping measures up and down

Local outbreaks
Stepping Stones has a contingency plan (sometimes called outbreak management plans), outlining what we would do if children or staff test positive for COVID-19, and how we would operate if we were advised to take extra measures to help break chains of transmission. 
Given the detrimental impact that restrictions on education can have on children, any measures we put into place would only ever be considered as a last resort, kept to the minimum number of staff and children 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. More information can be found in the contingency framework. This describes the principles of managing local outbreaks of COVID-19 in education and childcare settings. Local authorities, directors of public health and PHE health protection teams 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.
We continue to work closely with health protection teams in the case of a local outbreak. If there is a substantial increase in the number of positive cases at Stepping Stones, or if central government offers the area an enhanced response package, a director of public health might advise us to temporarily reintroduce some control measures. In these circumstances, we will act on the advice given.

Vaccinated workforce
At Stepping Stones, we actively encourage staff to take up the vaccine, and endeavour to enable staff who are eligible for a vaccination to attend booked vaccine appointments. It is preferable that these appointments happen outside of working hours, but if this is not possible, we can be flexible to provide unpaid leave if needed.

Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) staff 
Clinically extremely vulnerable 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 guidance on protecting people who are CEV from COVID-19.
Social distancing measures have now ended in the workplace. Stepping Stones has measures in place to keep CEV staff and children safe in the setting. We are aware that The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidance on protecting vulnerable workers, and use this to inform our procedures and risk assessments.

Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV)
All children who are CEV should attend Stepping Stones unless they are one of the very small number of children under paediatric or other specialist care who have been advised by their clinician or other specialist not to attend. We are aware of children who have health conditions which could deem them to be CEV.

Children and staff travelling from abroad
All children and staff travelling to England must adhere to travel legislation, details of which are set out in red, amber and green list rules for entering England. This changes regularly in line with data and perceived risk from abroad. 
Parents and carers should bear in mind the impact on their child’s learning and development which may result from any requirement to quarantine or isolate upon return. 
Staff should bear in mind that quarantine requirements may affect their ability to work on their return to England.

Face coverings
Face coverings are no longer required in communal areas of the Village Hall (ie: staff using the bathroom) but we continue to allow staff to make their own decisions regarding their use. We also allow staff to decide whether they wish to wear one whilst on the front doors in the morning and afternoon.

Circumstances where face coverings are recommended
If we have a substantial increase in the number of positive cases at Stepping Stones, a director of public health might advise us that face coverings should temporarily be worn in communal areas by staff (unless exempt). Our contingency plan covers 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. 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 the setting. 

Control measures
Here at Stepping Stones, we:
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.
We ensure that key contractors and visitors to the setting are aware of our control measures and how we work. The number of visitors to the setting is restricted to only those necessary. 

1. Ensure good hygiene for everyone
Hand hygiene
Frequent and thorough hand cleaning is regular practice. We wash / sanitize the children’s hands in the morning when they come into the setting, after they come in from playing outside, before and after eating, after sneezing or coughing and after using the toilet.  We do this with soap and water or hand sanitiser. 
For our very youngest children, or those with additional needs, we have hand sanitizer wipes to reduce the risk of ingestion. We support our children in becoming independent with this, modelling how to clean hands properly and giving them opportunities for supervised practice.

Respiratory hygiene
The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach continues to be very important. We help the children to adopt this approach, and are models of good practice for the children to see. We continue to have lidded bins in which used tissues can be disposed of.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Generally, we do not require PPE beyond what we would normally need. PPE is routinely used when carrying out intimate care procedures (ie: nappy changing) and first aid. See the Use of PPE and first aid sections for more information.

2. Maintain appropriate cleaning regimes, using standard products such as detergents
The infection risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk. However, studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.
At Stepping Stones, we have a cleaning schedule which ensures that cleaning is generally enhanced through the day. It includes:
frequently touched surfaces being cleaned more often than normal (a minimum of twice a day – one of which is at the start of the day)
toys and equipment used by the children is cleaned after use
clear processes for maintaining cleanliness of food preparation areas and tables
We clean hard surfaces such as tables and chairs with either a steamer, soap and water, or a disinfectant spray scientifically tested to remove human coronavirus / enveloped viruses. We leave it on the surface for at least 5 minutes before wiping it off with a disposable cloth / paper towel. 
We wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap and running water regularly and dry our hands thoroughly. We also wash our hands: after removing gloves, aprons and other PPE; and after cleaning.
We use disposable cloths and paper roll to clean all hard surfaces, such as floors, chairs, door handles, doors, tables and sanitary fittings.
Heavily contaminated objects that can’t be cleaned will be disposed of.
Where we use the dishwasher for cleaning purposes, we ensure that it does at least one full cycle per week to remove scale and prevent bacteria growth.

3. Keep occupied spaces well ventilated
We ensure that we keep the areas we use are well ventilated, whilst ensuring that a comfortable environment is maintained.
Where it is safe to do so, we open external windows and doors to improve natural ventilation. Opening internal doors can also assist with creating a throughput of air. We only open the back external door for safeguarding reasons.
Our risk assessment process identifies any poorly ventilated spaces, and we put measures into place to improve fresh air flow in these areas. We give particular consideration when holding events where visitors such as parents are on site, for example for a show or play. Any events like these will be thoroughly risk assessed prior to the event to ensure the transmission risk is as low as possible.
The large hall has a mechanical ventilation system, that can be used to draw fresh air in, or extract air from a room. These are checked by the Village Hall as part of their maintenance programme to ensure that only fresh outside air is circulated.
Where possible, the system is adjusted to full fresh air. It is also acceptable to use it provided that it is supplemented by an outdoor air supply. The Village Hall system can be used on both of these settings.

4. Follow public health advice on testing, self-isolation and managing confirmed cases of COVID-19
Children, staff and other adults should follow public health advice on when to self-isolate and what to do. They should not come into the setting if they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) 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).
If anyone at Stepping Stones develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, they will be sent home immediately and they will need to have a PCR test (not LFT as they are symptomatic).
Where possible, symptomatic children and staff should avoid using public transport and, should be collected by a member of their family or household.
If a symptomatic child is awaiting collection, appropriate PPE should be used if close contact is necessary. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE for contact with a symptomatic person
Depending on how close a staff member needs to be to a symptomatic individual, the following PPE may be needed:
fluid-resistant surgical face masks (also known as Type IIR)
disposable gloves
disposable plastic aprons
eye protection (for example, a face visor or goggles)

How much PPE is worn depends on how much contact is had:
in case of face to face contact, face mask should be worn.
in case of physical contact, gloves, an apron and a face mask should be worn.
eye protection should be worn if a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of fluids entering the eye, for example, from coughing, spitting or vomiting.
Staff will be able to wear whatever PPE they feel comfortable with – even if this is above and beyond Government recommendations.

Face masks should:
cover both the nose and mouth
not be allowed to dangle around the neck
not be touched once put on, except when carefully removed before disposal
be changed when they become moist or damaged
be worn once and then discarded - hands should be cleaned after disposal

Any rooms used by the symptomatic person should be cleaned after they have left.

PPE for first aid
Children, young people or students who require first aid will continue to receive care in the same way. No additional PPE is needed because of COVID-19 for anyone who does not have COVID-19 symptoms.

In case of needing to carry out CPR, we use a cloth or towel to cover the patient's mouth and nose. This should minimise the risk of transmission while still permitting breathing to restart following successful resuscitation. The following PPE should be used: 
a fluid-repellent surgical mask
disposable gloves
eye protection
apron or other suitable covering
We will only deliver CPR by chest compressions for an adult – in line with guidance from HSE. 
In the case of paediatric resuscitation, we accept that doing rescue breaths will increase the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus, either to the rescuer or the child/infant. However, this risk is small compared to the risk of taking no action as this will result in certain cardiac arrest and the death of the child.  In this situation, we reserve the right to carry out rescue breaths.

Disposing of PPE
Used PPE should be placed in a refuse bag and can be disposed of as normal domestic waste. It cannot be recycled. In situations where someone has symptoms of COVID-19, personal waste will be stored for 72 hours as an additional precaution.

Cleaning and disinfection where there are NO symptoms of COVID-19
We clean surfaces regularly throughout the day, and toys when they are put away for the day. We use standard cleaning products such as detergents and bleach, paying particular attention to those which are touched frequently, such as door handles, light switches, work surfaces, remote controls and electronic devices.
As a minimum, frequently touched surfaces are be wiped down twice a day, once at the beginning and once at the end of the working day. 
When cleaning surfaces, it is not necessary to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) or clothing over and above what would usually be used.

Items should be washed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. There is no additional washing requirement above what would normally be carried out.

Kitchen area 
It is very unlikely that COVID-19 is transmitted through food. However, as a matter of good hygiene practice, anyone handling food should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before doing so. Five members of staff at Stepping Stones have achieved their Level 2 Food and Hygiene qualification.
Crockery and eating utensils should not be shared.
Material towels should only be used if they are going to washed after each use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  

The family bathroom used by Stepping Stones children is cleaned at the start of the day and at the end of the day as a minimum, and when needed in between times. Each cubicle has its own hand washing facilities, including running water, liquid soap and paper towels are just outside of the bathroom. Children are taught to put their used paper towel in the lidded bin once they are finished with it. 
The nappy changing mat is disinfected after each use, and the potty is emptied and disinfected between uses. Where possible, children are encouraged to use the toilet training seats on the toilets rather than the potty. Cloth towels are not used for hand drying.

Waste does not need to be segregated unless an individual in the setting shows symptoms of or tests positive for COVID-19.
Used wipes are disposed of in ‘black bag’ waste bins. They do not need to be put in an extra bag, or stored, before throwing them away.

Principles of cleaning after an individual WITH SYMPTOMS of, or CONFIRMED, COVID-19 has left the setting or area

Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The minimum PPE to be worn for cleaning an area after a person with symptoms of COVID-19, or confirmed COVID-19, has left the setting, is disposable gloves and an apron. Hands are washed with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed.
If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of virus may be present (for example, there are spilt bodily fluids) then additional PPE to protect the cleaner’s eyes, mouth and nose may be necessary. The local Public Health England (PHE) Health Protection Team can advise on this.

Cleaning and disinfection
Public areas where a symptomatic person has passed through and spent minimal time but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids, such as corridors, can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.
All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with should be cleaned and disinfected, including all potentially contaminated and frequently touched areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones etc. 
Disposable cloths or paper roll are used to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings – think one site, one wipe, in one direction.
These areas are cleaned using one of the following methods: 
a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine (ppm OR
a household detergent followed by disinfection (1,000 ppm Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants OR
an alternative disinfectant that is effective against enveloped viruses
We avoid:
mixing cleaning products together as this can create toxic fumes
creating splashes and spray when cleaning.

Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined in the waste section below.
When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning will be used.

Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items. To minimise the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry prior to washing.

Personal waste from individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 and waste from cleaning of areas where they have been (including PPE, disposable cloths and used tissues):
1. should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full
2. the plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied
3. the second bag should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual’s test results are known. This waste should be stored safely and kept away from children. It should not be placed in communal waste areas until negative test results are known, or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours.

If the individual tests negative, this can be disposed of immediately with the normal waste.
If COVID-19 is confirmed this waste should be stored for at least 72 hours before disposal with normal waste.
If during an emergency we need to remove the waste before 72 hours, it must be treated as Category B infectious waste. We will:
keep it separate from your other waste
arrange for collection by a specialist contractor as hazardous waste
We understand that there will be a charge for this service.

Asymptomatic testing
Rapid lateral flow device test kits are available free of charge from pharmacies and online.
At Stepping Stones, staff can undertake twice weekly home tests, although this is not compulsory. 
Early years children are not included in the rapid testing programme as PHE has advised there are limited public health benefits attached to testing early years children with LFT tests. 
It is up to parents to choose whether they wish to use a LFD test on their Stepping Stones child (as they are all under 5).
However, we ask that, in the occurrence that a member of the child’s household develops COVID-19, the child has a LFD test twice a week until the end of the family member’s isolation period.

Confirmatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests
Staff and children with a positive rapid lateral flow test result should self-isolate in line with COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection. They will also need to get a free PCR test to check if they have COVID-19.
While awaiting the PCR result, the individual should continue to self-isolate.
If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive rapid lateral flow test, and is negative, it overrides the rapid lateral flow test and they can return to the setting, as long as the individual does not have COVID-19 symptoms.
If the result of the PCR test is positive, they must continue their self isolation in line with current guidance.

Test and Trace Support Payments
Some staff, parents and carers may be eligible for a one-off Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 if they have been told to self-isolate. This is payable in one lump sum from the local authority.
Further information is available on claiming financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.

Admitting children back to the setting after COVID related absence
In most cases, parents and carers will agree that a child with symptoms should not attend the setting, given the potential risk to others. If a parent or carer insists on a child attending the setting, we can take the decision to refuse the child if, in our reasonable judgement, it is necessary to protect other children and staff from possible infection with COVID-19. Any decision that is made would be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and current public health advice. 
We cannot demand evidence of test results (be they positive or negative), however we will ask parents if they would be willing to provide them. This will help us in supporting families with self isolation requirements if needed.

Staying in touch with parents or carers whose child is at home
All children should be able to attend as normal, with the exception of those children who may have to self-isolate for a limited range of reasons.
In our contingency plan, we consider how:
to continue to support the learning of children who do not attend settings including how these children can maintain contact with their key person and peers through the early years setting
parents and carers can be supported to provide a positive learning environment at home

Parents and carers are directed to:
Hungry Little Minds - provides simple fun, activities for kids aged 0 to 5 for parents to do at home with children to support their early learning
BBC Tiny Happy People - activities for babies, toddlers and children
Words for Life
Help children aged 2 to 4 to learn at home: coronavirus (COVID-19)

We will work with local authorities to monitor the welfare of:
vulnerable children who are not attending provision
other children they might wish to keep in touch with, for safeguarding purposes

Children’s wellbeing and support
Some children may be experiencing a variety of emotions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as anxiety, stress or low mood. Many of our children will not have had previous experience of socialising with other children, or of leaving their main carer for a period of time.
To help with this, we are prepared to provide more focused support for children’s individual issues, drawing on external support where necessary and possible. 
We will ensure that, through our planning, we consider:
the mental health, pastoral or wider wellbeing support children may need, including with bereavement
how to support them to transition into the setting after a long period of absence
in some cases, increased welfare and safeguarding risks
This may lead to an increase in social, emotional and mental health concerns, particularly for vulnerable groups such as:
children with a social worker
previously looked-after children who left care through adoption or special
Should a child or family be identified as vulnerable or in need of support for mental health and wellbeing issues, we will contact the local authority to find out what support is available to them.
We will monitor how vulnerable children continue to have their needs met and be supported and will actively look out for signs of harms as appropriate.

To support this, there are free resources on the MindEd learning platform for professionals, which contains materials on peer support, stress, fear and trauma, and bereavement. 

Staff mental health and wellbeing
There is support and information on: 
MindEd has also developed coronavirus staff resilience tips with advice and tips for frontline staff. This can be found on the following link:

Reporting COVID-19 cases to Ofsted
We notify Ofsted of any confirmed cases in the setting, whether a child or a staff member. We will also tell Ofsted if we have to close the setting as a result. We will use their online reporting form to do this. This is a legal requirement.  

Fees during the outbreak
Fees for sessions are payable as they have been previously. The main exceptions are when there is a barrier to accessing childcare, based on government guidance or the law. In this case, parents or carers will not be charged for this period. Examples include: 
in the case of a child’s positive coronavirus test and subsequent self-isolation, refunds (or swapped sessions) will be issued for the child’s missed Stepping Stones sessions. Evidence of a positive Covid-19 test result would be required in order for this to be considered. 
should a child be unable to attend Stepping Stones due to their main carer having to self isolate and being unable to bring them, Stepping Stones will not charge the parent or carer for this period. Evidence of the positive test will be required. Again, either a refund or swapped sessions will be offered.
should Stepping Stones have to shut as a setting, due to government guidance or the law, parents or carers will not be charged for sessions during this closure period. 
Any refund would be made, on production of relevant evidence and at the agreement of the Management Committee.
We can, and will, continue to charge for consumables in line with the early education and childcare statutory guidance for local authorities. For us, this is our half termly ‘Toy Money’ charge.

Vaccines and teething
Vaccines may cause a mild fever in children. This is a common and expected reaction, and isolation is not required unless coronavirus (COVID-19) is suspected.
Whilst teething can cause some known side effects such as flushed cheeks and sore gums, NHS guidelines state that fever is not a symptom of teething.
Parents and carers should monitor side effects from a vaccination or teething, and if they are concerned about their child’s health, they should seek advice from their GP or NHS 111.
If coronavirus (COVID-19) is suspected, settings should follow the advice in the system of controls.

Paying Statutory Sick Pay
Stepping Stones will pay SSP if an employee is self-isolating and off work for at least 4 days if any of the following apply:
They or someone they live with has coronavirus symptoms
They have been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus
Someone in their support bubble has symptoms.
They have been advised by letter to shield because they’re clinically extremely vulnerable and at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
They have been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery for up to 14 days
We will also pay SSP if an employee has a letter from the NHS or GP telling them to take extra precautions because they are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. This letter will say how long the employee should be off work.
The employee will be paid from the first ‘qualifying day’ (the first day an employee normally works on) they are off work on or after:
13th March 2020 – if they or someone they live with has symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19.
16th April 2020 – if the employee is shielding
28th May 2020 – the employee has been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they have come into contact with someone with coronavirus
6th July 2020 – if someone in their support bubble has symptoms
26 August 2020 – if your employee has been notified by the NHS to self-isolate before surgery)

Reclaiming SSP
Stepping Stones can currently reclaim SSP paid to an employee for Covid related sickness absence. More information can be found on:
We cannot reclaim SSP if an employee is off sick for any other reason. 
SSP can be reclaimed through the Government Gateway website, by looking on this link:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
Stepping Stones reserves the right to participate in the CJRS if needed. More information can be found on the following website:

Staff not wanting to attend work during the coronavirus pandemic
Staff who feel that they do not wish to attend work during the coronavirus pandemic need to tell the Manager as soon as possible. The Manager will listen to the employee’s concerns and take steps to ensure the safety of the employee. 
If the staff member still does not want to attend or return to work, they will be able to discuss their options with the Chair depending on their specific circumstances. 
Further guidance for this situation is found in the absence policy and the ‘returning to work following a period of absence procedure’.
Staff who have previously informed the Manager or Chair that they will be absent from work for an agreed period of time will be contacted towards the end of the agreed period for an update on their availability to work at the end of the agreed period.

Staffing Shortages
If Stepping Stones experiences staff shortages, we will work with the local authority (Staffordshire County Council) to identify how appropriate provision can be put in place while keeping staffing arrangements as consistent as possible. This provision could include pooling staff with another setting, taking on qualified and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checked staff from other educational settings (including local registered childminders) which have been closed, and inviting local registered childminders to work at the setting. Wherever possible, we ensure staffing arrangements are consistent on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis, in order to limit contacts.
Our Management Committee all have enhanced child barred list DBS certificates that are registered with the Update service and checked termly to ensure continued suitability. If needed, we could call on one of our Committee members to help on a voluntary basis 
Our Emergency Plan lists relief staff and volunteers we can call upon if we are short staffed. Their DBS and child barred list checks are currently pending, and their certificates will be monitored termly to ensure continued suitability.
NB – once DBS checks have been submitted, volunteers and staff may work within the setting UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF SOMEONE WITH A DBS CHECK until the DBS disclosure arrives and a satisfactory result has been seen.

Visitors to Stepping Stones
Only totally necessary external visitors will be allowed into Stepping Stones. Deliveries of supplies, such as milk, will be made outside of session hours. 
Should professionals from another setting need to attend (e.g.: Speech and Language Therapists, social worker or counsellor) we will assess whether the meeting / visit can be carried out virtually. If needed, visits that allow a vulnerable child to meet a social worker, key worker or other necessary support will continue on site and visits for SEND therapies can also continue on site.
If the external professional needs to attend in person, they must:
follow our infection control procedures
keep the number of attendances to a minimum
wash hands frequently
where possible to do so, maintain social distancing

Should any site visits be needed outside of setting opening hours (i.e.: for maintenance) a record will be kept by the Village Hall committee of who visited, when and why.
Parents are not allowed into Stepping Stones unless there is a specific need / emergency. If it is unavoidable for a parent to enter the setting (ie: to collect a poorly child), we will ask them to wear a face mask whilst in the setting, avoid close contact with any other children, maintain social distance from all members of staff and stay in the setting for the minimum possible time.
Visits from prospective parents will not be possible at the present time. They will be signposted to our Facebook page, webpage and receive an electronic copy of our prospectus. Existing parents will be able to see what their child has been doing through Tapestry.
The Manager is happy to meet with prospective parents outside to discuss their child’s needs and give them information about the setting.

Stepping Stones trips and visits off site
Stepping Stones will only take small groups of children off site in exceptional circumstances, for example for wreath laying on Remembrance Day. These trips will be limited to outdoor public places and on the proviso that:
it is for the purpose of education or childcare
we remain within the EYFS staff child ratios
we conduct a risk assessment in advance
good hygiene is maintained throughout
thorough handwashing happens before and after the trip
appropriate insurance arrangements are in place
During periods of National Lockdown, we will not be undertaking trips out of the setting.

Recruitment will continue as usual if required. A flexible approach to interviews can be adopted. Alternative options to face-to-face interviews can be offered where required, such as using video conferencing.
Where face-to-face meetings are arranged, it will be made clear to candidates that they must adhere to the system of controls that is in place. Where possible, these meetings will take place outside of the setting, for example in the Tarmac Annexe. Stepping Stones reserves the right to require candidates to wear face coverings where social distancing cannot be safely managed.
We continue to adhere to the legal requirements regarding pre-appointment checks.

Supply staff and students
Where it is necessary to use supply staff in the setting, or welcome visitors such as students, those individuals will be expected to comply with our arrangements for managing and minimising risk, including taking particular care to maintain distance from other staff.
The presence of any additional members of staff should be agreed on a weekly rather than a daily basis, where possible, in order to limit contacts.

Emergency drills during the outbreak
Fire drills
fire alarm systems and call points will be regularly checked to ensure they are working
the setting will be subject to regular hazard spotting
fire doors will be checked regularly to ensure they are functional
fire drills will be held and recorded as normal. This is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Officer.
the fire evacuation procedure remains the same as the evacuation point is outside. 
Lockdown drills
The lockdown drills will remain the same, with the added security measure of the gates at the front of the Village Hall being locked after drop off until pick up time. The space behind the stage is still be used as a safe place, and adults are spread along the line of children. We will continue to practise this drill during sessions, the arrangement and recording of them is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Officer.

Intimate care procedures
PPE is required as normal for nappy changing and intimate care procedures (disposable apron and gloves).

Uniform and clothing
Staff and children’s uniform can be washed according to manufacturer’s guidance. Staff and children need to arrive at work / nursery each morning in clean clothes. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s things. Anything that is used to transport dirty laundry needs cleaning and disinfecting. 

Children attending more than one setting
We encourage parents and carers to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally ensuring their child only attends one setting consistently. This is also the same for staff. We understand that whilst this is preferable, it is not always possible.

Taking children’s temperatures 
It is NOT recommended for parents to report their child’s temperature in the morning when they are dropping their child at the setting. It is also not recommended for Stepping Stones to routinely measure the temperature of the children.  Public Health England are clear that this is an unreliable method for identifying Covid-19.
We have a thermometer in the setting for staff to use if they feel a child is unwell and may have a temperature. The result is reported to parents should they be asked to pick their child up.

Safety measures
Toys and areas are cleaned thoroughly in between use.
There will be thorough cleaning of all rooms at the end of the day in preparation for the following day.
Handwashing and good respiratory practices will be modelled and adhered to
Parents can bring in soft toy comforters for their child if required. These are to stay in pushchairs, and used when the child is in the pushchair sleeping. Children are not to have them whilst accessing activities due to the risk of virus transmission.
It is acceptable for dummies to be brought in for the youngest children; these must remain in pushchairs.
Outside space will be used wherever possible 
Outdoor toys, such as scooters and bikes, are used and appropriately cleaned between uses 
The number of children in the toilets at once will be monitored to ensure there is a maximum of one child per cubicle. The maximum number of people in the toilet room at once will therefore be 3 children and 1 member of staff. A member of staff helps with handwashing afterwards if needed.
The toilets are cleaned thoroughly twice a day – once in the morning and once at the end of the day by staff. They are sprayed down regularly with disinfectant throughout the day, focussing on ‘touch points’.
We discourage children from using the potty at Stepping Stones. The toilet seats are family toilet seats designed for young children, however, should a child be too small to use the toilet they will be able to use the potty. It will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected immediately after use. 
Planned activities that are offered to the children during the day will be specifically risk assessed in light of the Covid-19 threat. See the ‘activity risk assessment’ document. These risk assessments will be constantly monitored to ensure the controls remain effective and are appropriately updated in line with public health advice.
Stepping Stones are aware that in a tiny number of cases, Covid-19 can cause complications in children. This can result in a condition called PMIS (Paediatric Multi System Inflammatory Syndrome). Signs and symptoms of this are stuck on the inside of the cupboard door for staff reference.
We continue to use a range of strategies to keep children safe online whilst they are at the setting. These measures include checking apps, websites and search results before using them with children and supervising children when they are accessing the internet.
Children must bring their own hats, jumpers etc to the setting to avoid borrowing setting supplies and risking cross contamination.
Pushchairs will be used by the child owner only. Their handles will be disinfected before being stored for the duration of the child’s session.

Malleable resources
Malleable materials such as sand, water, mud and playdough can be used for messy play.
These resources will be fully risk assessed prior to using them. The risk assessment will ensure that these resources will:
be replaced after use if they cannot be cleaned according to  manufacturers instructions
surfaces, tools and implements used will be cleaned and dried carefully after use
hands are washed before and after using the resources

 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
Consideration and planning will be given to re-adjusting children with SEND back into the setting. We are aware that for these children, settling back into routines may be particularly challenging.
We are vigilant to the fact that there may be children with additional or worsened social emotional and mental health needs as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), and that there may also be children who have fallen further behind their peers as a result of time out of Stepping Stones, or missed diagnosis as a result of the period of absence.
We will ensure that we have the staffing levels to support children with SEND at safe ratios and our SENCO continues in her role.
We will continue to cooperate with the local authority in the performance of its SEND duties during this period.

Singing and musical activities
We will continue to plan and carry out singing and musical activities as these activities build confidence, help children live happier, more enriched lives, and discover ways to express themselves. However, we will put the following measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission:
playing instruments and singing in groups will take place outdoors wherever possible
if indoors, we will use the large hall if possible as high ceilings are expected to enable dilution of aerosol transmission

We will implement the following measures to reduce the risk whilst using musical equipment:
increased handwashing before and after handling equipment
avoiding sharing instruments - each child to have their own
instruments will be placed in a collection point after use and disinfected 

Drop off / pick up time
Stepping Stones is aware of potential ‘pinch points’ during the day and knows that drop off and pick up times are likely to be the main times at which possible adult to adult transmission could occur.
Only one parent / carer is able to accompany the child to the setting and pick them up at the end of the day
Parents and carers are informed of pick up and drop off times and the new protocols to minimise the risk of adult to adult transmission.
The doors will open at 2.50 for a staggered pick up until 3pm to reduce congestion.
Parents / carers are requested not to gather at entrances or doors
Parents / carers will not be able to accompany their child into the building. They will hand their child and their belongings over to a member of staff by glass door at the top of the ramp
Reminders about drop off and pick up procedures are sent out via email and Facebook.
Parents / carers are encouraged to walk or cycle with their child to the setting. Where this is not possible and public transport is used, government guidance on staying safe on public transport is shared with parents / carers.
Children will be signed in and out by staff once they have entered the setting / been picked up by their parent / carer.
Parents / carers are asked not to let their child bring in toys / resources from home (unless it is a comforter) – they can put pictures of things they would like their child’s Key Worker to see on Tapestry. 

Parents and children travelling to the setting
Stepping Stones advises parents and children to travel to the setting by bike, scooter or on foot.
We are aware that some parents may need to use public transport (bus) to come to the setting as they live in neighbouring villages.
Should this be the case, parents will be given the following advice:
To travel off peak when the buses are less busy
Pay for tickets using contactless payments
To avoid starting or ending their journey at a busy bus stop
Avoid physical contact with other passengers
Face away from other passengers
Be aware of which surfaces you are touching – minimise what you touch
Do not touch your face
Cover your mouth or nose with a tissue / elbow if coughing / sneezing
Avoid eating or drinking on the bus until the bus has been disembarked and hands washed for 20 seconds with soap and water
Carry hand sanitiser with a minimum 60% alcohol content to use immediately upon leaving the bus, and wash hands for 20 seconds with soap as soon as possible after arriving home.
Wear a face covering whilst on public transport. Information on how to make and wear a face covering can be found in ‘how to wear and make a cloth face covering’. It is not recommended for children under the age of 3 to wear a face covering.  It is not expected for children under the age of 11 to wear a face covering on public transport. Face coverings can be washed along with other laundry, using normal detergent. Any face covering worn by a child whilst they are on their way to Stepping Stones needs to be taken home by the parent after they have dropped their child off. It should not be left at the setting.
Parents travelling on the bus will be signposted to the following link for more information:

Temporary changes to the Attendance Policy
This would be implemented ONLY should we be unable to fully staff Stepping Stones. It is part of our contingency plan.
If necessary, children will be offered places at Stepping Stones in this order of priority:
1. Vulnerable children and the children of critical workers:
those who have been assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child 
those who have an education, health and care (EHC) plan and it is determined, following risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the setting 
those who have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who are therefore in need of continued education provision - this might include children on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services and adopted children and others at the provider and local authority’s discretion 
children whose parents are identified critical workers on this list:
2. 3 and 4 year olds who will be transitioning to reception in September 2021 (Stepping Up group)
3. Younger age groups.

Staff training
The Manager will regularly monitor the training available to staff and enable staff to complete Covid-19 training that is relevant to their role. 
Four members of staff have successfully completed training entitled ‘Infection Prevention and Control in an Early Years Setting’ (through Educare and Early Years Alliance) and ‘Prevent Covid-19’ (through the Virtual College).
Further staff training will be done virtually where possible. Any training that needs a face to face element included for legal reasons will be completed through a Covid secure provider.

Communication with parents and carers
Parents / carers have been informed about this policy, risk assessments and procedures. They will be informed of subsequent reviews to the policies and procedures on a regular basis. Any reviewed policies and procedures will be uploaded onto our Facebook page and website in the place of the outdated policies. 

Talking to children about coronavirus
Resources which could help parents / carers talk to their child about coronavirus and the changes it has brought about are shared by the setting. One such resource is a CBeebies programme on this link: There are also ideas on and

Actions to be taken if a child’s normal setting needs to close
A child moving to Stepping Stones because their setting has closed
If a child moves to Stepping Stones because their normal setting has closed, important information should be provided by the parent or carer to Stepping Stones on day one. This includes emergency contact details, dietary requirements and medical needs to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the child.
If Stepping Stones needs to close
In the case of vulnerable children, Stepping Stones would notify the local authority (and social worker, where relevant) that these vulnerable children need alternative provision. We would work with the families of vulnerable children and local authorities (and social workers, where relevant) to support this.
We would do whatever we reasonably can to provide the receiving setting with any relevant welfare and child protection information
We would make the receiving setting aware of the reason the child is vulnerable and any arrangements in place to support them. As a minimum, the receiving setting should, as appropriate, have access to a vulnerable child’s EHC plan, child in need plan, child protection plan or, for looked-after children, their personal education plan, and know who the child’s social worker is (and, for looked-after children, know who the responsible virtual school head is)
The transfer of necessary information should ideally happen before a child arrives at the new setting and, where that is not possible, as soon as reasonably practicable. Any exchanges of information will ideally happen between the designated safeguarding leads (or deputies), and between special educational needs co-ordinators (SENCOs) or named individual with oversight of special educational needs provision for children with EHC plans
While Stepping Stones must continue to have appropriate regard to data protection and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), this does not prevent the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe.

This policy was adopted at a meeting of _________________________________
Held on (date) ________________________________
Signed on behalf of the Management Committee  __________________________
Role of signatory (e.g. Chairperson etc) ________________________________

Appendices to this policy
Covid procedures
Covid symptom information
Paediatric Multi System Inflammatory Syndrome symptom information
PHE 11606 Putting on PPE 062 
Quick guide to donning and doffing standard PPE
Resources risk assessment