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Provision for young children guidance

How to minimise risk of spreading coronavirus in Nursery, Reception and Year 1 classes

This guidance should be read alongside the most recent DFE information, and the Norfolk County Council health and safety guidance. It is not a replacement for your school's risk assessment documentor for agreed school policies. It provides some practical, and age appropriate,suggestions for minimising the risk of infection for both children and adults attending nursery, reception and year 1.

Guidance relating to this document, from DFE and NCC Health and Safety Risk Assessment Document

  • Ensure that sufficient handwashing facilities are available. Where a sink is not nearby, provide hand sanitiser in classrooms and other learning environments
  • Clean surfaces that children and young people are touching, such as toys, books, desks, chairs, doors, sinks, toilets, light switches, bannisters, more regularly than normal (remove any items difficult to clean and keep clean)
  • Ensure that all adults and children:
    • Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly
    • Clean their hands on arrival at the setting, before and after eating, after going to the toilet, before and after using shared resources such as toys, books and equipment, after sneezing or coughing and before going home
    • Are encouraged not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
    • Use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze and use bins for tissue waste ('catch it, bin it, kill it')
  • Ensure that help is available for children and young people who have trouble cleaning their hands independently
  • Consider how to encourage young children to learn and practise these habits through games, songs and repetition
  • Where possible, all spaces should be well ventilated using natural ventilation (opening windows) or fresh air ventilation units
  • Prop doors open, where safe to do so (bearing in mind fire safety and safeguarding), to limit use of door handles and aid ventilation
  • There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in an educational or childcare setting
  • Rooms have been organised to encourage social distancing, tables and chairs are moved apart in order for pupils to spread out and arranged to enable sitting side to side and not face to face. Where it is not possible to move furniture, seats are taped off/marked as not to be used to support social distancing
  • Staff are paired consistently for two person activities e.g. supervision, teaching, personal care
  • The same teachers and other staff are assigned to each class group, and where possible for the same day and subsequent days
  • Where possible pupils use the same desk each day where they attend on consecutive days
  • Age-appropriate education is used to encourage pupils to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread
  • An assessment has been made of close contact (within 2 m) interactions and these have been reduced as much as is possible
  • Interactions take place side to side instead of face to face where it is possible
  • Classroom based activities have been reviewed and modified to support social distancing

I am 4 years old / 5 years old / 6 years old:

  • I am not always very expert at wiping my nose, or at catching a sneeze or cough in my elbow
  • I like to use several senses to explore my environment and this may include sniffing or mouthing objects
  • I chew my fingers (and worse!) and then touch my surroundings
  • I am good at learning new information and routines and can remember what I need to do to keep safe, with adult support
  • I may find it difficult separating from my parent when I first come into school, this might be because my siblings do not have to come back to school and will be at home
  • I may be anxious or excited and want to be close to adults / other children
  • I may think that things will be the same as they were at school, before the current situation
  • I am used to being encouraged to work and play with my friends and may find it difficult to remember to keep a little distance
  • I might expect to/want to be with my teacher/teaching assistant/keyworker, but they may not be in my group
  • I am used to working in active ways and find it difficult to sit for periods of time
  • I will need time and support to get used to new rules that might be in place in school

Some suggested strategies to minimise risk and enable understanding, for young children

Teach children how to wash their hands effectively; reinforce and practise this every morning when they arrive at school. Make handwashing playful and fun by singing a hand washing song or rhyme. Don't forget to practise drying hands thoroughly too.

Involve parents and families in your hand washing routine so that it is enjoyable to do both at home and at school.

Involve children in making the new rules and use repetitive games to remember them.

Declutter the learning environment (paying particular attention to items that are hard to clean) and organise a range of key resources so that they are easily accessible and can be used in areas with plenty of space. Children can share resources, making sure to wash hands when they finish. The resources will need to be cleaned at the end of the day they are used. Use different resources on consecutive days, to ease the frequency of cleaning.

Provide each child with a container/bagfull of their own essential resources. This might include pencils, crayons, pens, scissors, glue-sticks and small sets of materials for counting, an explorer's kit, a note book or a special story etc. The basic resources in the kit might remain constant but sets of additional objects could be changed each week to keep interest high (leaving such resources aside for 72 hours before giving to another child to use will significantly reduce the risk), depending on the children's needs and interests. These could be used in conjunction with any shared resources.

Small washable pieces, such as Lego, can be secured in a pillow case and washed in a dishwasher or washing machine. Natural materials, small world toys, wooden bricks, and similar can be washed and left to drain overnight. Materials from outside, such as leaves, pebbles and sticks can be discarded after use or washed and left to dry in the sun.

Make a small collection of story books for each day of the week and rotate them so that you need not clean each book for the following day.

Teach the children how to wash some of the resources they have used, before they are put away.

Use areas in the classroom for children to space out in. Play games with the children to help them to think about the space around them and others. Encourage them to extend their arms to see if they can touch anyone around them. There is no need to sit children at desks to do this.

Consider the activities available to the children during the staggered drop off and pick up times, when there are fewer adults available for the group.

Use activities to enable the children to understand the reasons for socially distancing, eg experiment with observing water droplets, using sprays; discuss misty breath on a window or the wet feel of breath on the back of their hand; use activities described in the Annex C of Planning Guide for Primary Schools from the DfE.

Ensure there are enough adults in each group to cover all situations that may arise, such as an adult needing to take a break, a child soiling themselves, a child who needs time away from the group, etc.

Give the children problem solving activities related to developing social and emotional skills. Talk and listen to children to enable them to understand and process the situation. This can be done while playing alongside them, it does not have to be in a formal way.

Enable the children to laugh, explore, be active, make choices and relax.

Working outside has lots of benefits, including fewer surfaces to clean at the end of the day!

Ensure that parents know what is happening in school, understand why you have put things in place and can feel confident that their children are as safe and happy as possible.

Activity ideas will be shared shortly.