COVID-19 Policy

This COVID-19 policy details COVID-19 arrangements for Safeguarding and Child Protection at St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup. This Policy addendum is effective from February 2021 and will be reviewed regularly.   Download in pdf

Context

This addendum of the St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup Safeguarding, and Child Protection policy contains details of our individual safeguarding arrangements in the following areas:

Content Table

Context 2

Key contacts. 3

Vulnerable children. 3

Attendance monitoring. 4

Designated Safeguarding Lead. 4

Reporting a concern. 5

Safeguarding Training and induction. 5

Safer recruitment 5

Supporting children who are not attending. 5

Considerations for closure of our early years provision. 6

Recording confirmed coronavirus cases. 6

Managing confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the setting. 6

Notify Ofsted. 7

Key contacts

Remain as per our Safeguarding Policy.

Vulnerable children

Vulnerable children and young people include those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child;
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan;
  • have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), this might include:
    • children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred to children’s services
    • adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
    • those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
    • those living in temporary accommodation
    • those who are young carers
    • those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
    • care leavers
    • others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health.

For more information, refer to guidance Children of critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings, 2021.

The management team, especially the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) and deputy know who our most vulnerable children are.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will continue to work with and support early help practitioners and children’s social workers in protecting our vulnerable children. This includes working with outside agencies such as: Early Help, Children’s Services and the Early Years team for monitoring looked-after and previously looked-after children.

There is an expectation that vulnerable children will attend an educational setting, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at increased risk.

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, 2021.

In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an educational setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup any other professional involved with the family will explore the reasons for this directly with the parent.

Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting COVID19, St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup or any other professional involved with the family will talk through these anxieties with the parent/carer following the advice set out by Public Health England. Parents will be signposted to the DfE Helpline if necessary.

Attendance monitoring

All children for whom on-site provision is being provided should be recorded in line with our attendance procedures. Please refer to the attendance policy.

We follow the SCV/ Vulnerable Attendance Flowchart.

We follow government guidance on shielding for children who are deemed as clinically extremely vulnerable.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup and social workers will agree with parents/carers whether children in need should be attending – St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will then follow up on any children that they were expecting to attend, who does not.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will also follow up with any parent or carer who has confirmed their child’s attendance and subsequently do not attend. Phone calls will be made to the parents/carers in these circumstances.

To support the above, St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will when communicating with parents/carers and carers, confirm emergency contact numbers are correct and ask for any additional emergency contact numbers where they are available.

In all circumstances where a vulnerable child does not take up their place at nursery, or discontinues, St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will notify their social worker or any other professional involved with the family.

Designated Safeguarding Lead

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup has a Designated Safeguarding Person who co-ordinates child young people and vulnerable adult protection issues. When the setting is open, but the designated person is not on site, a suitably trained deputy is available at all times for staff to discuss safeguarding concerns. The Designated officer (usually the registered person) will oversee and support the Designated Person/ Deputy.

If a trained Designated safeguarding lead (or deputy) is not available on site, they will be available to be contacted via phone or online video – for example when working from home.

Where a trained Designated safeguarding lead (or deputy) is not on site, in addition to the above, a member of the management team will assume responsibility for co-ordinating safeguarding on site.

This might include updating and managing access to child protection files, liaising with the offsite Designated lead (or deputy) and as required communicating with children’s social care and other agencies.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup staff and volunteers will have access to a trained Designated lead (or deputy).

The Designated safeguarding lead will continue to engage with social care, and attend all multi-agency meetings, which can be done remotely. Each case will be recorded using the Case Conference format for sharing information at these meetings.

Reporting a concern

Where staff have a concern about a child, they should continue to follow the process outlined in our Safeguarding Policy. Staff are reminded of the need to report any concern immediately and without delay.

Where staff are concerned about an adult working with children in our provision, they should follow the reporting process outlined in our safeguarding policy.  

Safeguarding Training and induction

All staff have had safeguarding training. The Designated lead should communicate with staff any new local arrangements, so they know what to do if they are worried about a child.

Where new staff are recruited, or new volunteers start at St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup, they will be provided with a safeguarding induction. They will be given a copy of our child protection policy, explained about local processes and informed of designated safeguarding arrangements.

Safer recruitment

When recruiting new staff and volunteers, St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will follow the relevant safer recruitment processes. We will follow the checking and risk assessment processes for volunteers. Volunteers are not left unsupervised.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will follow the legal duty to refer to the DBS anyone who has harmed or poses a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup will keep the single central record up to date.

Supporting children who are not attending

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all its Children.

Where the Designated lead has identified a child to be on the edge of social care support, we will ensure that a robust communication record plan is in place for that child.

The communication record plan will include all contact with the parent/ child; phone contact, door-step visits (if applicable and safe), and other individualised contact methods.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup and its Designated lead will work closely with their line manager to maximise the effectiveness of any communication plan.

This plan will be reviewed regularly and where concerns arise, the Designated lead will consider any referrals as appropriate.

St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup recognises that early years providers are a protective factor for children, and the current circumstances, can affect the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and their parents/carers.

Considerations for closure of our early years provision

Closures have been raising both nationally and locally in Early Years settings this obviously has disrupted education for children. Advice has been sort from many providers from the Early Years and Childcare service about what can be done to avoid closures. Refer to Nursery closures document for more information.

Where St. Mary’s Osterley Playgroup has concerns about the impact of staff absence (such as our Designated Safeguarding Person or first aiders), we will discuss them immediately with the registered person and the Early Years Team if considering closure.

Recording confirmed coronavirus cases

This record is to support you in any confirmed coronavirus cases so when you email publichealth@hounslow.gov.uk and contact the DFE designated line for reporting a positive case you will have all the information you need.

Some key considerations taken from DFE Guidance: Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, 2021.

Managing confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the setting

Settings must take swift action when they become aware that someone who has attended has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must call the DfE helpline on 0800 046 8687 and select the option for reporting a positive case. This team will work with settings to carry out a rapid risk assessment to confirm who has been in close contact with the person during the period that they were infectious, and ensure they are asked to self-isolate. They will also work with settings in this situation to guide them through the actions they need to take. Based on the advice, settings should send home those people who have been in close contact with the person/child who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with that person when they were infectious.

Close contact means:

  • direct close contacts – face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, or unprotected physical contact (skin to skin)
  • proximity contacts – extended close contact (within 1-2m for more than 15 minutes) with an infected individual travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person

The DFE advisory team will provide definitive advice on who must be sent home.

To support them in doing so, they recommend settings keep a record of:

  • children and staff in specific groups/rooms (where applicable)
  • close contact that takes places between children and staff in different groups/rooms

A template letter will be provided to settings, to send to parents, carers and staff if needed. Settings must not share the names or details of people with coronavirus (COVID-19) unless essential to protect others.

Household members of those who are sent home do not need to self-isolate unless the child or staff member who is self-isolating subsequently develops symptoms. If someone in a group that has been asked to self-isolate develops symptoms themselves within their 14-day isolation period, they should follow COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stayat-home-guidance ). They should get a test, and if the test delivers a negative result, they must remain in isolation for the remainder of the 14-day isolation period. This is because they could still develop the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the remaining days if the test result is positive, they should inform their setting immediately, and must isolate for at least 7 days from the onset of their symptoms (which could mean the self-isolation ends before or after the original 14-day isolation period).

Their household should self-isolate for at least 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms, following COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance).

Settings should not request evidence of negative test results or other medical evidence before admitting children or welcoming them back after a period of self-isolation.

Further guidance is available on Testing and tracing for coronavirus (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/).

Notify Ofsted

Any confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the setting (either child or staff member), and/or if the setting is advised to close as a result, should be swiftly reported to Ofsted through the usual notification channels.