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NEWS: Face covering guidance to remain until 17 May at earliest

Yesterday (6 April) the government announced that guidance around the use of face coverings in education settings will continue after the Easter break in England. This means that staff and adult visitors, as well as pupils in Year 7 and above should use face coverings in the ‘recommended circumstances’ set out in the Face coverings in education guidance.

The government is not recommending universal use of face coverings in early years and childcare settings in England because the system of controls provides additional mitigating measures. However adults in settings should use a face covering where social distancing is not possible with another adult - the DfE has advised that this relates to ‘communal areas, but not classrooms’. Children under 11 years are not required to wear a face covering. We have received queries from PACEY members around whether a face covering is needed when working with staff (for example an assistant) in the setting. We would advise that if you work with an assistant you are best placed to decide if you need to use a face covering or not, alongside the other controls in place including regular home testing of yourself and staff members. More information can be found in the guidance for early years settings.

The latest guidance on face coverings is expected to be in place until at least 17 May in line with step 3 of the easing of lockdown restrictions, depending on a review of the data and evidence at the time. By then, those in the first nine priority groups in the vaccination programme are expected to have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile other precautionary measures in early years and childcare settings should continue, including regular Covid-19 testing, social distancing where possible and increased hygiene and ventilation. The government recommends that early years and childcare practitioners in England, as well as families and households should continue with twice-weekly rapid testing throughout the Easter holidays and into the summer term. Tests should be taken before returning to settings in summer term (the night before, morning of or first day back) to find and isolate any positive cases and help prevent potential outbreaks. All results should be reported online as positive, negative or void.