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NEWS: Step 4 measures announced for early years and childcare settings in England

In line with “Step 4" of the roadmap to end lockdown restrictions in England (which is expected to begin on 19 July) the Government has confirmed changes to the measures that education settings in England should take. With this announcement, the Government aims to “maintain a baseline of protective measures while maximising attendance and minimising disruption to children and young people’s education”.

From Step 4, children will no longer need to be in consistent ‘bubbles’, recommendations around the use of face coverings will end, and settings will not be required to routinely carry out contact tracing. Instead, those children who have been in contact with a positive Covid-19 case will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

If there is a local outbreak, settings may be advised to work with local health protection teams to carry out contact tracing and temporarily reintroduce some control measures. 

From 16 August, the legal requirement to self-isolate for close contacts of coronavirus cases will end for people under 18 years of age and fully vaccinated adults. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and only need to isolate if they test positive for coronavirus.

The Department for Education has outlined these new measures in updated guidance published today for early years and childcare settings to follow from Step 4 onwards. PACEY will be updating its Coronavirus FAQs in line with this latest guidance. 

Helen Donohoe, Policy Advisor at PACEY comments:

“Today’s announcement is positive news for the many children who have faced disruption to their education and development due to having to isolate under the current measures. However, this does not mean that the risk of coronavirus has disappeared, and the announcement is likely to be worrying for the early years and childcare settings that are already seeing a rise in cases, which may be exacerbated by the proposed measures.

“We will be working closely with the Department for Education to explore how the new measures can ensure that practitioners can achieve a balance between maximising their health and safety and that of their own families and the families using their provision, whilst minimising the long term disruption to their business that coronavirus is likely to continue to cause. The DfE has published guidance as we move to the next phase and PACEY will ensure our members are fully informed and enabled to make the right decisions for their setting.’’