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NEWS: Omicron - Further advice for childminders in England

Following the emergence of the new Omicron variant, PACEY sought clarification from the Department for Education on how the measures announced last week against the variant will affect childminding settings.   

Below we have outlined additional advice for PACEY members in England relating to travel restrictions and quarantine and what to do if a childminder or their household member is identified as a close contact of an Omicron case. You can find all the updated advice relating to Omicron in our Coronavirus FAQs

1. If a childminder lives with someone who has returned from abroad (not from a red list country) and is quarantining at home while they wait for their PCR test result, can a childminder still operate?  

Yes. A childminder does not need to close their setting if someone in the household is quarantining as a result of travel from a country that is not on the red list, as long as the person quarantining has no contact with the children and they follow the travel guidance How to quarantine at home after international travel.   

 As soon as the person arrives at their place of quarantine they should, as far as possible, avoid contact with other people in the place where they’re quarantining to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. If the person quarantining or anyone else in the household develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus, then the childminder cannot continue working at home and should follow the guidance for childminders with a self-isolating household member.  

2. Do childminders have to close their settings and self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone with the Omicron variant?   

Yes, if you live with, or have been in close contact with, someone who may have the Omicron variant of COVID-19, you’ll need to self-isolate. NHS Test and Trace will contact you if this is the case. Even if you do not have symptoms, you should still:  

 More information is available in When to self-isolate and what to do - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

3. If a member of the childminder’s household has to self-isolate as a close contact of Omicron, can they stay open?  

This guidance applies where a childminder looks after children on domestic premises (usually in the childminder’s own home), and a person living at the premises has been advised to self-isolate because they are a close contact of a positive case (for example, because they are over 18 and 6 months and they are unvaccinated) and the following applies:  

  • the positive case does not normally or currently reside at the domestic premises where the childminding is taking place   
  • the close contact is not showing any of the main symptoms of COVID-19: a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.  

You can continue to provide childcare at your registered setting as long as the household member who is self-isolating does not have any contact with the children being cared for in the setting. For example, the person self-isolating must use a separate bathroom where possible. If the person self-isolating has to use a shared bathroom or other communal areas, these must be thoroughly cleaned after every use.

Other considerations 

Childminders should make every effort to notify parents and carers of the children attending the setting, and any assistants working on the premises in the setting about the circumstances (e.g. notifying them about a quarantine or self-isolation period) as soon as reasonably possible and maintain open communication with them throughout that period.  

Risk Assessments 

You must comply with health and safety law by reviewing your risk assessment. The risk assessment must demonstrate:  

  • that the provision of childcare in your setting is safe,   
  • how it aligns with the control measures set out in the guidance for early years settings 
  • how you will put into place any additional but proportionate measures (i.e. those set out in outbreak management plan / contingency framework) 

You should have active arrangements in place to monitor whether the measures you have put in place are effective, working as planned, and updated appropriately (for example when any issues are identified, or when there are changes in public health advice).   

PACEY members in England can access our sample and template Covid-19 paperwork here. This includes advice on Covid-specific risk assessments and what you should include in your setting’s outbreak management plan. 

Further Government guidance is available: actions for early years and childcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic,  COVID-19: cleaning in non-healthcare settings outside the home, and Health and safety: responsibilities and duties for schools.