Safe Operating Procedure

Updated 24 June 2021

Our Safe Operating Procedure contains details of the protective measures we have put in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus to our staff, children and their families. It outlines how we support staff and children’s well-being as they adapt to a ‘new normal’, whilst maintaining the warm, welcoming and happy environment we have always provided.

The government acknowledge that it is very difficult to socially distance young children in an Early Years setting, however, with some sensible and realistic precautions, we can minimise the risks.   We have developed these Safe Operating Procedures based on guidance from Public Health England and the Department of Education guidance for educational settings and their key workers.

You can download our Covid-19 Risk Assessment here:

EAST Covid-19 Risk Assessment


All children are welcome to attend the setting providing that they, or anyone in their household are not displaying symptoms of Covid-10.

Symptoms include:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If a child is displaying any of these symptoms, they will not be permitted to attend nursery until they have completed the required isolation period (10 days), or a negative test result has been received (proof of this must be provided).

If a member of a child’s household displays symptoms, the child will not be able to return to nursery until the required isolation period of 10 days has been completed, or a negative test result has been received.

If you or a member of your household is contacted by the Test and Trace programme, the contacted individual must self-isolate. If the contacted individual displays symptoms, everyone in their household must also self-isolate. Prompt exclusion is essential to prevent the spread of infection.

It is preferable that your child only attends one setting to avoid mixing with different groups and minimise the risks within the settings.

Asymptomatic testing programme:

All nursery staff test for Covid-19 using the rapid lateral flow testing device. Staff test themselves twice-weekly, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, before work.

Travelling to nursery:

Wherever possible, staff, parents and children should travel by car, bike or walk.  If public transport is necessary, current guidance on the use of public transport must be adhered to.

Drop off and Collection of children:

The nursery is open from 8am – 6pm. We ask parents to pick up their children by 5.30pm, if possible, so staff can use the additional time to deep clean the resources and equipment in their rooms.

We operate a 1 in, 1 out system for parents/carers dropping off and collecting their child.  Parents/carers must wear a face mask and apply hand sanitiser (which is in a dispenser on the wall) as they enter the nursery. Children will wash their hands when they enter their room.

Parents must maintain social distancing and minimise contact with staff, other parents and children whenever possible.

Staff to wear masks when parents are handing over children at drop off and pick up times.

Temperature and symptom monitoring:

Following government guidance, children and staff will not have their temperature tested on arrival at nursery each day. Guidelines inform us that a more effective method is to feel the chest and back. If we suspect that a child or staff member has a fever, their temperature will then be taken and monitored.

Items from home:

Items from home (e.g., toys, books) should be appropriately cleaned on arrival.

Parents are asked not to bring travel accessories, including buggies and car seats, into the foyer.  Please take buggies away with you as we cannot store buggies at nursery.   Scooters will be allowed in the foyer.

Social distancing / grouping

The government acknowledge that it is very difficult to socially distance young children in an early years setting, however, with some sensible and realistic precautions, we can minimise the risks.

Playrooms and groups:

Staff to adhere to social distancing at all times, wherever possible, both in and outside the playrooms.

We are not required to keep children in small, consistent groups within the setting – we can have normal group sizes. However, we will continue to minimise mixing within the setting by keeping rooms apart as much as possible.  We will use existing partitions to create separate spaces for the groups.

We will use age and developmentally appropriate ways to encourage children to follow social distancing, hand-washing and other guidance, including through games, songs and stories.

Meal times:
  • Children will stay in their room to eat their meal and will not mix with other groups
  • Staff will ensure food, cups and cutlery are not shared
  • Water bottles will be personalised with a picture to make them easy for children to recognise.
  • Flannels to be washed after each use at high temperatures
Communal areas: 

We will maintain small groups when moving through the nursery (e.g. from room to foyer). Groups will not mix or gather in the foyer or by entrances.

The 6-seater buggies will be placed in the lobby to be used for upstairs groups only.  Blossom and Willow children and staff will no longer cross the Chestnut and Oak room to go out, instead they will use the front door


Staff to wear face coverings (masks or visors) in all communal areas where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Staff to avoid small spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained.

Staff breaks to be staggered throughout the day.

Staff to not enter the kitchen unless it is essential and they can maintain social distancing.  Only one member of staff at a time allowed in the kitchen with the chef.

Children’s well-being

Children will be supported to understand the changes and challenges they may be encountering as a result of Covid-19. We recognise that supporting children’s attachments and providing emotional support is especially important at this time.

We will support children by:

  • Providing a range of fun and engaging activities throughout the day for the children to enjoy.
  • Carers will give children cuddles when needed.
  • Make handwashing fun by using songs and stories.
  • Support children’s emotional health and wellbeing using ‘A Box Full of Feelings’ and other activities.
  • Books and activities for young children that explain social distancing, handwashing in an age appropriate way.
Visitors to the setting

We will restrict all visits to the nursery to those that are absolutely necessary.


We will aim to organise groups of children who are due to transition so they can transition together.

Meetings and open-door policy:

Under normal circumstances we have an open-door policy for parents to come in a speak to a manager. However, due to Covid-19 and social distancing, it will not be possible to invite parents into the office.  Parents can however, arrange a meeting by phone, if they wish to discuss their child’s development, or if they have any concerns which they wish to discuss.

Prospective parents:

Any families wishing to look around the setting with a view to starting at the nursery, will be required to book in for a suitable time with the nursery manager. Only one adult will be permitted to attend. They will not be permitted to enter any of the nursery rooms. The nursery manager will socially distance from them throughout the show-round

Progress checks for 2-year-olds:

Progress checks for 2-year-olds are currently suspended.

Health, Hygiene and Safety

It is recognised that good hygiene and cleaning practices will significantly reduce the spread and transmission of the virus, as well as everyone being alert to symptoms.


We will ensure that there is adequate ventilation in the nursery by opening the doors and windows as much as possible.


Modified and extended cleaning routines have been implemented throughout the nursery, including in the nursery rooms, kitchen, toilets and washing facilities and communal areas such as stairs and corridors.  We employ two cleaners who clean the nursery throughout, in the evenings (Mon – Fri).  Cleaning schedules and rotas are in place for staff and cleaners to follow.


Children and staff will wash their hands frequently through the day, including every time they leave and re-enter the building.  Children will be encouraged to sing our handwashing song, to ensure that their hands are fully washed for the required length of time.

Hand sanitisers have been positioned at all entrances to the setting.

Use of Tissues:

Children will be supported in age appropriate ways to understand the steps they can take to keep themselves and others safe and this includes coughing or sneezing into a tissue, (or their arm if immediate).  They will be encouraged to dispose of the tissue in a bin straight away and then wash their hands.  Where children are not able to wipe their own noses, staff will assist them and then wash or sanitise their own hands each time.

Toileting and nappy changing:
  • Staff can wear disposable gloves and aprons when changing nappies if they wish.
  • Staff to dispose of gloves safely and wash their hands thoroughly after each nappy change.
  • Staff should only change nappies of children in their group.
  • Toilet areas and hand washing facilities will be cleaned frequently during the day and after each group has used them.
  • Accidents are cleaned up immediately and area is cleaned using disinfectant
Sleep time:
  • Staff distance beds and cots where possible.
  • Rooms will be well ventilated.
  • Bedding is not shared by children and it is washed regularly at high temperatures.
Risk Assessments:

All risk assessments will reflect the risk of transmission of Covid-19.  Certain activities have been adapted or removed to reflect the risk, e.g. trips to the local shops

Resources at nursery:

Toys and resources that are difficult to clean will be removed, including cushions and soft toys.  The children will only share toys and activities within their groups.  We will aim to sanitise items at the end of each day.

Equipment used by staff, e.g. pens and iPads will be wipes after use.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE):

Government guidance is that PPE is not required for general use in nurseries to protect against Covid-19 transmission.  Hand washing, effective cleaning and social distancing are the most effective measures.

  • Staff to wear face coverings (mask or visor) in all communal areas where social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Staff to wear face coverings (masks or visors) in the staff room (unless staff are eating) and when entering the office.
  • Staff can wear disposable gloves and aprons when changing nappies if they wish. Staff must dispose of gloves safely and wash hands thoroughly after each nappy change.
  • Staff to wear disposable gloves and aprons when preparing and serving food and when administer first aid (e.g. treating cuts and grazes)
  • Cleaners to wear disposable gloves and aprons.
  • If a child has a suspected case of coronavirus whilst at nursery, the supervising adult must wear the appropriate PPE while waiting for the child to be collected.
  • Cleaners must wear PPE when cleaning after a suspected case of coronavirus.
  • Staff must remove PPE with care, dispose of carefully and wash hands for 20 seconds after removing.

Daily Curriculum

Extra-curricular activities
  • The older children take part in Forest School sessions in their groups at the local parks on Wednesdays (Millfields and Hackney Downs).
  • Football sessions will take place at the park. The coach will wear a mask and socially distance from staff and children.
  • From 29 March, music sessions with Double Bass Dan will resume. Dan will socially distance from children and staff (2 meters) during his visits.


Outings to the local parks
  • We will maintain small groups when moving through nursery (e.g. from room to foyer). Groups are not to mix or gather in foyer or by
  • All outings will be risk assessed, giving due consideration to any adaptions to usual practice.
  • Outings from the nursery will be to open spaces such as the local parks and will not include mixing with the general
  • Outings to the library and shop will be stopped until further notice.
  • Staff will take the emergency rucksack on outings with gloves, anti-bacterial wipes and masks in it
  • Hand wipes and sanitiser taken on outing. Staff to be aware of high touch surfaces e.g. gates and avoid communal areas
  • Outings will be staggered so that groups/rooms remain separate.
  • Buggies and six-seater buggies will be wiped clean after each use.
  • Staff and children will wash their hands when they return to the nursery.
  • Equipment taken to the park, such as hoops and balls, will not be shared between groups and will be cleaned after use.
Playground visits
  • Children to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after playground visits.
  • Staff to wipe down ‘high touch’ playground equipment (e.g. swing rockers, slide) with anti-bacterial wipes before and after use.
  • Hand wipes will be taken on outing to clean children’s hands during the outing and after using playground equipment
  • Staff and children to follow current social distancing guidelines when visiting playground and only use at quiet times.

Responding to a person displaying symptoms of Covid-19

Everyone is now eligible for a Covid-19 test, should they display coronavirus symptoms.  Any suspected or confirmed case must be reported to the nursery manager as soon as possible.

A child displaying symptoms
  • If a child begins displaying a continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home to isolate in accordance with the guidelines. We ask parents to collect their child as quickly as possible.
  • While a child is awaiting collection, they will be moved to the office where they can be isolated behind a closed door with an appropriate adult. A window will be opened for ventilation.
  • The supervising adult must wear the appropriate PPE whilst waiting for child to be collected.  Further guidance: Symptomatic children action list – EARLY YEARS
  • If they need to go to the toilet while waiting to be collected, they will use a separate toilet if possible. The toilet should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone
A member of staff displaying symptoms
  • If a member of staff develops symptoms of Covid-19 (new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of smell and taste) whilst at nursery, they will immediately be sent home to self-isolate for the required incubation They must get tested at the earliest possible opportunity.
If there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in the nursery:
  • Parents will be immediately informed
  • Where the child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class/group will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 10 days. (The other household members of that wider class/group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops)
  • All staff and students who are attending the setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus
  • Positive tests will be reported to Public Health England by the nursery manager.
  • If other cases are detected within the setting, Public Health England’s local Health Protection Teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise on the most appropriate action to take.
Further guidance:

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

Asymptomatic testing: early years staff in different settings – GOV.UK (

What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges

Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care

Supporting children’s and young people’s mental health and well-being during the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications

Covid-19 decontamination in non-healthcare settings