How to Manage COVID-19 Bubbles in the Early Years

A short guide to help you get organised.
June 3, 2020
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With Famly since

  • Creating bubbles within your early years setting are an essential part of the DfE’s reopening guidance for settings in England.
  • They’re a way to ensure that the same staff and children stay together, and in doing so, reduce the chance of transmission of COVID-19.
  • This guide was produced and contributed by the Early Years COVID Response Group, a group of 70 nursery providers who have come together during these times to support each other.

What is a bubble?

A way of grouping children at our nurseries, keeping children and staff safe during the time of coronavirus by organising them into ‘Bubbles’.
During lockdown children and adults were in a bubble in their home, within their home bubble they didn’t need to socially distance from the other members of their household. The concept of a nursery bubble is an extension of the home bubble. In a nursery bubble a group of children and staff are grouped together every time they are in the nursery and their interaction and contact with other bubbles is restricted as much as possible.

Why have a bubble?

  • A nursery with for example, 45 children and 13 staff members, could be split into three bubbles reducing the number of children and staff members each child and staff member comes into contact with.
  • Reduce risk of transmission in children and adults.
  • Effectively manage instances of COVID-19 in the nursery.
  • Reassure parents as to the control measures you are using.
  • Reassure staff that their health & wellbeing is being planned for.
  • Provides organisation and clear responsibility for staff in guiding children.

A Bubble MUST:

  • Contain the same children for a minimum of one week (Monday to Friday) and ideally longer with at least a weekend between new bubbles

A Bubble should:

  • Contain the same staff members where possible. Where additional staff support is required for a bubble consider the following

    o How ratio requirements are being met over the building as a whole
    o How any supernumerary, ancillary or support staff are deployed
    o How shifts are planned. Longer and fewer shifts, where practical, reduces commutes and changing over of staff during the day
    o If staff need to provide cover across bubbles you may want to consider PPE for these staff members
  • Group members of the same household together e.g. siblings/staff with their own children where possible
  • Be together for as long as possible before new bubbles are formed, consider when children might have been due to transition between age phased rooms and consider transitions in light of the bubbles. This could include children transitioning earlier or later than usual or not at all, or vertical grouping of children to bubbles moving onto new rooms together.
  • Be documented so if there is a case of Covid-19 you are able to readily identify which children and staff have potentially been exposed
  • Be maintained in as clearly-defined, easy-to-manage spaces as possible.
  • When planning your bubbles consider the following:

    o Sized according to your own internal risk assessment
    o Attendance patterns
    o Room/environment size (floor space requirements as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework)
    o Staff competency and/or qualifications
    o The child’s learning and development requirements and their wellbeing including mobility and SEND
    o Household members (e.g. siblings)

Bubble Tips for Environment and Routine:

  • Ensure resources are appropriately cleaned before being passed from one bubble to the next
  • Split resources between bubbles where possible
  • Do not share resources between bubbles which can not be easily cleaned e.g. malleable materials
  • Where bubbles are not able to be separated by physical separation in separate rooms consider furniture placements to support separation considering:

    o Reducing pinch-points where bubbles could mix
    o Influencing the flow and/or focused activity stations for children
    o Deployment of staff to subtly direct ‘traffic’ and non-bubble clusters
  • Utilise the outside space as much as possible, coordinating its use to avoid unexpected mixing of bubbles
  • Consider staggered mealtimes to allow for greater spacing between children eating

Considerations when forming new bubbles:

  • Schedule more thorough cleanings on weekends between bubble changes
  • Use Christmas Break/bank holiday weekends as an opportunity to create Nursery wide, larger bubble transitions

The big ideas

download pdf
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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

Learn more about Famly

Find out below from Neil Leitch about the impact of Famly at the Early Years Alliance, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.