Self-Isolation, Under 5’s and Testing: Update

Self-Isolation, Under 5’s and Testing: Update
Many thanks to those of you who responded to our snapshot survey on Wednesday and Thursday of this week – particularly when we know how swamped many of you are by multiple demands on your time just now.

Our survey attracted a great response in such a short period – 914 responses (22% of the childminding workforce) and from all 32 local authority areas. Our survey found that:

  • only 6% of childminders who responded are still following the self-isolation guidance and allowing untested under-fives from households in which there is a positive case to attend their setting. The vast majority have lost confidence in the guidance on this point and are either requiring the child(ren) self-isolates or is tested before returning;
  • 120 childminders reported that untested under-fives from households in which there was a positive case, who initially were symptom-free, attended the setting, subsequently developed symptoms and had to self-isolate; 89 childminders also reported that this had developed into positive cases; and 105 childminders had already had to close their settings due to this. These figures are based on a 22% response to our survey and if extended to a full workforce level the actual numbers could be much higher;
  • 94.3% of childminders who responded feel the current guidance on under-fives is unsafe and 95.3% of respondents believe this will increase the likelihood and frequency of closing their settings; and
  • there was overwhelming support (96.3%) for SCMA’s proposed modification to the guidance in which under-fives from households in which there is a positive case should be required to be tested OR if parents are uncomfortable with this the child(ren) should be required to self-isolate in line with older children and adults. 
We are very sensitive to the fact that undergoing a PCR test could be distressing for a young child – this is why we propose providing parents/carers with informed choice on this matter, but in a manner which supports safety. We submitted our findings to the Scottish Government this morning and urged the Scottish Government and it’s public health advisers to make our proposed modification to the self-isolation guidance for under-fives at this time. We understand this will be considered at a meeting next Tuesday (21 September 2021).

We are aware that some childminders involved in delivering funded hours of ELC are feeling pressured to follow the current self-isolation guidance on under-fives and/or to sign amended contracts requiring them to do this. We believe this is inappropriate, have raised this issue with the Scottish Government and would urge local authorities to be supportive of local childminders’ concerns and to allow time for further consideration of the current guidance at a national level by the Scottish Government and it’s public health advisers. If childminders delivering funded hours are feeling under pressure please share this update with local authority contacts.

A summary of our survey results can be accessed HERE.