Covid-19 information for parents: children, childcare and schools

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Covid information for parents: children, childcare, schools and lockdown

This page was last updated on 08/01/21 and will continue to be updated as and when things change.

Many parents have questions about the government’s Covid guidance, specifically around what is and isn’t allowed for their children during this time. Here, we break down some of the key information that parents need to know about childcare, schools and the rules around household bubbles.

Latest updates

England:

  • Under the new national lockdown, primary and secondary schools are closed until February half-term at the earliest. Children of key workers and children who are classified as ‘vulnerable’ can still go to school.
  • Early years settings remain open for all children – this includes nurseries and childminders.
  • In-home childcare is still allowed, meaning that parents can continue to book nannies throughout this time.

Scotland:

  • Under the national lockdown introduced on 4th January 2021, all schools in Scotland are closed until the end of January – except for vulnerable children and those of key workers.
  • Nurseries are closed except for children of key workers and vulnerable children, until 31st January.
  • Childminders may remain open for all children.
  • Essential informal childcare, including in-home childcare, is still permitted. This means parents can continue to book nannies or babysitters if they need to.

Wales:

  • All schools in Wales are closed until the February half term, except for vulnerable children and those of key workers (unless there is a significant fall in Covid cases)
  • All childcare settings (e.g. nurseries, childminders and nannies) can remain open.
  • In-home childcare is still allowed for all children in Wales.

 

What does lockdown mean for me?

Can I still book childcare?

Yes, the good news is you can still book in-home childcare during the lockdown in England, Wales and Scotland if you need some support. Sitters and nannies on Bubble are still operating and are frequently reminded of our strict safe sits policy. They must also confirm that neither they nor anyone in their household has Covid symptoms before booking each sit.

Are childcare bubbles and support bubbles still allowed during lockdown?

Support bubbles are still allowed in England, Scotland and Wales during this time. Childcare bubbles are still allowed, meaning that you can continue informal childcare if you need to, so long as you take the necessary precautions to reduce transmission. For more information on lockdown and household bubbles, click here.

Can grandparents provide childcare?

In line with the previous point, grandparents can still provide childcare if they are part of your support bubble or childcare bubble. However, as the case rates have increased and the government has reintroduced its shielding guidance for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable, some older people may not feel safe or comfortable providing childcare during this time. If this is the case, you can still book in-home childcare such as a nanny.

Can I get help with homeschooling?

Yes. Homeschooling is incredibly stressful for parents, particularly if they have multiple children or are having to manage remote working alongside their children’s remote learning. If you need help, you can book in-home childcare to help support you through this tricky time – either getting help for a couple of hours a week or more regular support.

Many of the sitters and nannies on Bubble have teaching experience, so this is also something to consider when choosing your in-home childcare.

How can I keep safe when booking a sitter or nanny?

Bubble issues clear guidance on how to maintain safety when booking and providing in-home childcare. In addition, we also have some general tips for keeping Covid secure when having people work in your home – this applies to nannies and babysitters, but also other in-home workers such as tradesmen.

Working parents advice

I’m a key worker – can my children still go to school?

Yes, if you are a key worker your children are still eligible to go to school, wherever you live in the UK. However, if you need support outside of school hours or if you would rather your children stay home, there are also childcare options available to help support you and your children during this time.

I’m an NHS worker and need childcare to be able to work. How can I get support?

We are providing free childcare for all NHS workers, in order to support them during the pandemic. Since launching this initiative, over 100,000 hours of childcare have been requested by NHS workers on Bubble. For more information on free childcare for NHS parents, click here.

I’m working from home and having to juggle homeschooling as well. What are my options?

Managing remote working alongside homeschooling is incredibly difficult for parents. There are several options available to you if you are in this position:

  • Request more flexible working arrangements. This is a difficult time and your employers may understand if you need to shift your working hours in order to also homeschool your children. Speak to your employer about the support you need and discuss what arrangements can be made.
  • Ask your employer to contribute towards your childcare. This is often overlooked, but is one of the best options for parents who want to continue working but need some support in order to be productive and manage other responsibilities. Bubble for Business supports employers to provide working parents with free/subsidised childcare so that they can work from home. If you don’t already receive childcare support from your employer, you can forward them this open letter to let them know how other companies are supporting their parent employees during lockdown – and why they should too.
  • Request to be furloughed for childcare reasons. This is another option for parents who are struggling with homeschooling and WFH. In many ways it can be helpful for parents, however it does also mean a 20% pay cut and potential redundancy later down the line – which is why we would recommend requesting childcare support before requesting furlough.

 

Health and wellbeing

How will the Covid vaccine impact families and children?

The new Covid vaccines which are available and are currently being distributed are good news for children and families, despite the fact that they are not being given to children themselves. Mass vaccination will enable us to open society back up and will reduce the risk/severity of further lockdowns and restrictions. To learn more, click here.

How can parents maintain good mental health during this time?

This is a really challenging time for parents, and it’s important to look after yourself as much as you can. Even if you’re not able to go out as you normally would, you can still go out for a walk, run or other forms of exercise to help clear your head after a difficult day. If you’re using in-home childcare to help you juggle things at the moment, do check out our advice on how to work from home with a nanny (and not feel bad about it). Parenting is tricky at the best of times, and now more than ever you shouldn’t feel bad about asking for some help.

What support is available to help children through this time?

Children are also feeling the impacts of lockdown and there are different forms of support available. The NHS has a great guide on how to help children during this difficult time, including things like limiting news about Covid and creating new routines. We also have several parent guides about homeschooling and lockdown, which you can check out here.

If my childcare falls through due to Covid, what should I do? Do I still need to pay?

You should first check whether you/anyone from your household needs to self-isolate. If you do, you should not book any childcare until after the self-isolation period is over. If you don’t, but your childcare provider is having to cancel due to self-isolation, you can still book in-home childcare with another nanny. Bubble can help you to find emergency childcare when you need it – the free app allows parents to find childcare on-demand and get applicants quickly.

If you have booked a nanny or babysitter on Bubble and they fall ill or are unable to complete the sit, you don’t have to pay – payments are only calculated on the day of the sit so that parents never end paying for any childcare they haven’t used.

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