Before I set out these arrangements, I would like to take this opportunity to thank parents and carers for their understanding and cooperation since we had to close [to the majority of children] from 20th March. I know that this period has been challenging for many families, in particular when you have had to juggle work commitments with managing childcare, if you have children with special educational needs or disability, or if you are a single parent.
I am pleased to let you know that, further to the government’s announcement that early years and childcare providers will open from 1 June (subject to scientific advice), we are working hard to take the necessary steps to be ready to welcome back all children. We will open [to more children] only if the government confirms that their five key tests justify taking this step. We are expecting final confirmation on 28th May.
I would like to specifically thank everyone who replied to our survey. We have been able to clarify our children numbers from this and have been able to use the questions and queries to ensure our Operational Plan answers both staff and parent queries.
Many of you have asked if we expect less children to be attend? Each nursery has differing numbers, however across the group we are expecting occupancy to be less than 50% of what it was pre-lockdown. This varies day by day obviously.
Which children can attend from 1st June
As you may be aware, we have remained open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children since 20th March and have been operating with smaller group sizes and additional hygiene and infection control measures. We will remain open for them until wider opening is confirmed.
The government is now encouraging all eligible children to attend and it is no longer necessary for parents of eligible children to keep them at home if they can.
From the week beginning 1st June, early years and childcare providers will welcome back all children, if the five key tests set by government justify the changes at the time. For the vast majority of children and young people, coronavirus is a mild illness. Some categories of children with specific serious health conditions should not attend their early years setting and we believe . If you are unsure whether your child should attend the setting due to a health condition that they or someone they live with has, please contact us so we can discuss the details with you.
Protective measures we are taking in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19)
First and foremost, it goes without saying that the safety of your child and of our staff is our top priority. We are working hard, following the latest government guidance, to develop and implement a number of new ways of operating. This will allow us to open as safely as possible, focusing on measures that will help limit the risk of coronavirus transmitting within our setting.
Some of the steps we are taking in readiness for reopening include:
- Asking that anyone who is displaying coronavirus symptoms, or who lives with someone who does, not to attend the setting. That includes children and staff who work here.
- It is widely accepted that it is not possible to physical distance from children under the age of 5. We intend caring for your child in the hands-on and loving way that we always have. Your child will be supported and comforted in our nursery as always. However, we will be keeping our children in small groups or ‘bubbles’ (max 16 children in any one group, as per Government Guidance) with as much consistent staffing as possible, and minimising contact with other groups around the setting. (In most groups and on most days, we are not expecting to have this number, certainly during June.) Ratios of staff to children has not been changed (except for in exceptional circumstances) and we have planned to fully conform to these numbers (1:3 for 0-2 yrs, 1:4 for 2-3 yrs, 1:8 for 3-5 yrs)
- Cleaning our hands more often than usual. We have developed routines to ensure children understand when and how to wash their hands, making sure they wash them thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using running water and soap and dry them thoroughly, or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.
- Ensuring our children understand good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach and ensuring a good supply of tissues and bins throughout the setting.
- Implementing an enhanced cleaning schedule, ensuring surfaces touched by children and staff are cleaned regularly and throughout the day, including table tops, door handles and play equipment.
- Asking parents and carers to physically distance from each other and from staff when dropping off and collecting their children and to limit drop off and collection to one parent or carer per household. (We will be uploading child handover information onto Tapestry each day for children)
- Asking parents and carers to ensure they are strictly following all Government Advice regarding social distancing away from nursery, e.g. households are not yet allowed to mix with other households.
- Asking children not to bring toys or other items from home to the setting, unless this is essential to their health and well-being.
- Asking parents to ensure their child only attends one childcare setting, to reduce the amount of child to child weekly interactions.
- With parent’s permission, where appropriate, we have joined siblings into one group.
- We have published a clear and detailed Operational Plan (which includes use of PPE, and our procedure for if a child become symptomatic of COVID-19 whilst in our care) so that all staff understand the requirements on them both inside and outside of work.
- Completed a detailed Risk Assessment which is published on our website. (by 1st June)
What can parents and carers do to help?
There are a number of things parents and carers can do to help us make these arrangements effective, in addition to the points listed above concerning arrival and departure and not bringing toys to the setting.
1. MOST IMPORTANTLY – please do not bring you child to nursery if they or anyone in your household has symptoms of Coronavirus.
We consider the symptoms to be those published on the NHS website. No other symptoms count e.g. sore throats. runny noses,
As of 20th May these are : –
- a high temperature (37.8°C or higher)– this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
We appreciate that work is very important to you and at times childhood illnesses can cause disruption to important events that have been planned. However, at these times, please understand that if a child develops symptoms we will have to call you to collect them. If a child has a temperature at home even if you believe it is not COVID-19, we cannot care for them. so please do not give them Calpol and still bring them. It will cause staff and children anxiety.
Please at this time we ask you to be cautious in favour of staying away rather than bringing them to us.
If we have a confirmed case, we are required to contact our Public Health Team and seek guidance. However, we will most likely need to close a whole hub within the nursery, which will impact staff and other families
2. If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19 whilst at nursery, we will
- Care for your child and ensure they are not scared.
- Move your child to our designated quarantine place (which is away from other children and easily cleaned after use)
- Staff will don the recommended PPE. (Eye protection, disposable gloves, disposable apron and a Type IIR surgical mask.
- If your child is over 2 years old we will ask them to wear a face shield to limit exposure of the virus to our staff. (Children will be made familiar with these shields in advance, such that they are not scared by this request).
- Contact you and ask you to collect your child as quickly as possible.
- Your child will not be able to return to nursery until after the isolation period (14 days), or a negative test result is confirmed. See testing section below
- If a child tests positive for COVID-19, we will follow advice from our local Public Health Team and it is likely everyone in the bubble will be contacted and tests should be undertaken or families self-isolate for 14 days. If a family needs to self-isolate, this will include a sibling even if they are in a separate bubble. The bubble which this sibling is in, will not need to self-isolate as the sibling was not displaying symptoms. (This guidance may change in the future with the introduction of any antibody test, such that only staff/children without antibodies to COVID-19 will need to self-isolate or be tested.)
- If this occurs, families within the isolating bubble will be able to ‘retain’ their space during this two week period – i.e. just pay for 1 short day per week. All other absenses for holidays or illnesses, during this period, will be charged for as normal.
3. There are some changes routines and practices at nursery, so it would be very helpful if you could discuss these with your child before their first days back.
- New drop off and pick up entrances at nursery.
- You will need to ask your child to leave you and go to a member of staff, at least 2m from you and them. (in some cases a greater distance for older children, as they run up a garden path). If you are concerned that your child will not leave you or settle and will need some specific support to return to nursery, please contact your manager ASAP to arrange specific time slots for your arrival away from the usual busy times around 8-9am.
- The member of staff manning the entrance will ask you to confirm that your household has been symptom free and they will be asking that you have applied Sun Cream in accordance with our usual nursery policy. (Please remember to apply all day sun cream to your child before arrival at nursery). If you have forgotten the sun cream, we will have a supply at nursery, however you may be charged.
- We ask that children bring minimal belongings with them to nursery to minimise cross-contamination from possessions. Any items bought to nursery must be suitable to be santized, if it has a hard surface.
- We ask that you do not plan to leave travel accessories at nursery such as buggies, car seats, scooters etc as we may not have secure storage for them.
- Re-assure your child that they will have fun in nursery and although there are some changes, it is still the caring place they remember.
- Re-assure them that there will be friends to play with.
- Reassure them that they will know the staff (if your child will be with different staff, we will send you a photo of the staff team caring for your child).
- If you have siblings who are in separate age hubs, the children will need to be dropped off at different entrances, as the staff are separated within the building.
- Ensure your child has sun cream applied, before arriving at nursery as per our Sun Cream Policy.
4. If you want to discuss a matter with a specific member of staff or just generally chat about an issue or query, please email your manager and arrange a specific time for this. Handovers in the morning and evening need to be a quick as possible (hence why feedback will be uploaded to Tapestry) to avoid congestion at the entrances. Managers are not included in ratios in the building and e will be able to arrange suitably social distanced discussions or telephone calls so that the matter you wish to discuss can be fully resolved.
5. If you decide that your child will not attend a session for any reason (but especially if they or one of your household have developed COVID-19 symptoms), please inform us in advance so that we do not need to contact you as part of our usual attendance checking.
6. If your child is toilet training, please ensure they are clothed in easy to remove clothing, so that they are most likely to not have an accident, e.g. dresses, elasticated waist band trousers or shorts. Our staff need to don PPE (only gloves and aprons) if they have to deal with urine, so it would really help us to manage this smoothly.
6. Please pay your nursery bill electronically, as we will be unable to accept cash payments.
Once early years and childcare providers open to more children, all children who are attending a childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario. The aim is to enable children to get back to childcare, and their parents or carers not to need to self-isolate any longer than is necessary, if the test proves to be negative. A positive test will ensure rapid action to protect other children and staff in their setting.
We ask all parents and carers to ensure they organise a test for their child, in the event that they develop coronavirus symptoms, and notify us immediately of a positive test. Further guidance is available about getting tested. Basically, you will need to call 111 to book a test.
If your child is tested and the result is positive or negative, we ask for written confirm of this (email will suffice). You will need to explain the child’s name, the date of test, and the date of result plus the test result – positive or negative.
I hope that this letter has given you the information you need to understand what arrangements we have made to enable children to return to us from 1 June. We are looking forward to welcoming your child[ren] back and I hope that you are assured that we have taken all possible steps to ensure safety for all in our setting. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know.
We have decided to share publicly our COVID-19 Operational Plan, to give you confidence of all the changes we have put in place.
You can access it here.