Update 13th May:
We are sure you are aware, on Sunday evening the Prime Minister set-out the Government’s high level plan to transition from Phase 1 to Phase 2, of the lockdown, once there was certainty that a second peak of infection will not come. The PM explained that Phase 2 would enable Primary Schools to partially open for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children, potentially from June 1 and in a phased manner; however, this was very much subject to the continued decline in the likelihood of a second peak in infection.
Although, the PM did not refer to Early Years and childcare settings directly; on Monday, the DfE signalled that the Government intends childcare providers to be included in its plans for reopening, which was subsequently confirmed by the PM during the Monday parliamentary speech, albeit, he did not provide a specific date for a phased reopening of nurseries.
Late yesterday, the DfE published two guidance papers:
- Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020; and,
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings
In the first documents, the next steps are set-out, excerpts below: –
“From the week commencing 1 June 2020 at the earliest, we will be asking primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups.”
“We are also asking nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, to begin welcoming back all children.”
“We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers. Children returning to educational and childcare settings in greater numbers will also allow more families to return to work.”
“In childcare settings, providers will be asked to welcome back all children below statutory school age from the week commencing 1 June 2020.”
“Children will need to stay within their new class/group wherever possible and we will ask settings to implement a range of protective measures including increased cleaning, reducing ‘pinch points’ (such as parents dropping children off at the start and end of day), and utilising outdoor space. Staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households. A negative test will enable children to get back to childcare or education, and their parents to get back to work. A positive test will ensure rapid action to protect their classmates and staff in their setting. Those who are clinically vulnerable, or are living with someone who is, should follow our protective measures guidance.”
Moving to the second document, which includes protective measures in childcare settings, including effective infection protection and control: –
“A range of approaches and actions should be employed to do this. These can be seen as a hierarchy of controls that, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system, where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. These include:
- minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend childcare settings, schools or colleges
- cleaning hands more often than usual – wash hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with 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 good respiratory hygiene – promote the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
- cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach”
The use of PPE, including face masks and face coverings: –
“Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in some shops. This does not apply to schools or other education settings. Schools and other education or childcare settings should therefore not require staff, children and learners to wear face coverings. Changing habits, cleaning and hygiene are effective measures in controlling the spread of the virus. Face coverings (or any form of medical mask where instructed to be used for specific clinical reasons) should not be worn in any circumstance by those who may not be able to handle them as directed (for example, young children, or those with special educational needs or disabilities) as it may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission.
The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain a distance of 2 metres from others. PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases including:
- children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way
- if a child, young person or other learner becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child or young person is necessary, then gloves, an apron and a face mask should be worn by the supervising adult. If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.”
There is recognition that groups of early years children cannot be expected to remain 2-meters apart from each other and staff: –
“We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account. Schools should therefore work through the hierarchy of measures set out above:
- avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms
- frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices
- regular cleaning of settings
- minimising contact and mixing”
“For pre-school children in early years settings, the staff to child ratios within Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) continue to apply as set out here, and we recommend using these to group children.”
I hope these excerpts above have provided insight into the Phase 2 plan and I recommend you read the documents in full, hyperlinks above.
In addition, from 1 June 2020 children and members of their households, will have access to testing if they display symptoms of coronavirus. If the child is under 5 parents should call 111 to access testing.
Please note, there is no current guidance supporting out-of-school clubs for the use of children before and after school. Further guidance will be shared with Club parents as and when it becomes available and unless there is further clarification is received from DfE, out-of-school clubs should only accept key worker or vulnerable children at this time.
As throughout the Lockdown period, Little Bear’s has and will continue to be guided by the Government, including Public Health England and the Department for Education. In addition, we have nurseries in three London Boroughs and work closely with each of their Early Years teams for best practice advise. Through this partnership, along with updates from the NDNA (National Day Nursery Association) and via the daily government updates, we shall monitor developments as they evolve, on a daily and weekly basis, and shall reflect these within our plan to reopen, which we shall share ahead of a phased reopening of your nursery, from June 1 at the earliest.
We need to be aware of this as children can easily pick up on this anxiety.
During this period families will be spending long periods of time at home which may feel daunting. Children feel most secure when they follow a daily routine. The routine needs to meet all families needs but should include time for play based activities, exercise time, family time and free play. Little Bear’s will be emailing some activity ideas for parents which will be easy to complete at home.