The latest government advice has called for all nurseries and early years providers across the UK to close their doors to all but, ‘vulnerable children’, as well as those of ‘critical workers’ for the foreseeable future. While this means far fewer children will need care as they’ll be at home with their parents, what about the ones whose parents are part of the relatively extensive list of critical workers?
Below, we sift through the latest advice to try and give you some clear guidance on how you can continue to care for these children, whilst staying in line with government policy and protecting the health of your community.
Lockdown in the UK
On March 24th, Boris Johnson announced a range of strict new measures for the whole population, to try and curb the spread of coronavirus. These measures include:
- Only leaving the house to go shopping for essentials, once a day for exercise, to get to, and from work if it’s not possible to work remotely, and to care for someone who is unwell.
- No gatherings of more than two people in public spaces.
These rules are being enforced by the police and breaking them can result in fines.
Because of this, taking the children for trips to outdoor spaces like parks, the beach or playgrounds is not permitted and the overriding recommendation is for people to stay inside as much as possible.
If you’re lucky enough to have your own private outdoor space, of course it’s important you utilise that as much as possible to stop children feeling cooped up inside.
Within your setting
Social distancing, the practice of keeping apart to limit the spread of infection is recommended across all areas of society. But how can this work with lots of children in an early years setting?
The Department of Education recognise that it’s challenging to implement social distancing when working with young children, however some of their main tips include:
- Keeping classes small and splitting into different rooms as much as possible
- Stagger lunch breaks
- Discourage parents from gathering together during pick up and drop off
- Ensure all staff and children are regularly washing their hands particularly before any meal or snack times and during food preparation
- Increase regularity of wiping down and disinfecting surfaces
Keeping parents involved in open communication about your efforts and encouraging them to help out by keeping these hygiene practices going at home is also recommended.
Vulnerable health groups
The Department for Education recommends that anyone in a vulnerable health group should practice ‘shielding’, meaning they should stay at home and avoid contact with anyone who may have the virus as they are likely to become severely ill if they contract COVID-19.
Within your setting, ensure that people from these vulnerable health groups are asked not to work, and strongly advise critical worker parents of the risk involved should their child have any underlying conditions.
Keeping spirits high
As you and the children will need to stay within your setting, it’s really important to have activities prepared which keep physical interactions to a minimum. If your setting has an outdoor area this would be ideal and you could consider trying out some of these activities from Sue Cowley. Otherwise, you could try out her recommendations for some fun indoor activities with some adaptations to keep resources separated.
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