Nurseries, childminders, pre-schools and reception classes are following the same guidance as schools and colleges.
The message coming from the Government is “We are asking schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can.” You can find out more about which children are classed as vulnerable and who key/critical workers are on the Gov.uk website.
If your child has a social worker then they are said to be ‘vulnerable’ and expected to be at nursery or pre-school or an early years setting, unless they have underlying health conditions that put them at high risk. Children who have an EHC plan are also classed as vulnerable, but many children with a plan are staying at home. The main message is that if your child can be safely cared for at home, then they should be.
If your child gets free school meals, you get the early years pupil premium, or the disadvantaged 2-year-old entitlement it doesn’t always mean your child will be classed as a ‘vulnerable’ child. It’s a good idea to check with your nursery or pre-school if you’re not sure or need more information.
Many nurseries, pre-schools etc should physically be open to take in children who need to be there. But some may not be open if they’re very short of staff. If that’s the case, then the school and local authority will work together to make sure there is another local nursery or early years provider where your child can go.
If you want to find a nursery or childminder that’s open now, you can search the Pinpoint Directory for Devon. Go to the search boxes at the top, hover over the middle one and select childminders or day nurseries from the list. Press the search button. When the list appears, scroll down a bit and you’ll see some boxes in the left-hand column. One says ‘coronavirus status’. Click the box next to ‘open’ and the list will be updated to show which ones are open.
What about social distancing – how would that work?
For very young children, keeping two metres apart from anyone else is going to be extremely difficult! Nursery and pre-school staff and childminders will keep their distance as much as they are able to, while at the same time making sure that children safe and well cared for.
Staff will need to be especially careful about handwashing for themselves and for the children they care for, including using songs, stories and games to help children remember and understand. Make sure that you and the staff are taking steps to stop children sharing food, drink, cups and utensils.
Equipment, toys and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected often. Ask the nursery staff or your childminder what they’re doing to make sure they and your child are as safe as possible and if you’re worried about anything speak to the staff.
Useful resources for very young children
The Professional Association of Early Years and childcare have shared some information aimed at very young children, which may help to explain what’s happening.
Don’t Worry, Little Bear!
This story on the Early Years Story Book website, is to help explain Coronavirus to children and to assure them that everything will be okay.
Pips guide to Covid-19
A Better Start Southend publication which offers another way of talking to children about Coronavirus and the current situation the world is facing.