Moving into Lockdown number 3 is a worrying development for us all and not least for you as an early years provider being required to remain open for all families whilst other educators are moving to an online teaching model for those other than vulnerable children and the children of key workers.
We want you to know that we are doing our best to get the answers to your many questions about the justification for this and will keep you updated via Early Years and Childcare News. You will also find the attached Early Years Alliance update useful.
You are to be commended on your vigilance in maintaining the highest standards of hygiene and infection control.
This lockdown is requiring us all to take a different approach and in doing so Public Health Dorset report that cases in general in pre-school settings are mainly the result of social mixing rather than transmissions within the settings.
There may be some additional tips within the Public Health Dorset December 2020 webinar link below that you might find useful: for example around cleaning products (chlorine-based products are recommended), and reassurances that you have taken the necessary steps to reduce the risk of infection.
Other information around the use of face masks is that these protect others and not the wearer. Public Health inform us that the type used by the general public are not medical grade and are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing. The public health message around the use of face masks is to assess the risk to staff vs interruption to communication with small children. It might be better to consider visors as there is some protection for staff and these are clearer for communication.
Also the link below to the National Visualisation might be useful. This provides an age heatmap showing cases in 0 to 4 year olds as Yellow / Green (low).
The generally small environments that pre-schools operate in and the smaller numbers of children coupled with less movement between rooms and staff all give a picture of the early years pre-school being a place that does not at the moment enable easy transmission of the virus.
With regard to funding please refer to the update in the link below.
We are currently seeking clarification from the government around the requirement for early years settings to remain open for all children. As it stands the message is: business as usual. This means that for those parents who need the place early years settings are a central lynch-pin that enables them to continue to work and for their children to continue to gain the many benefits that attending an early years setting brings and we thank you all for the valuable and committed service you provide.
And finally: Ofsted has changed their expectations around being informed of significant events. From the end of January 2021, childminders, nurseries and all other childcare providers must use an online notification form to tell us about significant events.
The Early Years team is here to support you, please get in touch with any queries and we will do our best to get the answers for you.