I have seen many scary reports from primary schools who reopened on 1st June. Each school has to apply the government’s guidance in a way that suits them and their setting. However, some news reports seem to feature schools that have implemented measures in excess of the government guidelines and that’s not what I see in our area.
Things are different but not by as much as the reports would imply. We have new procedures and routines in place. We are lucky enough to have only a small number of children, many wonderful staff and lots of lovely outside play areas at each nursery. However, that is the picture for many local settings. In addition to the obvious changes which include:
- More time outside and opening doors and windows
- Greater emphasis on personal health and hygiene
- More cleaning
- Using those resources that can be cleaned easily (what would we do without washing machines and dishwashers)
- Keeping bubbles or groups separate from each other
- Socially distancing the adults
- Reducing shared resources
Here are a few myths and truths that hopefully paint a more rounded picture of what life will be like for your child once they go back to nursery or playgroup.
Every parent has a difficult choice to make about returning or not to early years and primary school. It is a personal one and each and everyone will weigh up the risks and benefits as they perceive them. Be kind and respect everyone else’s views, it would be a very boring world if we all thought the same.
Myth: You have to make sure every child and adult practises social distancing by keeping at least 2 metres from everyone else.
it is not expected that children and staff within a group will keep 2 metres apart (1)
unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff (2)
In Practice: We do have the children in small groups. These are as normal, organised by age groups. The groups don’t mix at nursery. The staff do socially distance from each other and the parents, but we still cuddle children who need a cuddle. There is the odd exception, we do get closer to parents whose children need to be handed over from their parents’ arms to those of a staff member and we do keep these moments brief and as infrequent as possible. The reality is that almost all of our children happily walk in waving goodbye to their parent.
Myth: The rooms are devoid of resources and each child has their own wallet of items that they can play with.
Government advice: In order to facilitate cleaning, remove unnecessary items from learning environments where there is space to store them elsewhere. Public health advice is to remove all soft toys, and any toys that are hard to clean, such as those with intricate parts. (1 & 2)
In Practice: We have looked at the resources available to the children and reduced the variety, the ones we do have will be rotated more regularly and cleaned more frequently. There are still many things for them to play with including the old favourites, we have fewer rugs but still have those which can be washed daily. The environment feels more spacious and less cluttered and so in many ways this is an improvement.
Myth: The staff wear more PPE than they used to including masks, gloves and face shields
Government advice: The majority of staff in childcare settings will not require PPE, beyond what they would normally need for their work, even if they are not always able to maintain distance of 2 metres from others. PPE is only needed for children whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE, or if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained from any child displaying coronavirus symptoms. (1) Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended (2)
In Practice: We use the same PPE as we always have. It is vital that young children still learning to express themselves verbally and facially and learning to understand others, can see our faces whilst we are interacting with them.
Myth: We take the temperatures of children upon arrival and routinely throughout the day
Government advice: Settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning or throughout the day. (1 & 2)
In Practice: We take temperatures as we always have done, if we have any concerns for anyone’s health.
Sources Preparing for the wider opening of Early Years and Childcare Settings from 1st June (1) Implementing protective measures in Education and Childcare Settings (2) — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —