Covid-19 Policy


COVID -19 Policy

June 2020

What is COVID -19 (Coronavirus)?

COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. Typical symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and a cough that may progress to severe pneumonia, causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. This is a new strain of illness, and was transmitted to humans from animals.

On 5 March 2020 COVID-19 was added to the list of notifiable diseases, and SARS-COV-2 to the list of notifiable causative agents. This change in law requires all cases of COVID-19 to be reported to Public Health authorities.

The government is asking everyone to play their part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by taking part in self-isolationhousehold isolation and social distancing.

Early Learners closed the nursery on March 20th 2020 in line with government guidance.

Early Learners are now preparing for a phased re opening from 1st June 2020 subject to the Prime Minister’s 5 key indicators being met including a decreasing infection rate.

In preparing to open Early Learners are required to follow the governments guidance to prepare for opening

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020

and further guidance around implementing protective measures https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings

and PPE

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care/safe-working-in-education-childcare-and-childrens-social-care-settings-including-the-use-of-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

There has been much debate about the reasons behind bringing the youngest children back to nursery as it will be impossible for them to distance themselves from each other and staff. The government have stated ‘there is high scientific confidence that children of all ages have less severe symptoms than adults if they contract coronavirus and there is moderately high scientific confidence that younger children are less likely to become unwell if infected with coronavirus’ 

The government have gone on to state that limiting the numbers of children going back to nursery initially then gradually increasing numbers, guided by scientific advice, reduces the risk of increasing the rate of transmission.

The government expect that nurseries can make changes to how they are organised and put measures in place to reduce risks.

Early Learners are in the process of doing this to establish if the nursery can safely be reopened on June 1st to some children.

Planned Partial opening June 1st 

These guidelines are based on Public Health England and Department for Education guidance for educational settings and their key workers. 

Early Learners  partially opened the setting based on a small uptake of places.

1.) The overall number of children in the nursery is reduced for the month of June and priority has been given to inviting back the children of key workers (those identified in the governments list) and those children starting school in September 2020. There are a small  number of babies attending. As and when the government grant permission further children will be invited back, it is hoped this will be in July.

The numbers in each room will be reduced in line with government guidance as follows:

Ladybirds – up to 9 Babies with 3 staff and one staff member covering lunch breaks

Caterpillars – THIS ROOM IS CLOSED FOR JUNE

Butterflies – Between 12 -15 children with 2 staff and one staff member covering lunch breaks

2.) Children and staff will be assigned to set rooms and as such will be grouped in cohorts or bubbles. Staff will not work in other rooms unless absolutely necessary i.e. in an emergency situation to cover ratios. The children will not mix across the nursery. The Manager/Director/Third in charge may have to enter different rooms throughout the day in order to carry out duties and ensure safeguarding of all children. Handwashing will be completed on entering and leaving the room. 

3.) The nursery hours will be reduced from to 8am - 5pm and all staff will work the same shift with the exception of staff covering lunch breaks only. 

4.) Parents will be asked to drop off and collect their children directly to/from their room as follows:

Ladybirds – Through the garden to the door only, one at a time, one parent per family

Caterpillars – Through the garden to the door only, one at a time, one parent per family

Butterflies – To the front door one at a time, one parent per family, staff will greet and take the child to the room

Parents will be asked to line up outside following the 2-meter distancing rule, guided by the markings on the ground and displayed signs and a one-way system. Parents are asked to be mindful of the space available and to exercise caution and patience when waiting to bring their child in and on leaving. 

Parents will not be allowed to enter the nursery although consideration will be given to allowing parents to enter the nursery one at a time for the purpose of settling in their child for a few minutes if not doing so would cause a child distress. The parent must wash their hands on entering and leaving.

Children must not bring items i.e. toys from home, whilst we understand that children may have particular objects of comfort parents must encourage children to leave these in the buggy, car, or with parents. Children’s spare clothes can be brought in and left at nursery and milk bottles for babies can be brought in. Water bottles will not be allowed.

5.) Children may be unsettled as they have not attended the setting for several weeks. To support their transition back into nursery life we aim to ensure the staff they are familiar with work with them. However, this may not always be possible due to staff not being available to work as they are shielding or have their own children at home. Parents are asked to be understanding and work with us in helping their child to settle, this may mean phasing in their attendance gradually, starting with a few hours and building up to longer days as the child begins to settle. This will need to be arranged directly with room staff as children start coming back.  We encourage parents to stick to the same drop off time that they usually bring their child and gradually extend their collection time to provide consistency to their routine.

6.) When collecting children at the end of the day parents are asked to keep discussion with staff to a minimum to avoid prolonged social contact and to help facilitate one parent collecting at a time. Parents are asked to arrive before 5pm as the nursery will close promptly at 5pm and a rush of parents has to be avoided at this time. Staff will update parents with a daily handover via parent zone and parents are encouraged to telephone the nursery and speak to staff if they wish to have a longer discussion about anything or send messages via parent zone. 

7.) Only children who are symptom free or have completed the required isolation period should attend the setting. The manager reserves the right to refuse admittance to a child who is showing signs of Covid-19 symptoms.

8.) Children will be supported in age appropriate ways to understand the steps they can take to keep themselves safe including regular hand washing and sneezing into a tissue. All children and staff must wash their hands for 20 seconds on arrival at the nursery.

9.) Children will be supported to understand the changes and challenges they may be encountering as a result of Covid-19 and staff will ensure they are aware of children’s attachments and their need for emotional support at this time

10.) Staff must maintain social distancing during breaks. Lunch breaks will be staggered with only 2 staff allowed in the staff room at any one time. As the manager/director will be working alternate days one other person may use the office whilst on a lunch break with the door open. Staff members will avoid physical contact with each other including handshakes, hugs etc.  All meetings and training sessions will be conducted through virtual conferencing.

11.) Government guidance requires that the setting is ventilated and we will therefore ensure windows are kept open and where possible doors.

11.) All staff have completed an online infection control course before starting back at work. All staff will take part in an online training session with the director before returning to work.

12.) There will be no external visitors to the setting unless in an emergency situation i.e. for maintenance and any visitor will be required to follow the social distancing rules.

13.) Wherever possible staff and parents should travel to the nursery alone, using their own transport. If public transport is necessary, current guidance on the use of public transport must be followed around wearing a face covering.

14.) All children and staff must wash their hands upon arrival at the nursery. Children and staff members must wash their hands frequently. Hand sanitiser is provided as an additional measure but does not replace hand washing. Staff and children must wash their clothes at the end of every day.

15.) An enhanced cleaning schedule has been implemented that includes furniture, surfaces and children’s toys and equipment. Communal areas, touch points and hand washing facilities will be cleaned and sanitised regularly. The whole setting will continue to be cleaned thoroughly at the end of each day.

16.) PPE - Government guidance states wearing a face covering or face mask in nursery 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 nurseries. Nurseries should therefore not require staff or children 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 nurseries 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, 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 becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in the nursery and needs direct personal care until they can return home. A fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained. If contact with the child is necessary, then disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a fluid-resistant surgical 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

Responding to a suspected case of Covid-19

  • In the event of a child developing suspected coronavirus symptoms whilst attending the setting, they must be collected within 30 minutes and isolate at home in line with the NHS guidance.
  • Any child who develops a temperature must be collected within 30 minutes. With permission calpol can be administered before the parent collects but the child MUST go home regardless of any reason given by the parent as to why the child has a temperature.
  • Whilst waiting for the child to be collected they will be isolated from others in the hallway with a staff member. If possible, a window/door should be opened for ventilation.
  • The staff member responsible for the child during this time should be a staff member from their ‘bubble’. 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.
  • The area will be thoroughly cleaned immediately 
  • The person responsible for cleaning the area should wear appropriate PPE 
  • In the event of a staff member developing suspected coronavirus symptoms whilst working at the nursery, they will return home immediately and isolate at home in line with the NHS guidance and arrange for testing. All childcare workers and their families are eligible for testing.
  • Testing can be obtained online at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested

In the event of a confirmed case of Covid-19

When a child or staff member develops symptoms compatible with Covid-19, they will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and children who are attending the nursery will have access to a test if they display symptoms of Covid-19, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.

If a child or staff member tests negative, they can return to nursery and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.

If a child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their group (bubble) will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.

As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the group (bubble) or the entire nursery, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise us on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases, a larger number of other children may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole nursery. The government state that where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.

Testing

The government guidance states that access to testing is already available to all essential workers.  This includes anyone involved in education and childcare. As an employer Early Learners can book tests through an online digital portal for it’s employees.  There is also an option for employees to book tests directly on the portal.

The Government state that by the time settings open to wider cohorts of children all children eligible to attend their education or childcare setting, as well as their households, will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus. If they develop symptoms, they should be tested. If they test negative, they can return to their setting and their fellow household members can end their self-isolation. If they test positive the nursery will follow the guidance on implementing protective measures. 

Shielded and clinically vulnerable children and young people

For the vast majority of children, coronavirus is a mild illness. Children (0 to 18 years of age) who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable due to pre-existing medical conditions have been advised to shield. These children are not expected to be attending nursery, and they should continue to be supported at home as much as possible. Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A small minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.

Living with a shielded or clinically vulnerable person

If a child or a member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting.

If a child, young person or staff member lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, as set out in the COVID-19: guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable guidance, it is advised they only attend an education or childcare setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and, in the case of children, they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn or work at home.

Curriculum

We will endeavour to deliver the learning and development of the EYFS curriculum as far is as possible within this pandemic. Staff to child ratio’s will be adhered to but the additional staff we have from time to time will not be available. Staff wellbeing is of paramount importance and supporting them to look after children in this situation is vital to ensure they do not become overwhelmed. Staff will need time to get to know children again and learn about all the things children have achieved whilst they have been learning at home. Staff will be supported to adjust to a new way of working.

There will be a focus on teaching children to keep themselves safe which will include regular handwashing and using tissues through songs, games and repetition using these guidelines which parents are encouraged to reinforce at home.

·       Professional association for children and early years (PACEY): supporting children in your setting

·       Dr Dog explains coronavirus

·       Busy Bees:

·       2 metres apart activity (PDF, 2MB)

·       Our hand washing song (PDF, 958KB)

·       Bright Horizons: Talking to Children about COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Observations – Staff will aim to complete one observation per child per week during the first four weeks after the child returns. A very brief baseline assessment will be completed at the end of four weeks which will enable each child to have a new next step set.

Planning- Initially staff will plan a variety of age appropriate activities for children. On completion of baseline assessments planning will be completed based on children’s identified new next steps. It may not be possible to provide children with activities across all areas of the curriculum all of the time.

Key groups – Key groups may be changed according to the staff available and new key workers allocated on a temporary basis if required. The Manager in consultation with the room leaders will be responsible for arranging these.

In the event of staff absence this will be subject to change and observations may be done less frequently.

Equipment

All soft play and furnishings including dressing up clothes and toys that are hard to clean (those with intricate parts) will be removed and not be made available until Public Health England advise it is safe to use them again.

Sand, water play and messy play activities will be suspended until Public Health England advise it is safe to re-introduce them.

The garden sand pit and mud kitchen will be suspended until Public Health England advise it is safe to re-introduce them.

Garden equipment will be split into sets for each group (bubble) and will be cleaned after use.

Equipment on offer will be reduced and rotated to allow for cleaning after use.

Meal and Snack Times

Meals will be served by staff wearing the usual PPE, children self-serving will not be allowed at this time.

Where possible children will be spaced out, sitting 2-3 at one table with gaps in between highchairs.

Trays will be collected from and taken back to the kitchen door

Sleeping Arrangements

Beds and cots will be spaced out for sleeping children. Bedding will be washed after each use. Sleep mats will be cleaned after each use.

School Leavers

Several children are leaving Early Learners to join school this summer. In normal circumstances individual key workers prepare transition packs which include all about me sheets competed by children, tracking sheets and assessments. Due to the current situation this will not be possible and key workers or the manager will complete a transition form provided by Croydon local authority. This form will provide basic information about each child and an assessment of the age and stage they are tracking at based on the EYFS. 

(Parents may request a copy of this).

Schools have already begun to contact Early Learners and once we are fully open staff will be able to have telephone/video calls with teachers where required. Where children have additional needs and or have other professionals working with them transition meetings will be arranged by secure video conferencing. 

Children with additional needs/Working with other professionals

An action plan will be put in place to support children with additional needs to return to the setting in consultation with parents, key workers and any professionals involved.

Once children return and have settled back in cancelled meetings will be rearranged by video conferencing.

Fees 

Once confirmation is given by the government to open on the 1st June, fees due for June will be payable on June 1st in the usual way for those children invited to attend. Parents have been invoiced a few days before the 1st. Fees must be paid on time although the payment date will be extended until the 5th June to allow for vouchers and the tax free childcare scheme to process payments. The same process will be followed for children returning from July onwards.

Fees will not be charged for children not invited back or attending in June but all places will be kept open.

Opening hours are reduced initially however the usual daily rate fee applies.

Once the government confirms the setting can fully open which is anticipated to be July then fees will be payable by all children registered regardless of whether they attend or not.

If parents wish to terminate a place four weeks written notice must be provided, this includes children leaving to start school in September.

In the event that a child is sent home with suspected Covid-19 symptoms full fees are payable in line with our usual sickness policy for the duration of time they are absent from nursery.

In the event of a whole room having to self isolate for 14 days as instructed by Public Heath England full fees will be payable.

In the event that the setting cannot open or provide a full service because of staff shortages due to Covid -19 parents will be offered alternative days where available. If alternative days are not available and the nursery is closed for three or more consecutive days fees will be refunded.

In the event of a second lockdown due to a further spike in Covid-19 fees will be refunded and not payable during any enforced closure.

Covid -19 Risk assessment

A full risk assessment has been completed and documented and is available on request.

This policy has been adopted by Early Learners and parents wishing to send their children back to the nursery must abide by this.

This policy supersedes the illness and calpol policy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The policy is subject to change based on guidance from the government and Public Health England.