Nursery sector calls for clarity about whether to reopen as more parents set to return to work

As the leaders of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies rejected the new “stay alert” slogan and said they would be sticking with the “stay home” message, Ms Tanuku also highlighted potential problems for families living on the Welsh or Scottish borders who might have their home on one side and their work on the other.

Nurseries have warned that they will need three weeks notice before reopening in order to put appropriate policies and procedures in place. The sector will also require guidance on social distancing – almost impossible to maintain with pre-school children – and whether or not staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

They may need to reconfigure their spaces to allow for smaller groups or to stay open for longer to enable meal times to be staggered.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the EYA, said the organisation was “incredibly disappointed and frustrated” that Mr Johnson had made no mention of the sector on Sunday evening.

“Nurseries, childminders and pre-schools need a clear plan of action on how they are going to be supported, both practically and financially, to reopen as lockdown eases but, as it stands, it is unclear how – or even if – they are included in the Government’s proposals,” he said.

“It is vital that early years isn’t simply tacked onto the end of whatever plans the Government is making for schools. The early years sector is a unique sector with unique needs, and providers are going to face significant changes to the way they operate on a day-to-day basis, especially given the age of the children they care for.  

“As such, the Government needs to be clear how it expects childcare providers to operate during this transition period, and crucially, what financial support it plans to provide.”

The EYA has warned that “abandoning” the childcare sector at this time will cause “untold damage” to the economy. One in four childcare providers have said they face going out of business within a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An EYA survey found that nearly three in four nurseries, pre-schools and childminders feel the Government has not provided enough support to them during the coronavirus crisis.

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