Prioritise Return of Nursery and Early Years Children

Nursery and early years children require the most care and are least able to participate in virtual schooling. They are also least able to understand why their lives have been turned upside down and benefit the most from a predictable routine.

Why the contribution is important

Covid-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, we need to adapt to a new normal which fosters social distancing whilst limiting the crippling shackles of lockdown – closer to a Swedish model which trusts its people to comply.

The educating of our children presents a multitude of factors and requires holistic decision making considering:

The safety of children – overwhelmingly it is a mild illness in the young.
The absence of evidence of under 10s transmitting the virus.

Safety for staff – schools and nurseries in a number of countries have reopened, learn how they have managed to return their children to schools without endangering teachers and staff. Most have prioritised nurseries and early years without social distancing and PPE being a factor but with a focus on personal hygiene and regular cleaning.

Children’s education, development, welfare, mental health
Loss of contact and identification of vulnerable children, loss of school meals
Impact on their eventual job prospects and the links between poverty, health and deprivation.

Economic impact on their parents not being able work.
There has been scant guidance on childcare. Workers have been instructed to stay at home where possible and not to rely on elderly grandparents for childcare, there is support for parents home schooling, however no guidance on how parents are expected to work whilst also caring for and educating their children. Countries such as New Zealand have prioritised returning children of working parents to school.

Nursery and early years children require the most care and are least able to participate in virtual schooling. Most countries have prioritised their return to school.

Without access to childcare, women will be hardest hit, the damage to their livelihoods and careers could take a significant time to repair and undermine previous efforts.

The debate has focused on when schools will reopen but not access to childcare. If schools remain closed until mid-August, should there not be separate consideration on when would be safe to extend access to childcare beyond households where all adults are key workers and the vulnerable.

If private nursery and wrap around/holiday care facilities do not reopen soon they will go out of business. We are relying on this network currently to help care for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. They will also be needed to decrease the attainment gap and working parents rely on them to work.

by kat2020 on May 06, 2020 at 09:33AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 3.8
Based on: 17 votes


  • Posted by Pandamamma May 06, 2020 at 10:03

    I agree, we have received no support for learning for our 2 year old from our nursery provider and their learning has been significantly affected during lockdown, we have tried our best whilst also trying to home work but there is a need for peer interaction and group learning at that age.
  • Posted by Lindaj May 06, 2020 at 10:11

    If it is true that children under 10 do not pass on the virus then fine. Many parents rely on grandparents to pick and drop off children at nursery and therefore staggered times would need to be in place to stop adult to adult contact. Staff would still be in contact with one another so social distancing between them would need to be in place.
  • Posted by KirsteenV May 06, 2020 at 10:33

    Children in the nurseries and early years settings are least able and likely to adhere to social distancing. Although they appear to have milder symptoms, there are now cases of different symptoms presenting themselves which have been extremely serious to the health and welfare of these children. It also has to be considered that staff working in these sectors may have vulnerable family members at home and due to the nature of working with children, they could be putting themselves and their family members at more risk. Parents dropping off and picking up children are then coming into settings, potentially bringing another risk to staff and other parents/children. Due to children being away from nursery for a number of weeks, settling in may be required which often means closer support and contact with children and caregivers.
  • Posted by Laura89 May 06, 2020 at 11:17

    When the staff that are staffing schools and nurseries train, they train because this is their passion not to put their life at risk.
    At no point in any training did they sign up for such dangerous circumstances.
    Staff who go back to offices etc have the option to stay away from colleagues and all share an understanding of the situation and importance of hygiene.
  • Posted by slf May 06, 2020 at 11:33

    School is important for all kids age 3-18 and beyond. We are all suffering.

    I think my child is the most important and should return to school first.

    All pupils and parents are struggling with the social isolation and learning online. No year group is better than any other. It's the kids that come from the most deprived households whose education will suffer the most no matter what age they are.
  • Posted by Flem1xyz May 06, 2020 at 12:13

    In order for people to go back to work, nurseries need to open. Social distancing is never going to work in a pre school nursery, this just needs to be accepted. Other safety measures can be increased.
  • Posted by MairiMac3 May 06, 2020 at 14:51

    EY settings with outdoor facilities such as Forest School or Nature Kindergarten should be encouraged to open in the first instance. The re-settling in of children will take time. If we are to get parents back to work & the economy kick started, given the very minimum risk children under 5 present, this should happen sooner rather than later. We have two EY outdoor settings that are ready to roll for all these parents who simply cannot continue to manage to work from home with under 5s in their kitchens too!
  • Posted by Lstewart May 06, 2020 at 20:17

    Thank you for posting this one. As a full time worker who is struggling big time working from home while caring for a two year old I feel totally helpless here

    They are ok not allowing social distancing in a number of areas. Nursery should be an allowed acceptance to SD rules so parents can go back to work.
  • Posted by LMC May 08, 2020 at 14:42

    Staff deserve protection too!! What about the staff going into these buildings with lack of PPE working with children who can't understand social distancing or who forget to cough or sneeze into a hanky rather than over you or into mid air! Opening centres back up with high volumes of children and staff alike puts staff and families in danger. Children learn so many life skills through everyday activities which they're able to do in the home environment as well as the Nursery such as playing outdoor, loose parts play, painting, mark making, playdough or playing in water to name a few. The highly crucial process is talking to your child and building their vocabulary which again can be done in the home environment. All policy documents highlight that parents are identified as the key educators and shouldn't just be looking to Nurseries to implement such experiences. Nurseries should remain closed until it's safe for all stakeholders!
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