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West Berkshire nurseries take the strain in lockdown

Pre-school care continues to give vital support for families

Dan Cooper

Dan Cooper


01635 886632

Burghclere Preschool

Nurseries across West Berkshire are taking tremendous care to ensure they are Covid-secure and compliant following the Government’s decision not to close childcare settings during the third lockdown.

However, it has reignited the national debate about whether they should be open at all when both primary and secondary schools across the UK have been told to close to all pupils except vulnerable and keyworker children.

Ministers have insisted Early Years settings are safe, saying that young children have very low rates of the virus.

However, England’s three main nursery organisations – the Early Years Alliance, the National Day Nurseries Association and childminders’ group, Pacey – have joined together to mount a #ProtectEarlyYears campaign.

They want the Government to provide clear scientific evidence on the risks to early years staff of staying open, particularly in light of the increased transmissibility of the new variant of Covid-19.

Newbury’s Jubilee Day Nursery and its sister site Jubilee Gems in Padworth remain open and continue to follow the Government guidance to ensure the safety of all its babies, children and staff.

Both nurseries continue to remain in bubble groups, both inside and out, with movement kept to a minimum throughout the nursery.

Parents use designated areas when dropping or collecting their children. These are as swift as possible and social distancing is maintained at all times.

Jubilee Day Nursery manager Lesley Thompson said: “We would like to thank our fabulous team who have continued to change and adapt, ensuring all the guidance and restrictions have been met and followed to the highest standard on a daily basis.

“They have continued to give the children in our care a positive, fun and exciting experience throughout a challenging year.

“It is vital that we continue to support our staff, families and the local community throughout this pandemic.”

However, the manager at Burghclere Pre-School, Hayley Lynch, said: “During the first lockdown we closed completely as none of our keyworker/ vulnerable parents wanted to send their children in.

“This time I feel it is completely different as we are not now just open for keyworkers/vulnerable children.

“In my opinion we should only be open for keyworker/vulnerable children, the same as before.

“We are constantly cleaning the equipment, we hoover and wash the hall floor every morning so that it is fine for the children as they like to crawl around.

“We are in a shared hall so it is used twice a week in the evenings so we need to ensure we are Covid safe before the children come in.

“Our risk assessments are changing all the time and therefore there is a lot more paperwork.

“We only have four permanent members of staff and one is self-isolating as the moment.

“It is a constant worry and a struggle keep on top of things in pre-school, which then has a detrimental effect on our home lives.”

Chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association Purnima Tanuku said: “Nurseries and childcare providers are being put into an intolerable position by the Government – being told it is safe to open while schools are being advised to close.

 “This is causing real fear for staff [and] parents.”

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