As you know, from 1st June nurseries have been able to welcome back all children because “it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers, key persons, and teachers.” (https://www.gov.uk) It has also allowed more adults to return to work.
It is totally understandable that this development has not been without anxiety for some of our parents.
Whilst the changes in nursery practice that many nurseries have faced are exceptional, we at Toddlers Inn have not been fazed by them.
Right from the start of lockdown, our nursery was open and had been supporting children of key workers and vulnerable children, so when other nurseries were beginning to re-open their doors in June, we were already experienced in all the cleaning and preventative procedures the Government stipulated were vital. Our focus has been and always will be on the children’s well-being and everyone’s safety, but this has never altered Toddlers Inn’s warm, friendly atmosphere or its ethos — which is to offer exciting and engaging learning opportunities with the provision of a wide variety of excellent equipment and tools under the supervision of focused and experienced staff. Our nursery still feels the same.
The Government’s Department for Education clearly stated that it’s unrealistic to expect very young children to social distance at all times but that it should be attempted as much as possible. That’s why, alongside the absolute measures — the taking of children’s temperatures on arrival and when leaving, the stringent use of sanitiser and implementation of regular, thorough hand-washing, the comprehensive cleaning of surfaces and equipment morning and evening as well as during the day, the wearing of PPE by staff when changing messy nappies, the staggering of drop-offs and pick-ups, the expectation that parents stay outside the nursery and (we ask) do not linger too much at the gate — we have adopted what we’ve termed “Natural Distancing” and “Natural Grouping”. This is a way of providing safety within the atmosphere of our usual practice.
What exactly does Natural Distancing and Grouping mean to us? Well, here at the nursery, we’re lucky in that we have a large, open, internal space and an expansive, outside space that encompasses Forest School, allotments, sports areas and art areas etc, all designed to increase the opportunity for children to social distance themselves naturally and remain in the fresh air as much as possible. We are using the space as a whole, keeping windows and doors open all day, and since July 20 have been able to allow the children to move freely between outside and inside spaces. We have invested in a number of outside shelters — even two yurts which have been extremely popular — so small groups of children can be sheltered in different places as much as possible throughout the nursery gardens. Our pod-like sleep coracles are also being moved outside to these spaces as often as weather allows, so that sleepy children can nap in the fresh air.
Rest assured that any child presenting a repetitive cough and or a temperature will be isolated immediately with a single member of staff equipped with PPE and will be required to be picked up straight away.
Worryingly, The Guardian online reported in May that more than 10,000 childcare providers in the UK are likely to fold by the time this whole horrible time is over, referencing a survey by the Childcare online platform. The newspaper also said that there have been suggestions that children should remain in nurseries until they’re a little older and start primary school later in the academic year, say in January. This would decrease numbers and therefore ease the pressures of social distancing in primary schools. Should this come to fruition (and it would require changes in the law if it did), and should several nurseries close, nursery places could soon be hard to come by.
If that happens, Toddlers Inn will always be ready to welcome your children (and to continue to make them feel part of our nursery family) with open arms!