Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Today's government announcement that from the 20th July, setting no longer have to 'keep children in small consistent groups within settings' will no doubt come as a great relief for many settings. We know how difficult it has been to manage 'bubbles' of children and staff, whilst balancing the cash flow and trying to maintain the viability of your early years business. Over the last few weeks, settings have been trying to ensure they limit the interactions between children and between staff in a bid to reduce the spread of infection, and we have seen some creative solutions to these challenges. So it is clear to see why early years leaders are doing a happy dance and counting down the days till 20th July.
However, it's not a case of business as usual. Leaders will still have to ensure that they take action to minimise the risk of infection spreading and continue to monitor the interactions between staff and children in case of a child testing positive to Covid-19.
Under the new guidance, early years leaders are being told to ensure robust and effective risk assessments are in place, something which we recommended in our leaders guide to opening safely (you can thank us later). The addition of 'System of Controls', also makes it easier for settings to keep children safe, albeit the controls are actions most settings were doing naturally any way. We have created a free system controls poster for you to download as a quick reference guide. Pop it near your desk as a reminder! Download it here: https://www.thekeyleadership.co.uk/resources
Other protective measures must remain in place and autonomy is given to the leader of each setting to decide what they need to do in their setting to keep children safe and minimise the spread of infection. Whilst this autonomy is welcomed, there is no doubt still some grey areas, and leaders may need support and guidance to work through some of the individual challenges they face.
The guidance clarifies that settings can take children out to local play spaces, but only where a risk assessment can show that the children can safely stay 2m apart from others. However, for clarity on sand, water and playdough, leaders will have to draw their own conclusions. Risk assessment and plans to minimise the spread of infection is the overriding message throughout the guidance. In our updated leaders guide we work through the guidance, highlighting the main areas of concerns and identifying how best to embed these in your settings. This is a document you don't want to miss!
And don't forget, you got this and we got you!