The Scottish Government published new guidance to support settings in planning for the safe reopening of early learning and childcare (ELC) settings in Phase 3 of Scotland’s Routemap.
No date has been set for Phase 3 reopening.
The Care Inspectorate will confirm to all settings the earliest possible date for the wider provision of daycare of children in Phase 3, beyond critical childcare and those services already able to operate during Phase 1. The Scottish Government have said they will seek to give as much advance notice as far as is possible.
Safe reopening of nurseries will involve the following:
Enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices
Caring for children in small groups
Minimising contact between those groups
Maximising use of outdoor spaces and
Physical distancing between adults in the setting, including parents at drop off and pick up times.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA Scotland said: “The fact that this guidance has been produced for early learning and childcare settings well in advance of any re-opening gives providers plenty of time to prepare. The wellbeing of children and staff will be at the heart of plans so that as more children are able to return nurseries and providers will be safe places.
“Putting these measures in place will naturally mean providers will face extra costs at a time of reduced demand. This means there are real fears across the sector that nurseries won’t be sustainable in the longer term as children start to return. Additional costs will include installing partitions and more cleaning and changing stations, but will also include PPE costs, hand sanitizer as well as needing more staff to keep consistent smaller bubbles.
“If childcare settings aren’t sustainable this would be disastrous for families and children as well as the economy. NDNA is calling for the Scottish Government to look at recovery and transformation funding to nurseries so they can continue to do their excellent job of supporting children’s development and learning while allowing parents to return to work.”
Jane Malcolm, NDNA Scotland’s ELC Strategic Partnerships Manager, gave an interview to BBC’s Reporting Scotland news programme yesterday which can be seen here
at 14 minutes 50 seconds in along with NDNA member Fiona Catto of Leaps and Bounds Nursery in Paisley.
The Scottish Government have also said that depending on when Scotland enters Phase 3, it may mean that childcare providers have the option of reopening before the schools return on 11 August.
There is an acknowledgement that the guidance is not a one-size fits all approach and that it will have different impacts on individual settings.
The guidance has also taken account of appropriate plans to prepare for reopening, taking account of arrangements for staff who are furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The Care Inspectorate has explained the purpose of the guidance and what will happen next. This re-affirms the point about a date not currently being available for a wider re-opening of ELC settings.
NDNA Scotland has been working with the Scottish Government on the need for more clarity on situations where critical workers are in need of childcare.