Covid notifications in nurseries rise in January

The numbers of Covid notifications from early years settings has more than doubled at the beginning of this year.Department for Education logo

Figures from the Department for Education were released this morning to show that 582 early years settings (most of whom were shut during this week) during week commencing 28 December reported cases.

And this shot up to 1267 during the first week in January, an increase of 118%. Due to a lag in reporting, the figures for the next two weeks in January will not be published for another fortnight.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “The safety of our children and practitioners in early years settings is the number one priority for providers. 

“These figures show that at the start of January the number of settings reporting cases was double the pre-Christmas levels. Although these statistics are still shocking they will not come as a surprise to those working in early years. Nurseries are doing all they can to minimise the risk within settings but these figures reflect the high level of community transmission across the country.

“However, this data is by notification rather than actual numbers of cases in individual settings. For each nursery there could be a number of staff absent and more children missing out on early education. We need to see the breakdown of how many cases this represents and how many refer to children and to staff.

“We know that nurseries are really struggling to remain open due to staff absences and we are carrying out more research about this shortly. In November 73% of nurseries told us they had been forced to close at some point due to Covid, clearly that figure will be higher now.

“This situation cannot be ignored, nurseries and children are suffering and must be protected and prioritised. Staff must be given at-home testing kits as soon as possible and must be prioritised as a key occupation for the vaccination programme to keep everyone in early years settings as safe as they can be. Nurseries cannot carry on like this without more support, resources and financial assistance.”