National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) has joined with other leading early years organisations the Early Years Alliance and the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) to call on the Government to add early years and childcare practitioners to the list of essential workers offered an exemption to the current self-isolation rules.
Writing to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, the organisations “urge the department to immediately amend the current list of critical services to include early years practitioners.”
Representing their members and the wider sector the letter highlights the rise in practitioners self-isolating, the disruption to children and families as well as the financial cost when settings have to close and the fact that childcare providers have been treated as critical workers throughout the pandemic to date.
“Requiring fully vaccinated practitioners to continue isolating therefore causes unnecessary disruption for young children and their parents and has the potential to leave other critical workers without access to childcare.”
The letter also highlights that early education and childcare providers have “taken rigorous safety measures to ensure their settings are as safe as possible” and are “best placed” to make appropriate decisions on staffing and risk alongside affected practitioners.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA, said: “Since the proposed exemptions were announced we have been urging government Ministers and departments to include early years workers in the list of critical services. They have been providing childcare for critical workers throughout the pandemic and are a vital part of our national infrastructure.
“Every day we are hearing of more and more nurseries having to close due to staff self-isolating, and if there is a safe way of avoiding that for those who have been vaccinated – this should be available to our crucial early years sector. It is disappointing that once gain the Government has failed to recognise the scale of the challenge nurseries and childcare providers are facing.
“In the last wave, as many as three quarters of nurseries had to close and each time this happens it means disruption for children and parents. It also means another financial hit for nurseries with lost income and ongoing costs still to meet.
“The Government needs to act to avoid temporary closures becoming more permanent. They must provide urgent financial support to those who face partial or full closure in this third wave of infections.”