Testing kits WILL be distributed to PVI nurseries

Following weeks of campaigning and lobbying, the DfE has finally agreed to distribute home testing kits to all early years providers including PVI nurseries from 22 March.

For weeks the Government guidance suggested that PVI nursery staff would have to go to local testing centres – often during working hours and using public transport – to get tested twice weekly. As well as potentially being a challenging journey, nurseries would have to find cover for their staff if centres were unable to offer out of hours appointments.

NDNA has lobbied successfully that PVI nurseries – which deliver the most significant proportion of childcare places – must be treated in the same way as nurseries in schools and maintained nursery schools, both of which have been sent the home testing kits for their staff.

From 22 March, nurseries will start receiving their at-home kits.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA said: “There are two crucial pillars to keeping staff and children as safe as possible in early years settings, mass rapid testing and vaccination of critical workers. The announcement that all staff in PVI nurseries and pre-school settings will have the same access to testing as schools is fantastic news for the sector.

“We have worked hard alongside our members to ensure the practical and logistical challenges are overcome. We hope that soon childminders will also be able to access the testing kits. Early years staff have been desperately waiting for this support since the scheme for schools was announced in December.

“We hope that the roll-out of this plan can happen as soon as possible so early years workers can test at home before setting off to work, limiting the spread of the virus. The next stage has to be the question of vaccination for staff because that is how we can ensure they are as safe as possible and minimise the disruption of care and education for our youngest children.”

The announcement was made by the DfE today following on from the Prime Minister's announcement to Parliament of the roadmap out of lockdown and restrictions.

NDNA will continue to campaign for early years staff to be prioritised for vaccinations in order to make nurseries as safe as possible for their children and staff.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “I know this is a moment that students and parents up and down the country have been waiting for, and I would like to take this opportunity to give my thanks to all education and childcare staff and parents who have worked so hard to make sure students have continued to receive a high-quality education throughout this lockdown.

“The testing of staff and students ahead of their return to secondary schools and colleges, alongside strengthened safety measures, should reassure families and education staff that extra measures are in place alongside the existing bubble system, enhanced hygiene and COVID secure precautions.

“We are all well aware that being back in school or college brings huge benefits to young people’s education, development and wellbeing. The classroom is the very best place for education and the return of face-to-face teaching for all pupils will be a welcome move for pupils and parents across the country.”