COVID-19 Safety and Adaptations Policy

COVID-19 Nursery Procedures

This policy has been put into place to bring together the various procedures, measures and practices that will be implemented in settings during the COVID-19 pandemic, based on the government advice regarding the changing situation. Our objectives are to continue providing high quality care and education for all children with the safety of our children, families and staff at the top of our mind. The science is not unequivocal, and no measures put into place can reduce the risk to zero; we therefore need to carefully balance this risk with the important role we play in educating children and supporting families.

As an organisation, we will be led by Government advice, and our safety measures will reflect those recommended or mandated by the Department for Education (DfE), the sector, and through staff input. We must remember, however, that we are ALL responsible for safety.  Management, staff and parents all have a shared responsibility to act.

Alongside this policy, our settings will periodically send communication out to parents and employees to keep them updated on their specific procedures. This is designed to assist in implementing precautionary measures to reduce the spread of serious cases of COVID-19, in line with current government advice. Everyone should act responsibly and remember their commitment to ensuring the welfare of all involved in the nursery by continuing to observe government guidelines. If they have any questions on doing so, they should, in the first instance, speak to the nursery manager.

 

Designated COVID-19 Safety Lead

It is their responsibility to monitor the implementation of setting and national guidelines. Their names should be displayed at the nursery for all to see.

Raising concerns

All staff should be aware that they have a responsibility to stringently follow this policy and all related guidance. However, if any staff member is at all concerned that a colleague/parent is not following these expectations, they should, in the first instance, try to politely raise this with the colleague/parent in question. If they are at all uncomfortable to do so or unhappy with the response received, they should follow the below escalation procedures:

  • Raise the concern with the setting Designated COVID-19 Safety Lead (DCSL) or deputy if the DCSL is not available
  • If still dissatisfied, contact the Area Manager

Training

Staff are expected to join the nursery manager and/or Designated COVID-19 Safety Lead on regular training sessions about nursery procedures, including information about the Employee and Parent COVID-19 Procedures.

Testing & Vaccination

In addition to encouraging all parents and staff to get tested if they or a close contact is showing symptoms of COVID-19, the nursery carries out regular workplace testing for staff to further reduce the risk of spread.

All staff have access to Lateral Flow Tests, and are advised to test themselves twice a week, at home. In addition, staff are advised to test themselves prior to returning to work after a holiday or other absence. If staff are in contact with a confirmed COVID case, and are fully vaccinated, they may continue to work, provided they themselves are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and are testing daily for 7 days from the date of contact.

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Rapid Testing kits should be used on site if a positive case has been confirmed in a child or staff member. A test should be taken by all working staff regardless of vaccination status or even if they are not exhibiting COVID symptoms. Staff who are required to self-isolate should book a PCR Test through the NHS as part of their isolation period if necessary, as per our COVID-19 SOPS V20 (February 2022). Staff should refer to our “Asymptomatic COVID-19 Rapid Testing Proceduresfor further details.

All staff are strongly encouraged to take the vaccine, and the booster. The exception to this is where individual staff have been advised by a medical practitioner that it is not safe for them do take the vaccine, e.g. due to allergies or other legitimate medical reasons.

By getting vaccinated, staff will be taking an important step in reducing their chances of getting seriously infected; moreover, they will be helping to reduce the levels of community transmission. From the 16th August 2021, being double vaccinated will exempt them from self-isolation when in close contact to a COVID-19 case (though daily lateral flows are also required). Staff will be required to show proof of vaccination to their line manager at that time. A record will not be kept, due to the sensitivity of the information.

 

Disruption to Services & Temporary Variations to T&Cs

Throughout the pandemic, we have endeavoured to remain open, and will continue to do so. However, there are times when it is safest for the children, their families and our staff if we close a room or the entire setting. We will always endeavour to keep any closure period as short as possible.

The key principles of our approach are:

  • To be transparent in our communication so that parents can make an informed choice;
  • To be fair in our approach to fees and refunds, taking into account the impact on our overheads.

We have updated our approach to fees and refunds for 2022. This is because the amount of government support available has significantly reduced, including closing the Job Retention Scheme (Furlough scheme). We believe our policy is the fairest way forward, to ensure we can continue to operate and provide a high quality of care.

From 4 January 2022 until further notice, our policy will be varied and will be as follows:

  • Where a Government body prohibits us from providing services to all children, as it did from 23 March 2020 – 1 June 2020, then it is our intention to apply a 100% refund of nursery fees in the form of a credit note to any family prohibited from accessing our services. This is based on the expectation that the Government will provide financial support for a mandatory closure;
  • Where a decision is taken to temporarily close the full nursery or part of the nursery due to a COVID-19 related reason, for example a confirmed outbreak or multiple staff needing to isolate, we will apply a 50% refund of nursery fees due from parents during the closure days in the form of a credit note for all affected parents;
  • Where we are required to close the nursery or part of the nursery for more than 10 days in a single half-term period, we will consider the extent to which we can go further in any amounts that we are able to credit back to parents, recognising the additional strain that a subsequent closure in short succession would cause to family finances. We cannot commit to any amount at this stage as it will depend on the availability of Government support at that time. However, our intention would be to look to maximise the extent of any refund on the subsequent occasion;
  • Where an individual child is required to isolate, but the room/nursery continues to be open to unaffected children and our services will continue to be provided, the nursery will continue to incur overheads, and, therefore, full fees will remain payable in these circumstances in line with our Child Absence and Attendance Policy.

We appreciate that for some parents, this may not go far enough. We encourage any parents impacted by financial hardship to speak privately to the Nursery Manager about your options, and to take advantage of government schemes aimed to support those on low-income who are required to self-isolate.

As this is a change of policy, we want to ensure all parents have an opportunity to review it. If any customer wishes to terminate their place based on non-acceptance of this policy, he or she can hand in their notice and, during the required notice period, the updated elements of this policy regarding fees will not apply. Instead, the terms of the previous version of this policy (dated August 2021) will apply during the notice period, up to an end date of 10 February 2022 only. Beyond 10 February 2022, the updated version of the policy, dated 4 January 2022, will apply to all customers.

The above clarifications replace any previous communication on fees during periods of disruption due to COVID-19. Customers will be notified in advance of returning to our standard T&Cs.

 

Internal documents and further guidance