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 are being implemented in settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.

“The Health and Safety Operation Procedures” (SOPs), based on Public Health England and the Department for Education guidance for educational settings and key workers, have been designed to assist in implementing precautionary measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 disease in our settings. The fundamental principle of this guidance, alongside our COVID-19 Risk Assessment, is to ensure physical distancing between identified groups and to implement good hygiene practices. The SOPs are made available for all to review on website and will be updated as and when required.

All staff members, including casual workers, are required to read and confirm their understanding of our SOPs, the site risk assessments, and the safeguarding addendum. Staff should act responsibly and remember their commitment to ensuring the welfare of the wider staff team and the children in their care by continuing to observe government guidelines for maintaining safety, including social distancing where possible, both in and out of the workplace. Where it is not possible to do so or there are any queries about this, staff should, in the first instance, speak to the nursery manager.

All parents are required to complete our “Parent Declaration Form – COVID 19 measures”, confirming that their child does not pose any risk of spreading COVID, before their child starts nursery, and periodically thereafter.

Designated COVID-19 Safety Lead

The nominated Designated COVID-19 Safety Lead is responsible for the monitoring and 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 doing 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, please contact the Area Manager

Safeguarding

Safeguarding is fundamental to our setting, and a COVID-19 Addendum has been designed, in addition to the nursery Safeguarding policy, to highlight our arrangements whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is active. All current nursery policies and procedures remain active.

Training

All working staff are expected to complete online training and provide a certificate of completion. This training will be identified and shared by the nursery manager in advance. Staff are also expected to join the nursery manager and/or Designated COVID-19 Safety Lead on training sessions about nursery procedures, including information about the Health and Safety Operation Procedures COVID-19 Site Response guidance and setting Risk Assessment.

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 has also begun piloting workplace testing for staff to further reduce the risk of spread. Staff should refer to our “Asymptomatic COVID-19 Rapid Testing Proceduresfor further details.

All staff are strongly encouraged to take the vaccine once it is made available to them, in accordance with the government’s roll-out plan. 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 pregnancy, 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.

 

Disruption to Services & Temporary Variations to T&Cs

We are operating in a dynamic situation, where changes both to deal with guidance from the Government which affects the nursery sector and to respond to more local events mean that the need for changes in the way the nursery can or should operate can arise quickly.  The nursery will continue to make best efforts to remain open, provided we are permitted to do so by law, as we recognise that many families rely on the services we provide.

We are aware that parents will understandably have questions relating to the Competition and Markets Authority’s letter of July 2020 and in connection with our Terms & Conditions and we thought that it would be helpful to clarify our position in relation to them, in consultation with our solicitors. Against the backdrop of the realities of running the business in the current climate, 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, considering the impact on our overheads under the various scenarios;
  • To be as flexible as practicable by allowing parents additional flexibility should they choose to withdraw their child based on the temporary variations to our Terms & Conditions.

 

The variations below will operate from 1 March 2021, as temporary variations to our Terms & Conditions, until we notify you that we’re returning to our standard T&Cs. They replace any previous communication on fees during periods of disruption due to COVID-19:

1. Where a Government body prohibits us from providing services to all children, as it did during the first national lockdown in 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;

 

2. Where it is necessary for us to implement a full nursery closure, or a full bubble closure, to contain the risk of COVID-19 spreading, then it is our intention to apply a 50% refund of nursery fees during the closure days in the form of a credit note for the affected parents. The 50% credit is proportionate to the estimated reduction in our overheads during a temporary closure – the nursery will seek to access support under the Job Retention Scheme, where available and applicable, while continuing to incur premises costs, utilities, holiday pay, statutory sickness and maternity pay, payroll taxes, minimum staffing provision and other administrative overheads;

3. Where an individual child is required to isolate, but where the bubble continues to be open to unaffected children and our services will continue to be provided, the nursery will continue to incur the regular operational overheads and, therefore, fees will remain payable in these circumstances, in line with our Child Absence and Attendance Policy;

4. Where we are required to close a full bubble or the full nursery again with less than a 30-day gap since a previous COVID-related temporary closure, 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 maximise the extent of any refund on the subsequent occasion.

 

As a temporary and limited variation to our T&Cs, if a current parent does not want to accept the terms of this policy, with specific regard to our approach to fees outlined above, they can choose to withdraw their child’s place without the usual one months’ notice and no cancellation charges will be applied, provided they inform the nursery manager by 31 March 2021. After this date, and if the child has been attending nursery, it will be assumed that the parent has fully accepted the terms and procedures of this policy, and our usual notice period will apply. For parents registering their child to begin at nursery after 1 March 2021, the variation to our T&Cs described in this paragraph will not apply, as this information is made available prior to registering.

We understand that this is a very challenging time for everyone and recognise that some families will be more adversely affected than others. Where a parent/guardian is facing financial hardship, please contact the nursery manager so that we can explore options to ease the burden you are facing. We’d also like to bring to your attention that, at the time this policy was updated, the Government was providing additional financial support of up to £500 to those on low income who have been told to stay home and self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Further information is available on the gov.uk website.

 

Internal documents and further guidance

  • Health and Safety Operation Procedures COVID-19 Site Response (Internal)
  • COVID-19 Safeguarding Addendum (Internal)
  • COVID-19 Risk Assessment (Internal)
  • COVID-19 Addendum to the Safeguarding Policy
  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 Rapid Testing Procedures (Internal)