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 for Step 4 and the reducing risk. 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, we have sent a letter to all parents and employees, laying out the nursery 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. All staff members, including casual workers, are required to read and confirm their understanding of this policy and the procedures documented in the letter. 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. If they have any questions on doing so, they 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 risks of spreading COVID, before their child starts nursery, and may be required to repeat on an as-needed basis if there is a material change in government guidelines or our response to the situation.

 

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’s 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.

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 SOPs. Staff should refer to our “Asymptomatic COVID-19 Rapid Testing Proceduresfor further details.

All staff are highly encouraged to take the vaccine. 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, being double vaccinated will exempt them from self-isolation when in close contact to a COVID-19 case. 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, the nursery will make best efforts to remain open. From the 16th August 2021, the government have announced the end to self-isolation for those under 18 or who are fully vaccinated, even if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 case however in exceptional circumstances, we may still need to send certain children home. 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.

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.

These clarifications below have been operating from 1 March 2021, as temporary variations to our Terms & Conditions, and continue to operate until we notify you that we’re returning to our standard T&Cs:

  • 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;
  • Where there is a suspected outbreak of COVID-19 at the nursery, which leads to the nursery or part of the nursery being closed temporarily to prevent the spread, 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 all 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, as long as it is available, while continuing to incur premises costs, utilities, payroll costs not subsidised by the JRS, minimum staffing provision and other administrative overheads.
  • 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.
  • 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;
  • Where it is necessary for us to close a specific room or section due to issues arising from COVID-19, such as where we are unable to provide our services due to staff having to self-isolate but children are not, then it is our intention to apply a 100% refund of nursery fees in the form of a credit note to any family we are unable to offer our services to.

 

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