COVID-19 has brought may challenges to our nurseries, with staff and children adapting to these in such an encouraging way to help protect and reduce the spread of this virus . With social distancing and washing hands being the main guidance, staff have also adjusted to so many changes from constant deep cleaning every day to teaching the children about social distancing; using their hands outstretched to give them an idea of distance they should have from each other. Staff have been great with setting activities, thinking about the layout of the rooms with tables spread out and activities. Where possible we have been able to use other rooms in the nursery to help with social distancing including the use the outside space.
As a Company we have introduced a number of changes to policies and additional measures to help or staff feel supported. We have relaxed the uniform so that staff can change their clothes daily as the virus lives on clothing too but have asked that no jewellery to be worn, nails are cut down as short as possible and if possible, anyone with false nails to have them removed. We are also looking into sources laundry bags so staff can change after work to reduce the spread of the virus. We have also introduced material face masks and face shields which staff have the option of using which some staff have done. Also anyone who is categorised as vulnerable HR have been supportive in working with these staff to help protect and ensure they are able to isolate.
There have been some sacrifices that we have had to make to keep the children safe, trips being cancelled until further notice, children not able to self-service of food or drink, no tooth brushing programme and toys from home not brought in, but we do feel that these small sacrifices are beneficial to help reduce the spread.
Communication throughout this pandemic has been vital. Ensuring staff are up to date with government guidance and how the Company is working with these changes. This has been done through our normal mode of contact email, and now with weekly live Facebook chats and meetings being done via zoom.
Parent communication is also vital with numerous emails being set out with government guidance changes and updates on nursery guidance. We have also asked parents to support the nurseries with checking their child’s temperature at home before they arrive at nursery, and staff monitoring these throughout the day. Parents are also dropping off and picking up their children from the main door with staff helping the children to wash their hands on arrival. We have also had nurseries sending out home activities sent home (put them in a paper bag and leave for 24 hours before sending home to reduce the virus spreading).
It is key that staff are role modelling with the key NHS guidance, and this is something that staff have done brilliantly, encouraging coughing in a tissue or in their arm and with lots of washing hands, some have introduced a reward systems to encourage children to wash their hands. Some of the issues we have faced with washing hands more frequently is that it can cause dryness on the children’s hands. Staff supervise the children to ensure that they have washed the soap suds off their hands fully they are dried thoroughly to prevent sores and dry skin. Good communication between staff and parents allows them to discussed with parents if hand cream is needed from home if they are looking sore.
When the government does relax lockdown, we see this as another challenge to still promote social distancing and protect our children and staff. We are already looking at purchasing 2 meter social distancing tape in readiness of the increase in parents waiting to drop their children off, and also putting tape in the nursery to make it easier to show 2 meter distancing for activities. We are also looking into what we can provide for hand washing outside before children come into the nursery, with some nurseries already having kidiwash sinks available.