Nursery School closure
Please read below regarding The Nursery School closure - Updated Tuesday 12th January 2021
We hope you are all keeping well and safe in this time.
We are writing to further explain why we have currently taken the decision to remain open only for critical key worker families and vulnerable children despite Government guidelines.
In this period of lockdown, it is insisted that we reduce our contact with people and act as if we all have the virus. This makes the decision for us to open for all children troubling and conflicting as leaders. Within Maidenhead Nursery School we have 70 children that attend during the week and if we were working on a full capacity of children, we would need 6 adults in the classroom. It is impossible to socially distance from the children and each other. Our classrooms as you know are open plan and it impossible to prevent cross contamination from one area to the next.
We know that children do not tend to become ill with the virus and thankfully hardly display any symptoms at all; however, that is not the case for adults which includes our staff but also parent community.
The guidance states that Early Year’s provisions can remain open, however as leaders we must legally undertake a risk assessment to ensure that we have measures in place to protect our workforce, children, and community. It also states that ‘We understand that it may not be possible for all settings to be open at this time.’
We want nothing more than to have all our children back in our Nursery Schools as they are empty vessels without the children playing and learning, however at the moment we are unable to risk assess against keeping everyone safe, especially the classroom staff. We currently do not feel staff would be safe if we opened to all children as:
• Some of our staff, although not on the shielding list, have underlying health conditions and/or have families members living with them who could potentially be at greater risk from the virus.
• The rates of coronavirus in Windsor and Maidenhead are now over 700 per 100 000 and this has increased from just below 300 before Christmas. We have staff travelling in from areas of even higher rates (Bracknell Forest, Bucks and Slough).
• Scientists on the SAGE committee including Professor Calum Semple and Professor Anthony Costello have said it is not safe for Early Years settings to open other than for key workers and vulnerable children.
• Research has currently been unable to determine the level of transmission of the virus from an asymptomatic child to an adult.
• Since September, 10% of coronavirus outbreaks or clusters in educational settings have taken place in an early years setting, according to Public Health England.
• The teaching unions have advised their members that nursery schools are not safe and that they cannot be obliged to attend unsafe working environments.
Our Local Authority has been unable to give us any further advice on procedures to implement on how to make our settings safer for staff.
The only way we can currently reduce the risk of virus transmission further is by reducing the number of children and adults who are attending the setting i.e. by limiting this to critical key worker families https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintainingeducational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintainingeducational-provision.
We hope that by managing smaller numbers of children and limiting the staff on site we can continue to support critical and key worker families. We remain concerned that if a member of our Nursery community tests positive for the virus then we will have to close to all children for the 10- day isolation period which we need to avoid.
The team have worked incredibly hard to put together some online learning for the children and this is uploaded onto the website. Staff are also planning to call to check in with families each week.
We fully appreciate that is a difficult and unsettling time for everyone. If you would like to express individual concerns regarding the content of this letter, then please email us at email@example.com.
Helen McHale, Headteacher and Nicola Scannell, Chair of Governors