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Nursery Life During Coronavirus

Hopscotch and our Experience

Hopscotch has over 30 years of experience providing first class childcare. We have also adapted to recent changeable circumstances, drawing on our expertise and experience, to ensure we have been able to continue providing childcare since reopening on 1 June last year. Our passionate staff teams have worked tirelessly throughout these challenging times to ensure we can continue to provide a service to all of our families.

We are still open (January 2021)

Despite new national Government lockdown restrictions announced in January 2021, we remain open and our Ofsted outstanding nursery environments are safe, secure and supportive. The fact that our children continue to be so happy at nursery is a testament to all the hard work our Managers and staff have put into ensuring life at nursery continues as normal.

Wonderful testimonials from parents

Please see some of the wonderful testimonials we have had from our parents since reopening in June last year on our Testimonials section of the website.

What you need to know about nursery life during this time

We have tried to answer as many questions as possible but if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at office@hopscotch.uk.com. We will do our best to respond as quickly.

We have updated our Coronavirus FAQs in the light of the current 2021 Coronavirus situation and Lockdown measures as introduced on 5 January 2021.

Is it safe to continue sending my child to nursery?

We understand this is a worrying time for everyone and we want to ensure life for our children can continue as normally as possible. The safety and wellbeing of all our children and families and staff is our number one priority. Our nurseries remain open as per Government guidance which has, despite national lockdown restrictions, deemed the situation to be safe enough for Early Years settings to continue to provide childcare to all families who need it. The Government has  clarified their reasoning for keeping nurseries such as ourselves open and the main point is that Early Years settings continue to remain low risk environments for children and staff: 0-5 year olds continue to have the lowest confirmed rates of coronavirus of all age groups, and there is no evidence that the new variant of coronavirus disproportionately affects young children. Furthermore, we have been open to all children since last June and there is no evidence that the Early Years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Our own experience in terms of the number of positive cases amongst children and staff, which so far has been minimal, also supports this. Further information on the Government response to the Early Years Alliance is available here: https://www.eyalliance.org.uk/news/2021/01/dfe-provides-update-rationale-behind-decision-keep-early-years-providers-open

We have implemented a number of new measures in the nurseries to mitigate the spread of the virus, which are explained in more detail below. We understand many of you will have concerns around continuing to send your children to nursery at this moment in time, however, we will continue using our significant experience in childcare and our newly acquired experience in mitigating Coronavirus to ensure all aspects of opening our nurseries safely are considered and all necessary measures are taken at every nursery location.

Brighton and Hove council have closed their nurseries. Why are you still open?

It is true that Brighton & Hove Council did recently take the decision to close council-run nurseries in the area. However, prior to doing this, Brighton & Hove Council communicated to us that as an independent Early Years setting there is no issue with us remaining open and they have full confidence in the robust Coronavirus management measures which have been in place since we reopened last summer. Furthermore, the Council said their decision to limit attendance at its nurseries to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, does not suggest nurseries are no longer safe places, but rather that limiting attendance at council nurseries will help to reduce the number of contacts between people overall.

What are you doing to protect children and staff?

We are following all Government guidance on how to ensure our ‘COVID-secure’ environments continue to protect the wellbeing and health of all our children and staff, even in light of the more transmissible strain of Coronavirus. We have updated our detailed Risk Assessments and Site Operating Procedure (SOP) documents for each nursery. Social distancing measures are implemented where possible, where possible we try to create smaller groups of children and to reduce mixing of groups, we continue our emphasis on good hygiene and in particular on thorough and frequent handwashing, there is a renewed focus on outside learning and activities, and also we have been developing health and wellbeing specific activities which will increase children’s awareness of good hygiene practices and help protect their mental health at these challenging times. We want nursery life to continue as normal for all our children once they arrive at the start of the day and they should really see no difference to how things were prior to the pandemic.

We will continue the frequent and thorough cleaning of all nursery areas with suitable anti-viral chemicals. This will be led by our own internal team of housekeepers who will also be supported in their duties by other staff members. In addition, we will be undertaking regular deep cleans of our nursery premises.

Will you be taking the temperatures of staff and children each day before they attend nursery?

No – as per Government guidance, there is no advice for us to take the temperatures of staff or children before they attend nursery. According to the Government advice, testing an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying Coronavirus. Where we have any suspicion about a child’s general wellness we will closely monitor them for any possible signs or symptoms of Coronavirus and where required we will advise parents to undertake a test as needed.

We therefore will instead reiterate the need to follow the standard national advice on the kind of symptoms to look out for that might be due to coronavirus, and where to get further advice. If anyone in the household develops a fever or a new continuous cough they are advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance (which states that the ill person should remain in isolation for 10 days and the rest of the household in isolation for 10 days).

What about PPE?

We are following Government advice on this subject and currently there is no requirement for nursery staff to wear additional PPE items whilst working in the nursery. We will be asking staff who are answering doors at drop-off and collection times to wear some PPE including face masks, gloves and aprons in order to afford them extra protection at these times. Staff who wish to wear their own masks or other PPE items will be permitted to do so.

How are you implementing social distancing?

Whilst maintaining social distancing at nurseries is not realistically possible (as acknowledged in Government guidance), there are a number of other measures we will be implementing to help mitigate the spread of the virus in the nursery environment. These include creating smaller cohorts of children who, where possible, will be led by the same members of staff. These groups will be kept a safe distance from other groups and mingling between groups will be kept to a minimum.

We will be asking parents to adhere to social distancing measures at drop-off and collection times and all parents or carers are required to wear a mask at these times. Those who do not wear masks will be politely reminded of the need to do so. Parents will no longer be permitted to enter the nursery premises and although we understand this will be challenging, we will do our best to support you and your child at these times. It is vital that everyone plays their part in order to help mitigate the spread of Coronavirus and we are reliant on all of our parents to help ensure the virus does not spread amongst our nursery communities.

All staff are very well versed in our Coronavirus measures and they have all reviewed are familiar with each site’s Coronavirus Risk Assessment which clearly sets these out.

How can you ensure that the nursery environment is clean?

As always, excellent hygiene is a priority. Our housekeepers are  working increased hours and other team members are also undertaking regular cleaning duties as part of their daily tasks. We have invested to ensure we have the most effective cleaning products and tools available. We have also limited the use of soft furnishings and fabric resources, including the soft play rooms. Our staff teams have developed healthy and rewarding exercise activities as fun alternatives.

Will your staff have access to testing?

Unfortunately as yet we do not have access to mass testing capability of the kind seen in care homes. Our Director Philip has raised the issue with local MPs and council representatives who have acknowledged the request and are looking into this on our behalf. We will update you on the situation as things develop.

Do your normal Terms & Conditions apply?

We want to be as flexible as possible in order to support our families during this difficult time. If you think you may have any challenges paying your normal fees, please contact us at office@hopscotch.uk.com

Unfortunately, we also need to remind you that failure to provide payment in full and on time will mean we are not able to provide you with childcare and your booking at Hopscotch could be terminated if payment is not promptly made.

My child will only be able to attend by using their free entitlement hours. Is this allowed?

Normally, entitlement hours must be combined with other hours at Hopscotch. However, as recognition of the current situation, we are exploring ways to be more flexible in the way funding hours are applied. Please discuss this with your Nursery Manager or our Head Office who will be able to advise on further details.

Information about how changes to personal circumstances may affect the allocation of funding by the Government is provided below.

Does my funding still apply?

We are waiting for further guidance from the local authorities and from the Government about how funding will be allocated this term. We will keep you updated on this. More information is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-can-get-tax-free-childcare-and-30hours-free-childcare-during-coronavirus-covid-19

How will I pay for childcare?

Due to social distancing measures, we are now no longer able to accept cash or cheques as a payment method at our nurseries. We have trained more office staff to be able to take payments via the phone. You can still pay by BACS and other payment choices such as TFC, Voucher Payments and Direct Debits will not be affected.

Will you close again in the future?

Prior to the lockdown last March, Hopscotch had never unexpectedly closed in over 32 years of business and we were extremely proud of this record. We are sad that we had to close some of our nurseries, but we are also very proud that we were able to keep our Preston Park nursery open for Key Workers.

Like many of you, we simply do not know what the future holds. We are closely monitoring the situation and if there are any changes to rules about nurseries remaining open then we will notify you as quickly as possible about what this means from a childcare perspective. We will also always make the decisions based on the wellbeing of our children, staff and everyone’s families. This might also include a short-term temporary closure of some nurseries where staff availability has affected our ability to continue operating in a safe way for all.

Will nursery life go back to ‘normal’?

Hopscotch continues to strive to provide the best possible childcare for our Hopscotch families and to ensure our children thrive and flourish in our safe, supportive and outstanding nursery environments. We are hopeful that the we can remain open in the coming months and that the vaccination programme will also restore some normality as it is rolled out across all sections of society.

 

We have tried to answer as many questions as possible but if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at office@hopscotch.uk.com. We will do our best to respond as quickly as we can.

 

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