From the chalkface: Planning for return
This collection of ideas/views is a curated list of practitioners across a range of Early Years settings working in the UK and their plans for reopening post-lockdown.
I have taken your advice and first of all been in to nursery and taken away the soft furnishings and toys.
I have made space in the environment for children to be able to play if inside on the floor if they prefer rather than a table and I have limited the tables but spaced out enough for those that want to work/play there.
I have looked at resources and I have kept out the ones that can be easily washed and put the more difficult ones away.
I have created a basket for each child with a starting resources of scissors, glue, crayons, papers of different kinds that they can keep as their own and I can just top them up or add anything else that they might want if suitable the basket can be used inside and outside their choice
I have a big outside area and have again looked at ways to use that along with forest school ,creating areas and shade
I have 12 children out of 42 wanting to come back and have started making contact with the children and parents and I have 3 adults so small groups of 4 .
Early Years Leader, Shropshire (1)
So long, farewell to all the fiddly, hard to clean loose parts in my environment... we will meet again, I promise! So what now..? Whilst I still want the children in my class to be creative and access open-ended resources, I want a way that is safe, limits the amount of time spent cleaning and here resources are easily, and cheaply, replaceable. So... welcome to my recycling pots - you name it, we're got it. The children can explore and create to their hearts content and at the end of the session, the resources can find their way back to the recycling bin and the area can be restocked.
Early Years Leader, Shropshire (2)
The thought of opening back up was initially quite a scary thought. How do I socially distance? How do I keep everyone safe?
Then I read an article about nurseries in Denmark and how they were managing the situation. reading about the bubbles of children was reassuring and I thought to myself I will have 3 in my bubble, possibly 6 at the most, that helped to alleviate the fear.
I won't be social distancing from the EYFS children, it's not fair on them. We'll hand wash and sing songs. Wipe surfaces, rotate books and toys. Carry on as normally as we can just with less clutter making the setting easier to clean the end of the day.
I am taking the opportunity to embrace as much of a Montessori approach as I can.
Childminder, West Yorkshire
So, returning to Nursery after the peak of a pandemic was never something I really planned on for my career and yet here we are. Thankfully, Early Years has always been adaptable (let’s face it, we have to be!) A lot of online zoom meetings have brought us to the stage where there is a cautious confidence around opening. Upon entering the children will have their temperature taken. As a company we have chosen not to greet children with face masks (although, if staff feel strongly about this then they can wear them) as we feel that the masks are an anxiety trigger for children and they would much prefer to see our smiling faces, after all we are glad to be back with them. A staff member will then take them to their base room. Our children will then remain with their peers and dedicated staff teams in “bubble rooms” which is a new term for us. Basically we are not mixing the children from one room with another to minimise the potential for infection. Above all we are increasing cleaning and handwashing but doing this with a sense of positivity and particularly with positive language around the children. Nursery won’t be the previous normal but it will be a different normal with the same amount of love and care (probably even more of that) as before.
Private Nursery Deputy Manager, North Yorkshire
When I volunteered to join our preschool committee four years ago, I naively thought it might be a bit of fundraising, making teas at charity events and baking a few cakes, you know the sort of thing.
How wrong I was... I'm now the chairman, facing the biggest challenge I've ever faced, either in my working life or as a volunteer. Over the past two months we've had to furlough most of our staff, completely change working practices that have been in place for years and adapt to a situation the like of which has never been seen before, all the while keeping an eye on our finances so we can ride the storm.
But the managers at both settings have been absolutely outstanding, keeping abreast of all the changes and regulations which seem to change daily, sometimes hourly. The staff who have continued to work have done so with dedication and care, while those on furlough leave have been understanding of the situation we are in. Our finance officer has proved she's worth her weight in gold and then some, also keeping on top of all the changes and developments.
We've got new policies and statements for parents to sign before that all important date of June 1 and for those four or five children we'll have every day that first week, I know that the safety, love and care that we are known for will continue to be there. Staff have PPE available but it's personal choice whether they wear it as they are concerned about scaring children. Only one parent will be allowed to drop off/collect. Displays are massively reduced, cleaning will be on a constant rotation, parents are signing to say they will adhere to government social distancing guidelines while out of the setting and will only use the one setting....
Committee chair of a small Private Nursery chain, Derbyshire
We are trying to make as few changes as possible to keep things normal for the children. We are lucky that numbers in June are quite low so the small bubbles are just the children in their usual rooms with their usual staff. We have removed the sand and malleable play but we are keeping water play and putting antibac hand soap/washing up liquid in for bubbles (changed after each child plays). Staff are staying with the same bubbles all week and don't mix with other staff, staggered breaks etc and no parents in the buildings at all. We have footprints outside for parents to wait on and they hand over their child to a familiar adult at the door. We will do a brief handover but more feedback will be added on the messaging feature on our online profile system. Parents can also use this to share important info. There is also much outdoor play as possible.
Area manager for a Nursery chain, England.