Version 1 - updated 25.05.20
We hope this Q&A answers some of your questions. If we have not covered something, please let us know and we will endeavour to answer as best we can at this stage. As you will appreciate, this is an evolving situation and we are constantly reviewing our approach in line with Government guidance.
1. How many children will Playgroup have in from 1st June?
We have written to parents asking for an indication of whether their children will return and what sessions they might require. Keyworkers remain a priority. At present, we are working on the basis that our capacity (26 children per session) will be reduced by around half - capped at 13 to begin with - to allow for social distancing.
So far, 28 out of 49 families have responded to our questionnaire about their childcare needs from 1st June. At present, it looks as though the average number of children we will have in per session is seven.
We anticipate that as lockdown measures are eased further, and as parents’ working patterns slowly return to “normal,” our numbers will slowly creep up. When that happens, we do not envisage being able to take more than a maximum of 15 children per session at that stage.
Keyworker children will remain a priority for the foreseeable future, and we have drawn up a set of criteria within the parent protocol to prioritise which children will have a place. The situation and guidance are ever-changing, so this is all under constant review.
2. How will you prioritise children for attendance?
In line with guidance, we have reduced the number of places for children at Playgroup per session to manage social interactions and minimise any potential transmission of Covid-19. In doing so, it has been necessary to draw up criteria by which we will prioritise children who can attend if there is greater demand than the 13 places allow. The criteria are as follows:
Vulnerable children or children of keyworkers.
Two, three and four-year olds who are Government grant funded.
Children who are due to start school in September 2020.
All other children.
Please note, we may not need to apply this criteria to determine which of our children can attend from 1st June and therefore we hope to be able to accommodate all the needs of our families in due course as part of our phased re-opening.
3. How will the staff rota work when Playgroup re-opens?
Staffing levels will need to reflect the numbers of children we have in. We have been operating in “tag teams” consisting of two members of staff when we have been looking after keyworker children over the last few weeks. This approach was taken to minimise the numbers of staff and children in contact with each other to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
A new staff rota will be drawn up and we will continue to ensure the appropriate ratios of staff to children are met, whilst not over-staffing each session – again, to ensure all potential risks are mitigated. The most important factor in all of this is ensuring the safety of our staff and children.
4. How will the bubbles work?
We are proposing to place children within three bubbles initially, with three children in each; obviously this number is dependent on the number of children attending that day.
Each bubble will then be allocated one member of staff who will look after that bubble for the day. There will also be two ‘floaters.’ There will probably be a total of five members of staff per session / day.
As numbers increase, we would look to introduce a fourth bubble, and increase the number of children within each to a maximum of four or five.
New signage and tape have been purchased to show where each ‘zone’ is located. There will be ‘zones’ marked out both inside and outside. Fancy dress and soft toys have been removed due to contamination risks. All toys have been sterilised and sorted out, with a limited supply being put back into circulation for each bubble.
As new guidance emerges, we will review this approach to ensure we are taking every possible step to keep our staff and children safe.
5. How will you keep my child in their bubble? What if they wander off?
It is widely acknowledged that it is very hard to apply social distancing to pre-school children. It is going to be a case of encouraging children in a fun way to stay within their bubble as far as possible. Having very small bubbles and ‘floating’ staff will help with this.
We acknowledge that prescribing how the children need to stay in their bubbles is totally against our ethos of ‘free play,’ but that is the situation we are in and we have to work with it as best we can. Free play space will be available within the bubble zones. Floor markings will help.
Friendship groups will be kept together where possible, so children are happy in their bubble groups. When a child wanders off to another group or to play on their own, it will be a case of gently encouraging them to return to their own bubble or potentially having to set up their own little bubble.
We don’t know at this stage how the bubbles will work in practice, all we can do is work as best we can to keep the children in their own groups and keep things as normal and as fun as we possibly can.
6. What’s the policy on visitors coming to Playgroup?
As per our protocols, visitors are not allowed to come to Playgroup. All building maintenance, parent or new starter visits will need to be done outside of normal opening hours or by prior consent. If a child is due to visit as part of a pre-arranged settling in visit, this can be done providing social distancing between the adults is maintained and the child plays outside, with equipment being wiped down afterwards.
7. Will Playgroup open over the summer holidays?
We don’t know the answer to this yet, but when we know more, we will let you know. We are open during May half term for keyworker families.
8. If I am concerned about anything, what should I do?
We would like to reassure all parents that we are fully committed to ensuring the safety of your child and all our staff.
Our risk assessment and protocols are available on our website to give you confidence in our approach. If you have any concerns about anything over the coming weeks, please raise these as soon as possible with Tracey or a member of staff.
9. Tollerton School has delayed its reopening; are you going to do similar?
We will only re-open Playgroup in a phased manner from Monday 1st June if the five Government tests are all satisfied at that stage. We will know more next week. We are aware that Tollerton School has delayed its re-opening until 8th June. We do not feel it necessary for us to do the same at this stage, as only two of the returning children are not from keyworker families. We have smaller numbers of children to plan for, and we feel we are in a good position to ensure the safe re-opening of Playgroup.
10. What additional steps are you taking to ensure the safety of children and staff?
We are in regular contact with our staff and are risk assessing all situations to ensure they are able to keep your children safe. Staff will only attend Playgroup if they are symptom free, have completed the required isolation period or achieved a negative test result.
Staff have completed additional online training during the lockdown period on “Wellbeing in Coronavirus.” Children will be supported in appropriate ways to understand the steps they can take to keep themselves safe including regular hand washing and sneezing into a tissue. Children will also be supported to understand the changes and challenges they may be encountering as a result of COVID-19 and staff will ensure they are aware of children’s attachments and their need for emotional support at this time.
All staff have received appropriate instruction and training on infection control and the standard operation procedure and risk assessments within which they will operate. The building, toys and equipment have all been thoroughly cleaned, and a deep clean is scheduled to take place w/c 25th May. We have protocols in place to ensure the highest levels of cleanliness and infection control measures are in place.
During the course of each day, staff will be regularly cleaning, disinfecting and wiping down all frequently touched surfaces including toys. Disposable gloves and aprons, as well as additional cleaning products, have been made available for this purpose. Staff will wash their clothing each day to avoid cross-contamination.
Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended within the guidance. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is only needed in a very small number of cases, and we have an emergency box of PPE available to staff if a situation arises where it is required.
We have also purchased a digital thermometer and may, as a matter of routine, take the temperatures of staff and children when they arrive at Playgroup if this provides parents and staff with greater reassurance that we are fully alert to the signs and symptoms of Covid-19. The guidance, at present, doesn’t mandate this; it would be an additional precautionary measure that may be introduced.
11. Will children be required to do full days or are they still able to do a morning / afternoon session? How would this work with the bubbles?
At present, all our families have requested full days for their children, rather than morning or afternoon sessions. If half day sessions are required, we will look at the logistics and plan accordingly.
12. Will other children (i.e. from Hideout – the before/after school club), be using the premises?
As and when Hideout re-opens, children from the before/after school club will be using the building. We have a protocol in place for the handover of the building between Playgroup and Hideout to ensure the same high levels of cleanliness and social distancing are maintained.
This parent Q&A links into our Coronavirus risk assessment, and seven protocols we have put in place. These are:
Effective infection protection and control protocol
What happens if someone is unwell protocol
Confirmed case protocol
Handover protocol to after school provision
All are regularly reviewed / updated by staff / parent committee in line with Government guidance. All are published on our website – www.tollertonplaygroup.com/blogs .