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Heeeeeeere’s COVID! (Again)

Now, I wrote this post over Christmas, having clocked the rise in cases and had a feeling it wouldn't be long before Parrywood Childcare would once again face the wrath of COVID. I couldn't have been more accurate in my sense of foreboding. At Parrywood Pre-School, Eastleigh we are in the grips of a small COVID outbreak, and with two members of staff now testing positive, we have had to reduce our opening to those vulnerable children, and those of critical workers. This is why actually adding this post to the blog has taken so long, Claire and I have been in battle mode, trying to keep our settings safe and open for those who need us.

We have been in contact with Public Health England, Hampshire County Council and Ofsted, as per our reporting obligations and own policies. All have agreed we are to remain open as normal and continue our enhanced cleaning procedures. We hope that this is just a small bump in our long journey back towards normality.

Who would have thought, as the nation plunged into lockdown back in March 2020, we’d still be living with COVID 2 years later? It’s been a strange, and often challenging 2 years. Some of those challenges have shown the strength and resilience of the Nation, (epitomised by Captain Sir Tom Moore), but there have been many more which have bought us to our knees. The NHS has shown true grit in thr face of a growing crisis, as have many other sectors such as supermarkets, delivery workers and carers.

Working in Early Years has been no different. Each day has thrown us new challenges; from almost daily updates to procedures to the challenging behaviour and gaps in learning created by lockdown after lockdown. (1) Our amazing staff team, as well as battling through their own COVID experiences, are taking on the battles which the children are facing as well…but that is a post for another day.

With the rise in COVID cases across the UK (2) in the past few weeks, we have re-introduced stringent cleaning measures within our settings to keep everyone as safe as we can, and we are updating our COVID contingency plans, which we will publish on the parent area as soon as the finishing touches are complete.

It is important to remember that you could have COVID-19 and have no or very mild symptoms (3). This increasingly appears to be the case with the rise in the number of vaccinated people. COVID-19 is predominately transmitted by airborne particles, (short range aerosol/airborne transmission) but can also be picked up from surface contact and ingested or absorbed through the eyes, nose and mouth (4). With these in primary and secondary transmission methods in mind, we are re-inforcing the following procedures with our families:

I. Wearing of face coverings will be mandatory whilst dropping off and picking up from Pre-School, unless you are exempt from wearing one.

II. Social distancing measures will be enforced. Please follow the signs at your setting and allow others space to wait and pass at a 2 metre distance.

III. Entry will be refused for children who have ANY of the following symptoms:

As well as the above measures, staff are also subject to requirements to help stop the spread of COVID:

I. Wearing of face coverings will be mandatory when interacting with parents and visitors, unless the member of staff is exempt. It is recommended to continue wearing them throughout the day, but this will be left to the individual to decide.

II. Staff must maintain a distance of 2 metres where practical to do so (some interactions with children may necessitate 2 staff members being present and unable to distance. In this case, face coverings are to be worn),

III. Staff to take Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) twice a week on a Wednesday and Sunday and report these to Claire, and the NHS via their online system.

V. If staff develop symptoms or test positive themselves they are to follow latest Government guidance on testing and self isolating and inform Claire or Stacey as soon as practical. Staff are not to return to work until isolation ends or a negative test result returned.

VI. Uptake of vaccines is highly supported, however this remains the preference of the individual staff member.

VIII. Staff are recommended to change their clothes between Pre-School and home and bathe and wash clothes on arrival at home to reduce the risk of spreading COVID.

This alone will not curb any potential outbreaks, so we have also increased our cleaning to peak-pandemic levels. Our cleaning routine includes:

I. Hourly steam clean of all toys, equipment and surfaces in all areas of Pre-School

II. Anti-Viral and Anti-Bacterial solutions are used to clean tables at snack and lunch time, as well as food preparation areas, toilets and nappy changing areas

III. Fogging using Anti-Viral spray at the end of each day, once the children and majority of staff have left the building

IV. Mopping of the floor at the end of each day using bleach and hot water

V. Sterilising equipment, such as pens, clipboards, phones and computer devices between use, using Anti-Viral and Anti- Bacterial wipes

On top of these measures, both settings have received Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitors from the Department for Education. These monitors are placed in high traffic areas to monitor CO2 build up. The higher the level of CO2 the poorer the ventilation is (it is unlikely to reach dangerous levels through normal operations). When the CO2 levels build up, we can open windows and doors (where it is safe to do so) to improve the ventilation in the area. This will allow any particles of virus to be blown away more effectively, making the indoor spaces much safer (9).

Other measures introduced to help reduce the risk of transmission between Pre-School and home are:

II. Leaving non-essential items at home. It would help us reduce points of transmission if you could only bring children to Pre-School wearing appropriate clothing for the day, with a lunch box and any medication they require for the day.

III. We will not be sending books home for book club in order to reduce what is going back and forward between Pre-School and home.

IV. Dropping off and collecting children will remain at the gate (at Eastleigh) or the entrance hall (at Upham). We will only allow parents into the setting for exceptional circumstances.

V. All non-essential visited to Pre-School are currently suspended. Visits which are beneficial to the needs and development of a child will still take place (such as medical professionals, social workers etc).

VI. Visits out of the setting, such as to the farm or library are currently suspended to reduce potential exposure to COVID.

I hope this brief overview can give you some reassurance that we are doing everything we can to keep you, and our amazing staff team safe.

As always, I am available to answer any questions you have. You can contact me directly by emailing me at or dropping me a message via WhatsApp on 07763 501 188 or you can have a chat with any of the team.

With COVID on the rise, I am predominately based at Eastleigh, with Claire staying at Upham to minimise any potential transmission across the settings.

In the coming days I’ll post what we are planning for the blog, but in the mean time please let me know if there is anything you would like to see featured and I will do my best to accommodate it.

Take care out there!

Stacey x

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