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'Why Do We Keep Being Overlooked?' - Isle Of Wight Nursery's Plea To Government

An Isle of Wight nursery says it is in desperate need of access to coronavirus tests and vaccinations - or it faces imminent and permanent closure.

While the rest of the country prepares to lockdown due to a "surge" in coronavirus cases, early years settings have been told they can remain open. 

It means nurseries - such as Top Days, which runs 29 sites across the south, including in Newport - can continue to care for children of key workers.

However, those in charge claim staff - and subsequently the children in their care - are being "overlooked".

The nursery says it has "no access to testing or inoculations other than the access that the general public have", despite being in very close contact with children, changing nappies and feeding with no masks. 

Top Days Nurseries has sent letters to local MPs and NHS Trusts, including Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust.

"Schools, colleges, universities have already been sent free boxes of tests – why haven’t day nurseries?  Why do we keep being overlooked?  We have purchased additional thermometers, cleaning materials and a fogging machine, and risk assessments are in place, but we are experiencing a sharp increase in cases, and the government wants us to stay open.  Please can you help?

 

"Please could you prioritise our day nursery staff for inoculations along with NHS staff? As we are on site, we could also potentially send a couple of colleagues over at the end of the day to prevent any wastage if that is an option?  Please just email or telephone the nursery to let us know."

The Isle of Wight Council has confirmed that early years settings can reopen.

It says further guidance will be provided where possible.

Yesterday (Monday), schools across the Island were deemed "safe" and opened their doors, despite teaching unions advising otherwise.

The Government then performed a u-turn, with Boris Johnson calling schools "a vector" of transmission. 

It has led to the Department for Education's approach being branded “chaotic” and “inconsistent”.

Cheryl Hadland, Managing Director of Tops Day Nurseries, said:

“Early years as a whole have received no additional support for remaining open from today – we do not receive testing kits like schools and colleges, no prioritisation for vaccines, no support with paying for extra cleaning, foggers, or staffing despite being seriously underfunded (half the level of school funding per child) in the first place. We can’t even get SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) back. Within our roles as educators of the next generation, we are delighted for the children as there is no doubt in our minds that children benefit enormously from nursery and are relatively safe.

"Staff are being incredibly brave and the least we can do as a nation is support them effectively. I have written to our local MP’s and Hospitals calling for Childcare workers to be added to the priority list for vaccinations and for the free tests that have already been provided to schools, colleges and university (despite a lot of their students learning on line!). Allowing colleagues to be vaccinated will help ensure continuity of education for children and allow schools to return to normality faster, having a positive impact on children’s mental health."

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