Exemplary practice during lockdown

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Taken from Royal Greenwich Early Years E-bulletin 22 May 2020

#UnsungHeroes – Safe Practice Rosie, Manager at More2 Childcare, which stayed open safely during lockdown told us about…

At the start everyone was anxious about the pandemic with so many unknowns. However with clear guidelines parents and staff quickly got used to social distancing and were accommodating about new procedures.

Parents are not allowed past the reception area and they hand over the children by keeping 2 m distance and then off they go. Some new children found it hard to hard to separate at first but we helped them build confidence. We reassured them by ensuring that same member of staff stayed with the child until the child felt comfortable. Like all good transitions, we encouraged them, we know their likes and dislikes and offered lots of comfort including hugs if they cried or couldn’t sleep. We just avoid face to face cuddles and we all wash our hands a lot. The children have got used to this new normal – surprisingly quickly.

We have lots of activities, many outdoors and we keep the windows open for ventilation. There is lots of outdoor play even in the rain! We do planting and water play – we have handwashing stations where the children like to play. We change the water regularly and add a little bit of soap to it.

Our cleaning regime is top dollar – we use Dettol spray on door handles, light switches and toys. We are using general hygiene practices which are thorough anyway in nurseries and have just upped it slightly – the very regular cleaning other places people touch that we didn’t think about before as much is new. Everybody washes hands when they come in and throughout the day. As soon as a child finishes playing with a toy or group of children have finished – the toys are sprayed, cleaned and put away. Then everyone washes their hands again. There are no choices offered at moment – the boxes and drawers are covered over. We put out activities and toys following children’s interests – then they are sprayed cleaned and with different toys put out for variety.

For toileting, we encourage independence and for nappy changing we wear a different set of gloves, aprons, empty out nappy sack more frequently. All children have their own separate food tray which is sprayed before and after use. To avoid cross contamination, we have bubbles of children with staff. Bedding is washed at least twice a week and we have deep cleaning daily of each room.

All of our current children sleep – at least one hour, so 2 members of staff cover while other staff stagger their one hour break. The staff room will be unavailable to all staff at the same time – so they go outside; some staff live locally and will go home and then that leaves more room in the staff area to socially distance.

The staff team have been amazing – they have put the plan in action, following new routines and are clear about the expectations to wash hands. We have a WhatsApp group to check in about staff wellbeing –and we have sent questions and answers to staff who are on furlough. We have been in touch with our HR advisors and are answering their questions before they come back to work. Shielded staff will be the last to come back to work when the government says it is safer for them and we will look at all of their vulnerabilities and look at what we can to help.

It is difficult for the young children to understand, but some of the older children understand that there are germs – and that the nursery is cleaned to get rid of germs. Children are very adaptable – it’s surprising how quickly they have got used to new routines.

One strength at our nursery is gently encouraging children to be more independent and to have a go at new things. We have seen some amazing development. Some children at the start of lockdown were struggling with eating. Whilst we were cooking on site as our usual caterers were shut down we were able to encourage them to use their cutlery and support to feed themselves. We have seen new milestones reached every day!

This is my first senior managerial post in a day nursery – it has been a rewarding time helping to keep our keyworkers at work and their children safe and happy. I am really proud of myself for rising to the challenge! We are also really proud of the children. We can’t take away all risk but we can reduce it to a very low level by being sensible. We can’t wait to see the rest of our children, they will have grown and changed so much. Together we are building strong, resilient children, to have a can do attitude!