19th March 2020 - Coronavirus
19th March 2020
Here is a further more significant update from us following the announcement from Government yesterday and some clarification from our local authorities just this evening.
All school and nurseries will remain open after Friday to offer services to the parents who are in ‘key worker’ job roles and to vulnerable children. They are still emphasising that children do not seem to be a high risk group, it’s all about the slowdown.
The Government has recognised that schools and nurseries should both support those working people in our society (‘key workers’) who are needed to keep our country going including our health service. We are told that the scientific advice being given shows that settings are safe for a smaller number of children to continue attending but asking others to stay away will delay the spread. We have still unhelpfully not been provided with a definitive list of such key worker jobs, so today we came out to you with our own list as a first pass.
This evening our two local authorities (South Gloucestershire, for our Coombe Dingle setting and Bristol City Council for our Downend setting) have suggested two different lists.
So, this is the plan :
We have already emailed all of our parents today asking you to declare if you are on the key worker list we suggested and we have had a lot of replies from that. Please if you have not yet replied and need to, do so as soon as possible. Here is an updated list taking into account all of the input we now have and is the Red Bus approved list. If this means more of you can ‘opt in’ as such people email us at [email protected] using a title of “KEY WORKER” plus the surname of the child and give us some brief comments about why you should be included on that list.
Anybody who works for the NHS
Other health workers eg medical/health settings
Teachers, Teachers Assistants and Childcare staff, education staff required to
keep operations going to support priority children
Care home workers
Social workers, Educational Psychologists, Therapists
Police officers, community support, civilian staff, highway Agency traffic officers
Prison officer or other probation staff
Environmental health officers
We will also be supporting vulnerable children and we will be making contact with parents of children.
Therefore, included in SEND we are focusing on :
Children with an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
Children going through the process on an EHCP
Children allocated funding from the Early Years SEN Panel
Therefore, included in vulnerable we are focusing on :
Children involved with a Social Worker – ie has a Child Protection Plan, children in Care and children in Need
We will do more work tomorrow to confirm this list too through tomorrow.
At some point tomorrow we will finalise our whole list of opted in children and ring fence those people as priority for our services from Monday. All other parents will need to care for their own children from Monday 23rd March. A caveat to this is if the government issue a definition which is different to what we have agreed with you, we may have to make alterations to that list as we go forward, the Government is pushing through legislation to be able to pretty much ‘order’ us to do what they need to support the country which I do understand is important. Once we have offered childcare for next week we will honour it and any changes would only be made for w/c 30th March onwards and with as much notice as possible. Hopefully we can get the list pretty much there first time around. Equally, if the Government definition widens what we are working to, we will go back to ‘opted out’ parents and see if others can opt in. We have had requests from likely opted in parents for increased sessions as they are being asked to do more hours due to the virus, we will do our best to accommodate this. Caveat is that we also need to make sure we have sufficient numbers of staff to support although we have 120 staff that work for Red Bus so I’m hoping that even at the viral peak we will be able to support.
We will work on child registers for next week and plan staff accordingly to make sure services resumes as much as normal as possible for the opted in parents and children, we want to make sure the children only notice as much change as they have.
Up until now it has all been a bit grey about the financial side. There is progress in this area only this week in that the Government has now declared some financial commitments in confirming the payment of government funding for 2, 3 and 4 year olds until 31st August regardless of settings being open or closed or parents using the hours or not. This is an important one as it is some security. We will still report to them our registered headcount and our attendance so I would like to ask something of your parents now. If anyone does decide to give notice on any of their sessions, please, please, please, consider leaving your funded only hours registered with us for as long as possible, that way we can ring fence that income and we then have some income to play with when considering parent fees and staff wages. It also means those sessions are secured for you ready for when we come out of this.
The Government has also given us a business rates holiday from 1st April for 12 months and ‘financial support’. Not really knowing what the latter is we don’t have a complete picture but at least I have something to work on in terms of being able to financially model our business in a partially open state, especially as we hope to have agreed opted in numbers by the end of tomorrow.
All of this will hopefully lead to some answers on parents fees and staff wages which is paramount for you and us. This is a difficult exercise and I am sure you will appreciate it will take a few days to get the answers, I will be starting this exercise at the weekend to try and get to the answers as soon as possible. Terms and conditions right now remain the same to keep places open and thank you for all the kind support parents have pledged, we are overwhelmed by the level of support for us.
Assuming we get through all of that this week (!) we will be turning our thoughts to our continued relationship with you whilst you are off and I know we can come up with some ideas for support whilst you are at home especially in tackling sensitive issues like helping you to prepare our older children for school in September, in case this continues for a while.
My Leadership Team we will be brainstorming this side of things once we have settled everything else, we will not leave you stranded. We do want to maintain contact regardless so that when we do all come out of this we can hit the ground running.
Our local authorities have a responsibility to the government to provide spaces for all key workers on an ongoing basis through this crisis. Some settings are closed after tomorrow and some will close going forward potentially due to financial issues. They are speaking to nurseries such as ours with a large staff base about potentially diverting key worker’s children to other settings, potentially Red Bus, if their current nursery cannot help them. Please bear in mind that if the Governments/Local Authority asks us to do this I will support such families who are crucial to keeping the NHS going, etc. I’m really not sure where this will go at the moment.
The Local Authorities are also suggesting we consider closing part of our setting and operate in a smaller area which may help in terms of cleaning regime. We will keep our opted in parents updated as these or other changes become necessary, if indeed they do. Please also bear in mind that the Government will have the power to do things like adjust the staff to child ratio if they have to, but hopefully it won’t come to that.
We have already responded to quite a lot of questions via our dedicated email address [email protected] and we are talking to parents as questions arise. Please continue to sue this email address, we are clearing questions daily.
Thank you again for your support.