19th March 2020 - Coronavirus

19th March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

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
 Supermarket workers
 Delivery drivers
 Police officers, community support, civilian staff, highway Agency traffic officers
 Prison officer or other probation staff
 Firefighters
 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.

Financial
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.

Best regards
Liz Hogarth
Managing Director/Owner

19th March 2020 - Coronavirus

19th March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Yesterday’s announcements regarding the closure of school and nurseries has left the nursery industry in some confusion as currently the statements regarding nurseries are ambiguous in that it looks like the Government is asking nurseries to follow the same guidelines as schools rather than forcing closure. This has led to some nurseries announcing closure and some announcing that they are not closing.

At this point in time we do know that as a minimum we will be open to support ‘key workers’ who need to keep working to keep our lives operating and safe. The definition of a ‘key worker’ has unhelpfully not been issued yet but we are hoping for that today.

I will issue a more detailed update generally later as more government meetings are going on this morning, in the meantime we would like to start compiling lists of children who belong to such key worker parents to give us an idea of the numbers. I stress this is a provisional list and children may need to be added to it and taken back off as further information becomes available. At this point this does not guarantee childcare, we are simply trying to plan the best we can.

If one or both parents of children believe they are in one of the following key worker roles, please email [email protected] using the title “KEY WORKER <followed by your child’s surname>”. Please choose the work role on our list that applies to you and add a little bit of detail about your role. Please advise if 1 or 2 parents are affected.

For anyone who believes their own role should be on there, please advise us of what it is and your reasoning, to the same email address, stating the key role and some comments.

If you are in doubt or have questions you can email us to the same email address.

 NHS providing front line care, eg doctors, nurses, midwives, etc
 Other health workers eg medical/health settings
 Teachers and childcare staff, education staff required to keep operations going
 Care home workers
 Social workers
 Supermarket workers
 Delivery drivers
 Police officers, community support, civilian staff
 Prison officer or other probation staff
 Firefighters
 Environmental health officers
 Highway Agency traffic officers

Thank you for your patience, more to follow later today.

Best regards
Liz Hogarth
Managing Director/Owner

16th March 2020 - Coronavirus

16th March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Here is another update from us following the announcement from Government this afternoon.
The new advice and actions have not been targeted specifically at our nursery sector or schools but they have a big impact on us all as individuals. The Government is staying away from the closure of schools and nurseries on the basis it seems that we need to keep key workers in roles to support our country and also because children without additional risk factors appear to be low risk in terms of the virus. We therefore continue to take this Government guidance and I for one will do everything I can to keep our settings open if it helps the workforce support the most vulnerable in our community. We also appreciate that some of the most vulnerable in our society are also carers for some of our children and we will do our best to accommodate support for parents should grandparents for example be isolating.

Our internal committee has been, and will continue to be, in daily contact to ensure we are properly implementing our plan and are recognising on the ground what is happening and are planning for potential new developments. We have received some questions via our dedicated email address [email protected] and we are talking to parents as questions arise. I would say that our parents and staff have been brilliant in taking a sensible, calm and measured approach and I think we should continue to work together as long as possible, thank you very much for this.

What must we all do now, staff and parents, to prevent the virus coming to Red Bus
now the risk has gone higher ?
(1) Please follow the following guidelines from the World Health Organisation on infection control:
 Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
 When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash your hands;
 Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean;
 Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces.

(2) WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT RED BUS YOU MUST USE ANTI-BACTERIAL WASH AS YOU COME THROUGH THE DOOR AND AGAIN BEFORE YOU GO IN YOUR CHILD’S ROOM IF YOU DO NOT GO THERE DIRECTLY. IF WE RUN OUT OF SUPPLY WE WILL REVERT TO A HANDWASHING STATION;

(3) PLEASE RESTRICT TO A SINGLE ADULT COMING TO NURSERY;

(4) The government has recommended to stop all non-essential contact. This is a tricky one for us and you as we have contact with each other as children are handed over. FROM THIS POINT ONWARDS WE ARE ADVISING YOU AND OUR STAFF TO HAVE A QUICKER HANDOVER WITH NO PHYSICAL CONTACT WHEN HANDING CHILDREN ACROSS. IF YOU WISH TO DISCUSS ANYTHING FURTHER YOU ARE MORE THAN WELCOME TO CALL OR EMAIL DURING THE DAY;

(5) CHILDREN WILL NEED TO WASH THEIR HANDS AS SOON AS THEY ARRIVE
INTO THEIR ROOM;

(6) If you or anyone in your household develops a new cough and it continues, or you have a high temperature, you should all stay at home and do not leave the house for 14 days. Please advise us. You are welcome at Red Bus beyond this time period unless you have symptoms and the condition worsens and you have to refer to the NHS. The 7 day isolation now only applies to individuals who live alone;

(7) If you or anyone in your house contracts the virus with a positive test result, as for our staff, all people in that house must stay at home for 14 days. Please advise us as we would take advice from Public Health in this instance;

(8) Staff or children who become unwell at our setting and have a continuous cough or a high temperature will be sent home for 14 days and the same rules above should apply;

Keep us updated – travel plans
Same principle as per our last communication. Certain countries have been identified as having been severely affected by the virus, we are asking parents and staff to make us aware if you have travelled or plan to travel to the affected countries so we can manage this appropriately at the nurseries, although travelling is now severely restricted. If you return from an area which does not require automatic self-isolation, and you have no symptoms, you should bring your child into nursery as normal. If you do have symptoms on your return including a continuous cough or high temperature, you should self-isolate.

Pregnant women
The Government has taken a precautionary approach with respect to pregnant women. Although there doesn’t appear to be a lot of evidence for this being a significant worry area, pregnant women are being classified as one of the vulnerable groups who likely by the end of this week will be asked to consider staying at home for possibly 12 weeks (in addition to people over the age of 70 and adults under the age of 70 who have profound health problems). With no symptoms, your child can still come to Red Bus.

Children going home with symptoms
We do have some updated procedures in case of a child presenting with the symptoms in that we will remove them from other children and staff and care for them separately whilst we wait for parents to collect them (whenever possible), cleaning as we go! YOU MUST COLLECT YOUR CHILD STRAIGHT AWAY ONCE WE HAVE CALLED YOU. We will be governed by Public Health should there be a confirmed case of the virus at Red Bus.

Other changes
From Wednesday 18th March, any non-essential visits to the nurseries will be cancelled. This includes new parents looking around our setting and parents’ evenings. All parents’ events will be cancelled until further notice. All child activities away from the setting will be cancelled until further notice except our forest school sessions which will have updated risk assessments (please note that if our qualified forest school staff have to self-isolate, or we have too few staff to do this, this position could change). We will screen any essential
visitors beforehand, we will include in our essential list those we feel need to attend to keep our nursery running effectively.

We are continuing to do all the other things we spoke about in our previous communication. We feel this is the appropriate level of action at this point in time but are mindful this could continue to change very quickly. We are monitoring any developments to the situation and will provide updates where necessary. In addition we are also trying to stay one step ahead by planning for potential future changes, plans which are developing in the background to support you the best we can as this continues.

We are experiencing some difficulties in sourcing some items of food and consumables but we have opened up new channels for such purchases and we are ok at the moment.

At this point our standard terms and conditions remain in place for children not attending the setting, the fees remain chargeable. We have not yet had any updates from the Government on support available moving forward.

Please do not hesitate to contact Red Bus by email at a central mailbox which is [email protected] and we will respond to you as quickly as we are able. I would encourage you to use this route if you have any questions but if you do need to speak to someone at the setting please refer to your Early Years Manager via the office. We will be posting this update and future ones on our website as promised and we will issue new communications as appropriate.

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Thank you for your support.
Best regards
Liz Hogarth
Managing Director/Owner

13th March 2020 - Coronavirus

13th March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Due to the recent increased focus on Coronavirus, we would like to take the opportunity to set out the Company’s position on the various issues that may arise.

Right now the number of cases of the virus in the UK remains relatively low, as does the risk of exposure, thankfully children in good health are not considered in a high risk category. However, we appreciate that the situation has been developing quickly so we have put together this communication that is intended to inform and support.

We have set up an internal committee to manage our changing policy, to track relevant information from both of our settings, to ensure information is out there for our parents and staff and to reduce the risk of the virus entering our settings. As you know nurseries have a very high standard of hygiene ordinarily which naturally has been heightened even further, this has meant we were able to act quickly from the early stages.

Red Bus will continue to make every possible attempt to prevent spread of infection to staff members and families in our care. However, this is a team effort, we need our families to act responsibly and work with us to allow us all to work through this in a safe way. It is likely we will have tougher times ahead in terms of disruption both for our families and Red Bus as a carer and a business and I would urge all our parents not to be tempted to deflect any frustration towards us, we will do our absolute best to manage this properly.

What is Red Bus doing to prevent the virus coming to us?
 We have set up our Coronavirus committee including myself, Head of Operations, Estates Manager and People Lead who are talking and acting daily;
 We have introduced heightened hygiene procedures such as children washing their hands or have hands washed an ‘additional’ 4 times a day over and above usual hand washing and naturally even more hand washing for staff. We have placed hand gels on every door and continue to clean surfaces of high contact areas such as toilets, door handles, telephones, hand held devices and frequently touched objects;
 We are immediately following the advice given by Government with respect to our staff isolating at home if they have a high temperature or have a new cough that continues;
 We are immediately following the advice given by Government with respect to asking our parents/carers to isolate at home if they have a high temperature or have a new cough that continues, for themselves and their children;
 Guidance and briefings are in place for our staff and they are kept up to date with all relevant information and measures required;
 Visitors and any outside sub-contractors will be screened and will only be allowed to enter our building if they pass that screening, including any agency staff;
 We have a plan in place to provide parents/carers and staff with regular communication and government updates;
 We have plans in place should things escalate;
 We are monitoring our reliance of external providers, particularly our food and consumables suppliers, keeping buying options open. Currently we have minor issues in this area. If certain food items become unavailable and we cannot deliver our menu for the day, alternatives will be provided and an updated menu of what is on offer for the day will be displayed for parents/carers and all dietary needs will be catered for as usual;
 We receive up to date communications from the Department of Education.

We understand that parents have a lot of ‘what if ….’ type questions, as we all personally do, however, we cannot speculate but only take action and inform as this progresses. This includes questions about fees, nursery closures, temporary reduction in staff due to illness, etc. etc. All we can say at the moment is that current rules apply right now, our fees are applicable if a child is away from nursery for any reason. At this point the Government has not given out any additional information about their support of settings should this escalate significantly or at some point nurseries are asked to close. Rest assured we will act decisively as things progress.

What must parents/carers do to prevent the virus coming into Red Bus ?
Please follow the following guidelines from the World Health Organisation on infection control:
 Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
 When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash your hands;
 Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean;
 Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.

Keep us updated – travel plans
We know that some of you will have plans to travel in the near future, including pre-booked holidays. Certain countries have been identified as having been severely affected by the virus we are asking you to make us aware if you have travelled or plan to travel to the affected countries so we can manage this appropriately at the nurseries. For the latest government advice see https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Keep us updated – self-isolation
The Government is currently advising people to self-isolate if they have recently returned from certain countries even if they have no symptoms, which means staying at home and not having contact with other people. If you return from an area which does not require automatic self-isolation, and you have no symptoms, you should bring your child into nursery as normal. If you do have symptoms on your return including a cough, fever or difficulty breathing, you should self-isolate.

The latest advice is for a person to stay at home for 7 days if they have a high temperature or a new cough that continues, and to only call 111 if your symptoms worsen, please follow this for your own family. This applies to our staff too and will be enforced if we have to send children home. Please do not come to Red Bus if you fall into this category, please call us.

There has been some discussion about the ‘high’ temperature of 37.8 being quoted by the Government. This poses some difficulties for you and I as carers as this is so close to a normal temperature and some children can normally run higher than others on average without being ill. When making a decision about your child, bear in mind that if they are well in every other way and very close to this temperature, use common sense or check with us if not sure.

Keep us updated testing positive
If you or a close person to you has been tested positive, please let us know.

Support each other
Please be mindful that we need to support each other in such difficult circumstances and work together to do the best we can. The frustrations that you will feel as this develops in terms of the effects on your life, work, holiday plans, finances etc are the same for every one of us in our own lives personally at Red Bus.

We feel this is the appropriate level of action at this point in time but are mindful this could change very quickly. We are monitoring any developments to the situation and will provide updates where necessary.

Please do not hesitate to contact Red Bus by email at a new central mailbox we have set up which is [email protected] and we will respond to you as quickly as we are able. I would encourage you to use this route if you have any questions but if you do need to speak to someone at the setting please refer to your Early Years Manager via the office. We will shortly be updating our website and we will issue new communications as appropriate.

Thank you for your support.

Best regards
Liz Hogarth
Managing Director/Owner