Throughout the coronavirus lockdown, I have stayed open to two key-worker families. One of my parents is a nurse, the other works in a bank.
I have managed these job roles and age groups differently, depending on each circumstance. While the older child whose parent works in a bank is dropped by car we are both happy in the new routine – mum doesn’t come into the house and the child walks to the setting from the car, which us both watching.
With my parent who is a nurse we agreed a number of different precautions. She changes out of her uniform when she finishes work and before coming round to limit the spread of infection. She will go home and shower and put on clean clothes before picking up their child. Dad drops her off before going to work and because their little one is quite young he will come into the house. But to manage this contact, I ask them to hand sanitise and wash their hands a lot more regularly.
We are lucky to have a garden and have used it a lot. As it is summer and nice weather this has been a bonus, but we know that being outside can reduce the spread of any infection too, which helps.
While some settings I have seen have been staying away from activities such as cooking, we have really enjoyed doing this more with the older children in the setting. Together they have made lasagne and curry for dinner as well as making bread on a regular basis. We manage this by splitting up the ‘jobs’ and the utensils used. The older child has been reading recipes and measuring ingredients while the younger ones have their own bowl and ingredients to join in as well.
Arts and crafts has also been a key activity during this time. I’ve been teaching the younger child her sounds and she has been mark making using whiteboard and whiteboard markers. Whiteboards work really well because I can clean them after use and spray with disinfectant. We’ve also been doing a lot of reading but make sure that children are washing their hands before and after.
It goes without saying that I have of course been cleaning even more rigorously than before the outbreak, which has probably been the main change. Whenever the children arrive, they will put on ‘house shoes’ and are taken to wash their hands immediately. All worktops, tables, equipment and resources are disinfected regularly during the day.
For my setting, it really has just been about being more vigilant and making sure I have the right regulations and communication with parents in place to keep it safe.
For those thinking about re-opening I want to emphasise that while of course we adhere to government guidelines and make relevant changes to our practice, we also carry on as normal as much as possible, to reassure and support children’s mental health when in your own home. Not taking them to shops and when out making sure they social distance from others. More handwashing and cleaning, and being more vigilant.