Early years services remain open throughout England
Early years services remain open throughout England

Are nurseries staying open during lockdown?

Primary and secondary schools have closed, but what are the rules for nurseries?

Joanna Whitehead
Tuesday 05 January 2021 10:07

Boris Johnson has set out new emergency lockdown measures in England to control the spread of coronavirus amid concerns the NHS risks being overwhelmed.

In a Downing Street briefing on Monday night, the prime minister announced new lockdown measures for England that are expected to remain in place until mid-February.

“You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law, such as to shop for essentials, to work if you absolutely cannot work from home, to exercise, to seek medical assistance such as getting a Covid test, or to escape domestic abuse.”

But what does this mean for nurseries and early year care?

Here’s everything you need to know.

Will nurseries remain open during lockdown?

Early years settings such as nurseries, alternative provision and special schools will remain open in England during the second lockdown.

Vulnerable children and children of key workers can continue to use registered childcare, child-minders and other childcare activities.

What are nursery providers saying about the government’s decision to keep them open?

The NDNA has called on the government to prioritise vaccinations for early year staff

The National Day Nurseries Association’s (NDNA) chief executive Purnima Tanuku said that nurseries and childcare providers were being put into “an intolerable position by the government” by being told to stay open while schools close.

“This is causing real fear for staff, parents and providers," she said.

“It is shocking that early years are being ignored again in this debate despite the fact that the sector has worked like a fourth emergency service throughout."

Ms Tanuku urged the government to engage with the sector on issues of safety for both staff and children.

She said: “Nurseries have worked tirelessly to put in place safety measures to minimise the spread of the virus and make their settings as safe as possible for staff and children at their own cost.

“The government must prioritise vaccinations for early years staff.

“Everyone knows it is impossible to socially distance from a toddler or a baby," she said.

What are the rules in Scotland?

Similarly to primary and secondary schools, nurseries will remain closed to most pupils in Scotland until February.

What are the rules in Wales?

Schools and colleges are closed in Wales until 18 January

Schools and colleges across Wales have moved to online learning until 18 January.

The Welsh government had previously enabled schools to have flexibility over when students would return to schools.

Check your local provider for more information about specific services.

What are the rules in Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland is in the second week of a six-week national lockdown.

Nurseries and special schools remain open during this period, however.

Teaching officials have raised questions as to why early years services and special schools in Northern Ireland are being treated differently to the rest of the education sector.

Will primary and secondary schools in England remain open?

From Tuesday, all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England moved to remote learning, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

In a statement, the government said: “While children are still very unlikely to be severely affected by Covid-19, the government recognises that schools must be included in the restrictions in order to have the best chance of getting the virus under control as schools can act as vectors of transmission, causing the virus to spread between households when rates are high.”

Schools will be required to provide remote education for those learning at home.

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