Councils demand powers to shut nurseries with COVID-19 clusters

Town hall leaders have called for the power to close nurseries and schools if testing indicates clusters of new COVID-19 cases.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said there are concerns about how schools and nurseries will be able to impose strict social distancing measures, particularly with younger and more vulnerable children.

It wants local flexibility to allow some schools to take their own decisions about reopening – in consultation with their councils.

For example, in communities where there is higher risk, such as those with a high proportion of Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents.

The government issued guidance earlier this week, which states that subject to conditions, schools, colleges and nurseries can begin to prepare to open to more young people from 1 June.

The revised guidance from the Department for Education states that paid childcare can now be provided to children from just one other household, providing it is in line with guidelines around minimising the risk of infection.

The chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), Liz Bayram, said the new guidance makes it clear that childminders can ‘start to build up their businesses now in advance of fully opening on 1 June if they want to’.

The chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, Cllr Judith Blake said the safety of staff, parents and families is ‘absolutely paramount’.

‘We know parents are anxious about sending their children back to school or nursery,’ said Cllr Blake.

‘Plans to re-open schools and early years settings must focus on reassuring parents that it will be safe for children to return to school. Publication of the scientific advice is vital to help provide that reassurance,’ she added.

‘Councils need to be able to close provision where testing indicates clusters of new COVID-19 cases and it is vital that schools have the resources to provide staff with necessary protective equipment, as well as soap and hand sanitizer for cleaning.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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