Nearly one in 10 nursery and pre-school staff have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two months, according to a new survey.
The survey, which was conducted jointly by the Early Years Alliance and independent sector analysts Ceeda also found half of staff say they don’t feel safe in their current early years working environment.
According to the survey, 9% nursery and pre-school staff and 8% of childminders have tested positive for Covid-19 since 1 December.
And nearly two-thirds (63%) of nurseries and pre-schools say that there is a moderate to high risk that their whole setting may
need to temporarily close in coming weeks due to staff shortages brought about by Covid-19.
It also found that around nine in 10 early years practitioners (94% of nursery and pre-school staff and 87% of childminders) believe that the early years workforce should be prioritised in the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
In addition, early years occupancy levels are currently 58% in nursery and pre-schools compared to 86% in January 2020, and 54% in childminding settings compared to 92% in January 2020.
And half (51%) of nurseries and pre-schools and 35% of childminders expect to be operating at a loss at the end of the spring term based on current levels of government support.
‘With Covid rates among early years practitioners so high, it is no wonder that so many in the sector don’t currently feel safe going into work every day,’ said Alliance chief executive, Neil Leitch.
‘We know that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have worked incredibly hard to ensure that they offer a safe environment for those children still accessing care and education – but someone needs to be doing the same for them, and so far, the government has failed to do so.
‘It is clear from these findings that the government must, as a matter of absolute urgency, roll out regular lateral flow testing directly to all early years providers, and ensure that the early years workforce is given priority access to vaccinations in Phase 2 of the roll-out. Anything less would be reckless and irresponsible – it is simply not acceptable to ask the sector to work during the most worrying period of the pandemic to date, and not provide the practical support they need to be able to do so safely.’
Photo Credit – Geralt (Pixabay)