Nursery Manager’s Blog – 10 February 2021
This time last year, I remember hearing the news of a new virus spreading and having no idea that this would result in a global pandemic.
Rumours circulated that the Government would be closing schools and nurseries and I remember thinking ‘surely not, we never close.’ I imagine that others working within the early years sector would have been thinking similarly.
However, it was announced that on Friday 20 March 2020 schools and nurseries must close their doors to families who did not fall under the key worker or vulnerable category. This is a date I will always remember.
As I pressed send on the email to the parents at my setting, my eyes filled up. I thought about all my families who would be impacted, all of our children starting school and who we would not be able to say goodbye to and all of those children we were going to miss as even though they are not our own, we care for each one as though they are.
It was very strange working throughout the first lockdown. After working within early years for over 15 years, for the first time I heard a noise that was unfamiliar to me. Silence. Although, it was an eerie experience, I am so proud that we were able to keep our setting open to offer the care and education to children of our families that needed it.
Then in June, we were able to reopen our doors to all of our families and I felt nervous excitement on the days leading up to this date. It was important to carefully plan for the children to return in stages to ensure that we had enough time to spend with every child and settle them back into nursery.
As I opened the doors on that Monday morning and began to welcome the children that we hadn’t seen for almost three months, my team and I were ready with cuddles for any tearful children. However, the children showed just how resilient they are, as every single one of them returned with a smile on their face, eager to see their friends and teachers. Much to our disappointment, our hugs were not needed!
It was such a pleasant sight to see the children interacting with each other in their ‘bubbles’ and to hear their giggles filling the Nursery once again. The stories they told us were very welcomed and had us in giggles too. The noise and atmosphere I was so familiar with had returned. I really am so lucky to get to experience this on a daily basis.
Although we have many measures in place to ensure the safety of the children, staff and parents, when we arrive at The Nursery it is sometimes easy for us to forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic. You see, we cannot wear PPE to protect ourselves. We cannot teach babies and young children language development wearing a mask as they wouldn’t see how our mouths form the sounds. We are unable to remain two meters away from the children when they need comfort because they have fallen over or just need our reassurances. For us, we try our hardest to maintain some normality for the children whilst following the guidelines that are in place.
We now find ourselves in a third lockdown. However, this one is a little different to the others. This time, schools are closed, and nurseries are able to remain open and I am aware of the debate that this has sparked.
I understand the anger that some Early Years Practitioners feel as they have to travel for miles to receive the testing that they are entitled too and the frustration that we are not higher up in the hierarchy for vaccination. I agree with these points. I feel that all early year’s settings should be provided with home testing kits and we should be entitled to the vaccine at the same time that this is offered to teachers.
However, I do understand why we are open. I understand the importance of a child’s early development and how this lays the foundation for their future learning. It is impossible for us to remote teach our children and it would be extremely difficult for our parents to continue to work whilst caring for a baby or young child.
I am grateful that I can continue to provide quality care and education for the children at my setting. My team and I, of course, have our worries about bringing the virus home to our families and throughout this, my team have amazed me as they have left their worries at the door and continued to come to work every single day with a smile on their faces. We have adapted our practice to be creative with how we provide activities for children when we cannot use certain materials.
You may be thinking, why do we do this? Why do we put ourselves at risk every day? It’s simple really, we do this for the children. When you work in the early years sector, your passion to make a difference to children overrides your worries and concerns if only for your shift. When I look at my team and see the happiness, engagement and stimulation they provide to the children each day, I genuinely burst with pride. We will continue, until we are told not to, to provide this environment for all of our children because it is what we do and love.