Early years care providers want staff prioritised for vaccine
- Credit: Freepix.com
Owners of preschools and nurseries in North Somerset are calling for staff to be vaccinated as a high priority as they remain open during the third lockdown.
The Government told early years providers to remain open, while schools are closed; and staff say they want the same support as key workers in care homes, who do the same job, with people at the other end of the age spectrum.
Scientists say younger children carry a lower risk of transmission than adolescents.
However, there are no requirements for social distancing in early years settings, due to the age of children.
Lee-Anne Lovegrove, who owns Daisychain childcare, in Weston, said: "We need to feel safe. We cannot socially distance from children and we’re told not to wear masks because it can scare the children and can affect their learning; it is important that young children can see our faces as they learn from facial expressions and how words are formed from watching as well as listening to adults.
"Early years staff are working tirelessly to keep children safe and those parents who rely on us need nurseries to be open so they can work, therefore we need the vaccine, too”
Financial concerns have also put a lot of pressure on many early years providers; with some worried they would be forced to close permanently when they were told funding would be withdrawn for places where children were kept home by parents who were concerned about their child being exposed to Covid.
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However, North Somerset Council has agreed to temporarily fund these places, which will be reviewed again in February 15, when lockdown restrictions are assessed.
Owner of Mendip House Nursery and Preschool, Anna Latham, had started turning people away who were looking to book new places; with concerns she would not be able to afford to remain open.
She said: “I can breathe for four to five weeks, until it’s reviewed again; and I can assure parents their children’s places can be kept. North Somerset has been excellent, fighting really hard for providers.
“People have lost a lot of sleep; the council needs to continue its support and also provide us with a vaccine as a priority.”