Early Years Update 4.2.21
Email dated 04.02.2021
We hope this finds you safe and well, although we acknowledge that it remains a very challenging time for the sector. Please continue to take care.
Lateral Flow (rapid) testing
We have received many enquiries following our communication about the availability of lateral flow testing for Early Years and Childcare through the community mass testing programme. Key issues being raised include: the geographical challenge of accessing only one testing site, the logistical and affordability issues relating to staff release; that travelling before and after work hours presents a significant challenge and that home testing would be the best solution. We anticipated some of these responses and we recognise that the current model of operation is far from ideal for group providers and childminders.
The current model has been determined by central government, but please be assured that we are feeding your comments back directly and urgently to both our local Public Health partners and DfE regional representatives. We are aware that there is a strong national response to this issue, as expressed through Early Years and Childcare national associations and union events, and we will continue to work on your behalf and to make your voices heard.
In the meantime the current model applies, and where possible we hope you can access the community mass testing programme to provide an additional layer of safety for yourselves and your teams.
Prioritisation of vaccinations
Several providers are also asking about prioritisation of vaccines for the Early Years and Childcare workforce and we continue to make your views known to partners and higher authorities. Again, this is a national issue and we continue to lobby on your behalf to promote greater recognition for the need for workforce safety and protection at this time.
We are sure you will have seen recent news about cases of a mutated form of the COVID-19 variant, first found in Kent, being detected in Bristol, that may be concerning you and your community. We have attached a statement from Christina Gray, Bristol’s Director of Public Health for your information.
We understand Public Health England and the Department for Health and Social Care, along with local public health teams, will begin to plan for extra testing in the area. We are being kept updated on the arrangements and we will let you know if there are any specific implications for your provision. As it currently stands, there are no adaptations required to the guidance or your risk assessment arrangements, but again, we will be in touch if this position changes.
We further attach flyers relating to staff wellbeing webinars, available to all Early Years and Childcare practitioners, and the latest Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership update.
With best wishes,
The Early Years Team