No playdough, sandpits, or water games, but plenty of cuddles and outdoor play in smaller groups, and NO floor markings, face masks or timed toilet breaks. That’s the life after lockdown plan for the UK’s biggest childcare provider, which has already reopened nurseries in countries first affected by Covid-19, including Singapore and Malaysia, and over 300 centres across England
Busy Bees, which has three centres in Wales, has confirmed that its health and safety plans for its Welsh nurseries won’t require children to play in hoops and bubbles as some schools have suggested.
Instead, it will focus on dividing children into small groups, limiting the number of people children come into contact with, reducing the space that children can explore and increasing the time spent outdoors.
All children will have their temperature checked upon arrival, with family members waiting two metres apart at drop off and pick up. Regular temperature checks for both children and team members will continue throughout the day, as will frequent handwashing and disinfecting of communal areas.
Crucially, the childcare provider will keep life as close to normal for children, with team members instructed only to wear face masks for temperature checks and to cuddle children if they become upset during the day.
The nursery provider, which has kept over 100 of its centres open throughout the crisis to support key worker and vulnerable children, and hasn’t seen a single child contract the virus, has looked to its colleagues in south-east Asia for learning, and is confident its measures will be enough to protect families in its care.
Emily Brimson-Keight, head of safety at Busy Bees, said: “There has been much speculation about how life after lockdown will look in nurseries and schools, and parents are understandably very anxious. The biggest priority for us is, and always will be, the safety and happiness of the children in our care. That’s why we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to open the centres since they first went into lockdown, and we have successfully reopened almost all our centres across England in the last few weeks. We are constantly sharing ideas and looking at best practice to ensure the personal and emotional wellbeing for children and team members as they begin to return.
“We’re committed to providing the best start in life for children, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in. Now the lockdown is being relaxed, we’re keen to offer assurance and debunk the myths about the new normal for parents at such a stressful time, and we are confident our plans ensure the safety and crucially, the development and happiness of children when we welcome them back.”
As part of its plans for life after lockdown, Busy Bees is also proposing a ‘school readiness fast track’ programme, whereby all children starting school in September are allowed to remain at nursery for one or two terms, depending on their age or developmental stage. The programme would ensure that the valuable time that has been missed on preparing children for school is made up to ensure that children are not disadvantaged.
The programme would also give schools a full term to help pupils already attending school to catch up with any missed learning whilst practicing safe social distancing, in an environment familiar to the child amidst the disruption.
Busy Bees has three centres in Wales, in Bridgend, Cardiff and Deeside, all of which will be re-opening on 29 June.