PARENTS fear nurseries could SHUT as the number of Covid cases hits an all-time high – with a 38 per cent rise in just one WEEK.
Working mums and dads could be left scrambling for last-minute childcare for their under-5s if all early years teachers return to remote learning.
Parents fear nurseries could SHUT as Covid-19 cases hit an all-time high (file image)[/caption]
Worrying figures show a total of 1,403 childcare or early-years settings – such as nurseries or childminders – reported at least one Covid case in the week of November 8.
One week later, the number rose to a massive 1,960 country-wide.
Then, between November 15 and November 22, the number of settings with positive cases leapt to 2,707 – an increase of 38 per cent.
The data does not break down the number of cases in each childcare setting, meaning any number of kids could have tested positive in each school.
The increase has been noted by terrified parents who could face juggling working from home while looking after young kids all over again.
Concerned parent Loreli took to Twitter to write: “I need help due to a disability and now my help is out if action due to being tested for Covid.
“If Bea gets sent home from nursery then we can’t work. It’s just madness.”
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Mum Rachel Holloway added: “Both my children are off school and nursery with Covid.
“Twenty-five staff off at my school, many with Covid or children with Covid.
“Nothing being done to protect those schools. Exhaustingly familiar tale.”
Some parents are calling on nurseries to close to keep kids’ safe.
Jeet wrote: “We had to cancel my sons settling in day at nursery till January due to a Covid infection in one of the babies there.
“Baby caught from a sibling at nearby school. This is dangerous, stop being reactive. I implore you to close schools.”
The rise in Covid cases in nurseries have rung alarm bells with many organisations, including the childcare charity National Day Nurseries Association.
Jonathan Broadbery, director of policy and communications, told Nursery World: “These are now the highest rates we have seen since reporting began in September 2020.
“These cases have a massively disruptive influence on children’s experiences in early education settings when they have already missed out on so many experiences.
“Nurseries are doing all they can to keep children and staff safe.
“But we are hearing about many more cases with staff becoming ill and children having to stay away, resulting in more lost learning.”
Early Years Alliance, another educational charity with 14,000 members in England, also expressed concern.
Neil Leitch, the chief executive, told the same site that sharply rising cases over just one week are “extremely worrying” and would likely “create huge fear and anxiety for the early years work force”.
He said nursery staff “cannot socially distance from either the children in their care or their colleagues” and owners and managers “once again face a loss of income and rising staffing shortages.
“Early years educators have put themselves at risk throughout the pandemic to ensure young children get the care and education they need, and that parents can continue to go out to work,” he added.
“With early years settings clearly at risk, the Government must now, as a priority, look to put in place additional measures to protect early years staff and their families.”
It comes amid reports that dozens of schools have already shut for Christmas over Covid cases – with experts fearing that closures could last weeks into January.
It comes as Downing Street last night insisted that keeping schools open was a “national priority” and they should be the last to shut.
But as cases soar across the country several schools have had no option but to close their doors.
Mr Barton told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “Listening to the speculation and the news, and certainly the emails I’ve been getting from members, you are getting some pockets of very severe low attendance, partly young people, partly staff.
“One (school) has emailed me this morning saying 25% of staff have been off for three weeks, you can imagine if you can’t then get supply teachers that becomes very difficult to maintain the quality of education.
He added: “These decisions are not being made by a headteacher.
“It’s not someone saying ‘we’re going to close the school because Christmas can come early’ – this was public health advice.
“There is a national narrative, quite rightly, that we should be keeping children in school but in some areas public health are saying ‘we are recommending that young people should move to remote learning’ so we are seeing a pretty mixed picture there.”
It is thought some schools could be closed throughout January[/caption]