On 15 June the Scottish Government published guidance on how local authority nurseries are to operate from August 2020 whilst we move through phases of its route map out of lockdown from COVID-19.
The Care Inspectorate and Public Health Scotland have also updated their guidance to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place to protect children, families and staff.
This information has been developed to tell you how it affects early years and childcare provision in East Lothian.
Children will attend two full days each week in local authority settings
From August, local authority nursery places will be offered over two full days with attendance on either Monday/ Tuesday or Wednesday/ Thursday. Full-day attendance will allow us to have the appropriate cleaning regimes in place that will ensure high levels of hygiene and reduce the risk of transmission of the virus. This will be a phased approach and we will work towards offering up to 600hrs of early learning and childcare for age-eligible children. It also means that we will have fewer places available in our own settings. Funded providers will have their own attendance and capacity arrangements.
Whilst the Scottish Government has announced that schools may be returning full-time, at this time, the guidance issued by the Scottish Government on the 15 June is the current guidance to be followed.
‘One setting model’ for local authority settings
The Scottish Government has advised against the use of a blended model of childcare – this affects families who hoped to combine hours in a local authority setting alongside hours in a funded provider. This is to minimize the risk of virus transmission between settings. This means that you should choose one setting which you wish your child to attend for their early years’ placement.
Our funded providers, including childminders, have been working alongside us on their own arrangements. Day Nurseries and Community Playgroups who are funded providers are working to reopen from 15 July. Each provider will have their own timescales for reopening, capacity and admissions arrangements. They will be contacting their families directly with this information. We continue to work together to put in place safe arrangements that will support our children and families.
As you know, the statutory implementation of 1140hrs by August 2020 was postponed nationally and the Scottish Government is now reviewing the timescale. We are currently unable to continue to offer 1140 hours of early learning and childcare in council settings – including those who previously offered this option.
Funded providers may still be able to offer 1140 funded hours to age-eligible children and will be able to advise you on places they have available.
We are committed to keeping this matter under review and working towards 1140 hours once restrictions are lifted and it is safe for us to do so.
Next steps: communication
We will write to you over the summer break to confirm whether we have been able to offer a place at your chosen nursery, including information on what will happen next. If we are unable to offer you a place in your chosen nursery we will provide further details to you.
There have been a number of changes introduced since we opened our enrolment process and we have worked hard to understand what is required of us to operate within the new guidance. We know that these arrangements will not suit every family and may be disappointing to you. The health and safety of children and families is of paramount importance. We will continue to review national guidance as soon as we receive it, develop our services and keep you informed.