Things to Consider: Covid-19 and Your Childcare Club
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Please note that the number of the Covid-19 helpline is 0800 046 8687 and should be contacted if you have any further questions.
The Covid-19 virus is all over the news and everybody has been discussing it in recent weeks. Unfortunately, it seems like it won’t be going away anytime soon, and a lot of questions have been raised about the virus, many of which remain unanswered. In this blog, we’ll address the repeated questions that child-care professionals have raised on social media and provide answers where we can.
For the time being the Government is insisting that schools remain open. But with the virus spreading and other countries going into lockdown, it is unclear for how long this will remain official policy. Whilst schools must follow the lead of the government, privately run childcare clubs do not and can, therefore, shut if they believe this to be a necessary health measure. However, private clubs rely on profit to operate and therefore temporarily closing is the hardest decision to make, as it could result in them losing their business.
Over the last couple of days, there have been many questions raised by childcare club workers about the pandemic. With that in mind, we have created this short guide to try and help childcare club managers decide the best course of action.
1. Should I temporarily shut the club for health reasons?
This is the most frequent question being asked by club-managers and the answer varies depending on which country you are in. Whilst the rest of Europe and America is going into lockdown, the UK has continued to operate as normal.
Currently, you do not have to shut down your club because of the Covid-19 outbreak, even if a member of staff or child has been diagnosed with the infection. If a child or member of staff at your club is diagnosed with Covid-19, the current government advice is for that individual to self-isolate to stop it spreading.
However, there are things that your club is expected to do. For example, if a child or member of staff at your club is diagnosed with Covid-19 then you must contact Public Health England who will advise you on the steps to take.
There are also steps and precautions which the staff and children at your club are expected to do. For example, the staff and children of your club have to self-isolate for 14 days if they have returned from one of the following areas (even if they don’t show any symptoms):
- Wuhan city and Hubei Province, China
- Daegu, Gyeongsan or Cheongdo in South Korea
Furthermore, children cannot be picked up or dropped off from our club by anybody who has recently returned from one of these areas:
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Korea
2. Self-isolating, what is it and when should I do it?
The term self-isolating has been used a lot recently and people have been reacting to it in very different ways. To self-isolate, you must stay at home and minimize contact with others. Stay at least 2 meters from other people during self-isolation, don’t leave the house and regularly wash your hands with soap. It seems like the global response to Covid-19 has been to go out and buy the entire stock of toilet roll from your local supermarket. However, official advice from the government has been to self-isolate for 7 days if you show any symptoms of Covid-19, so buying toilet roll in bulk seems like an extreme reaction. Click here to access further information about self-isolating. Please be aware that if staff members or children are displaying symptoms, then it is very important that they self-isolate for at least 7 days.
3. Can I afford to temporarily shut the club?
At the time of writing, private child-care clubs have no obligation to close. However, as Covid-19 spreads and more people self-isolate, parents will no-doubt pull their children out of attending activities and therefore your attendances and cash-flow may take a significant hit. This should certainly be considered by all childcare clubs as it has been reported by the government that 80% of people in the UK are expected to contract the virus. It should also be noted that in the vast majority of cases, the infected individual will only display very mild symptoms lasting a short period of time.
Many childcare club workers have been asking about whether they should continue to charge parents in the event of a closure. The second question being frequently asked by childcare club workers is whether they should continue to pay their staff in the event of closure/staff needing to self-isolate.
Unfortunately, there is currently no clear answer to either of these questions. Different clubs have different policies regarding cancellations and therefore the answer to whether they should continue to charge parents depends on your club’s booking policy. The answer to the second question also depends on your employment conditions, however, the government has extended statutory sick pay to include those self-isolating. This will lighten the financial difficulties of both employers and employees in the event of staff needing to self-isolate. Click here to access further financial advice for employers and employees.
Covid-19 is going to get worse before it gets better and perhaps in the future the government will enforce school and club closures. However, the government are yet to do this and therefore childcare clubs have been left in a very confusing position. The health and safety of your staff and the children who attend your club should be your priority. Hopefully in the next few weeks things will become clearer but for now, there is no instruction to close operations.