Nearly a third of nurseries close at least once due to self-isolation
Although regulated childcare settings have now been back open for more than a year, the effects of the pandemic have still been acutely felt throughout that time. In addition to low occupation, staff anxiety, and uncertainty about the future, many found themselves having to close again due to instances of self-isolation. This so-called ‘pingdemic’ in which those who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 can be notified by the NHS Covid-19 app to isolate has hit businesses hard, reducing staff numbers to a bare minimum and sometimes below.
In a regulated setting, with staff:child ratios to consider, carrying on operating with a skeleton crew is not an option. As a result, it is probably not a surprise that according to an Early Years Alliance survey of 1,000 nurseries, nearly a third have had to fully shut at least once, and 40% have had to at least partially close.
This of course has other repercussions, as settings that have closed due to staff isolating cannot now look after their children, meaning that parents are forced to take time off work too. In some cases, these parents may be key workers who were able to secure childcare throughout the previous lockdowns, but now find themselves without options.
In response to the wave of isolations putting pressure on businesses, the Department for Health and Social Care updated the ‘logic’ behind the NHS Covid-19 App’s workings to reduce its sensitivity. It now only looks back two days before someone asymptomatic tests positive, rather than the previous five. As a result, the number of ‘pings’ has reportedly dropped by 40%.