Changes to nursery and early years provision from 7 January

From 7 January 2021, all council-run nurseries will be closed to all but vulnerable children and children of critical workers. We appreciate this is very short notice and apologise for the inconvenience this is likely to cause.

The decision has been made to better protect staff, families and children and is consistent with the measures implemented by government for all schools.

We are seeing a rapid increase of Covid-19 cases across the city and a decision to close our nurseries has been taken to help reduce the spread of the disease.

We are very conscious of the impact of this decision, particularly for our most disadvantaged children and we are working to prioritise as many places as possible for these children.

We are committed to the full reopening of our nurseries as soon as possible.

Private and voluntary providers must make their own decisions about staying open to all children, based on their own current and robust risk assessments. We have full confidence in the Covid management measures taken since March, however the rapid escalation of Covid cases in the city is a significant factor and must be taken into account.

Councillor Hannah Clare, Chair of the Children Young People and Skills Committee says: “We understand the concerns of our staff regarding the rising infection rates in the city.

“As a result we have as a temporary measure decided to move our council-run nurseries to be only open to vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

“No one wants to be in a position where our nurseries aren’t fully open. However, to make our community safe, we have taken action.

“Private and voluntary providers can make their own decisions. We know that some in the city have already taken a similar position. However this comes at a financial cost to those providers. 

“As a result, Councillor Allcock and I have written to government to urge them to compensate early years providers, similar to how they did last year.”

Opposition Spokesperson for Children, Young People & Skills Committee, Labour Councillor John Allcock added:

“The situation that we face is unparalleled, and the lives of children and staff and the wider community including parents, grandparents and carers remains our utmost priority.

“We know nurseries closing temporarily will be difficult for parents, however with Covid cases rising, it’s essential that we take steps to keep everybody safe.

“We hope the government responds positively to our joint request to support early years providers who make a vital contribution to the education and wellbeing of children.”

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