Sharing our experiences of Covid 19 in EYFS

I was so scared. At the beginning the social distancing guidelines were misunderstood in our setting and management suggested that if the school was closed we could all come in and hang displays and tidy cupboards. As some of  the lowest status staff we usually do exactly what we are told. But I unexpectedly found my voice in front of everyone at a staff meeting. Perhaps this was a result of suddenly being recognised as a “key worker’. The words came tripping out before I could stop them; although I was willing to help with essential work I would not be taking a risk by doing any non essential work, and that I would be following the WHO guidelines which I believed trumped theirs. It didn’t even sound like me, I don’t usually feel able to speak up, but as the virus grows, so has my confidence.  Management took on board what I said and have worked out systems to reduce the risk of our exposure, such as rotas with the same team working together every seven days.

Another problem at the beginning was checking if parents really were key workers who had no other parent to provide care. Now the school is much more careful and requires proof, which has brought our numbers down which in turn means we can stretch our rota so that we only work every 14 days and allows us to increase the hours of childcare on offer.   However, there are still issues that could be worked out if providers worked together, for example we were providing care for three children because their mum was a T.A in another school. It is a childcare loop: in order to have one T.A in one school another school potentially exposes three children to the virus. However, I suspect the academy system means that the connections between local schools aren’t as strong as they used to be.

So unfortunately the way our school has tried to close the loop it is to say that we will provide childcare for our own staff members. One of our staff members has a 2 year old and a 3 year old. So in order to have her we have to look after another two (small) children. I feel that this is not fair especially as the children cannot give their consent to this possible exposure.

I feel like I can’t keep complaining but in my experience management are finding it hard to step away from the mantra that school is the best place for children. Unfortunately that no longer seems to be the case.  Even our children that are vulnerable are at risk at school. I can see there are no easy answers. I just wish we and social services could do home visits. There are families who could really benefit from a friendly and supportive home visit.

Now we are taking turns to look after a child with brain injuries which usually makes his behaviour hard work for us all and especially for his fantastic adoptive parents. It is respite care and it feels like essential work so I am happy to do it.  He is 9 so usually has to sit in a mainstream classroom. I took him down to the empty reception classroom and played all week with him and managed to get some great learning in. In the middle of all this upheaval it struck us all how much calmer he was and how positively he responded to the EYFS curriculum than to the mainstream programme school usually struggles to deliver. I will dig deep and find more confidence to speak up about this.  Maybe the glimmer of hope in this horrible situation is that, for that one little boy, we have found what works.

2 thoughts on “Sharing our experiences of Covid 19 in EYFS

  1. This is such a powerful story on so many levels. Given the age and stage of the children we work with, its easy for others to forget that the people who know their interests best are the children themselves and that they have a right to be heard in situations that concern them.

    I’m so glad you have found your voice and been able to speak up for yourself, your colleagues and the children in your care. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you so much for this very honest and candid blog which discusses some of the many challenges of providing support for children and their families. This is an evolving situation and I imagine that things issues emerge on a daily/ maybe minute by minute basis.

    It is great to see how you feel that you have ‘found a voice’ during this situation. That maybe because you feel that your status in the setting has increased due to the term key worker but I would suggest that it is more to do with your growing confidence as a student and passion to do the right thing for the staff, families and children concerned.
    Keep on fighting – the profession needs those who are prepared to shout out for what is right and ethical.

    You go onto discuss how ethical issues have evolved during these days and I suspect that all practitioners face these. I was so impressed by your willingness to listen to the voice of the child and to acknowledge the importance of this.

    Your last paragraph that discussed how you are working with one particular child was so heart warming. We are beginning to see that through this nightmare new shoots are emerging which may well change practice in the future. Please continue to nurture these new shoots and to keep on speaking up for the needs of the children and families in your care.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Leave a Reply

We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.