Covid-19 occupational health and safety measures

Dear families,

It has been so good to welcome back the children after the lock down and see the children’s happy faces again.

After a normal 2-week summer or winter holiday, returning children can take a little time to settle-in again, so we were fully prepared to provide a lot of emotional support to the children for them returning after such a long closure. However, our plans were not necessary – the children have loved being back and seeing their friends and teachers again and have settled back into the routine very well!

We would like to say a massive public thank you to the team who helped prepare the nursery. This page intends to answer your questions regarding the school’s measures in dealing with Covid-19. We have reworked our daily routine in order to follow the latest guidelines and make sure we can receive both your children and our staff in the safest possible way. We will continually update our routine inline with the latest best practises.

1. Air filtration and virus-killer

At Mars Montessori and at Les Trois Oursons, we put in each classroom Swiss-made state-of-the-art air filtration, made by IQAIR. Their HyperHEPA filtration is tested and certified by an independent third-party lab to effectively filter 99.5% of harmful ultrafine pollution particles down to 0.003 microns in size. This is 100 times smaller than what is achieved with ordinary air filtration technology and 10 times smaller than a virus. 

We also installed Radic 8 virus killer air sterilisers & purifiers in both nurseries, 2 at Mars Montessori and 7 at Les Trois Oursons. These machines are used in medical facilities and dentist surgeries in South Korea and are becoming increasingly popular here too. They work by using powerful UV lights (8 UVC lamps internally per machine), which kills any viruses – hence their “Virus Killer” title.

2. Regular cleaning of settings

We have a deep clean every single evening, as well as regularly cleaning throughout the day.
We have organised for an additional cleaner to be present at the nursery to help with door handle, toy, toilet and other cleaning during the day. This is on top of the normal cleaning team which will perform a deep clean every single evening.
Toys will not mix. Each bubble will keep their own toys. These will be disinfected daily.
We have removed unnecessary items from classrooms and other learning environments where there is space to store it elsewhere.
We have removed soft furnishings, soft toys and toys that are hard to clean (such as those with intricate parts). We have stopped using materials such as sand.

3. Minimising contact and mixing- Social distancing

One of the protective measures we have taken to reduce transmission is to keep the children in groups that do not mix with other groups. We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to allow all children back to our nurseries, we took this into account.

  • Creation of separated groups “Bubbles”
    We will ensure that children and staff only mix in a small and consistent group (a “bubble”). We will ensure that children and staff only mix in a consistent group (a “bubble”). We have sized bubbles according to official guidelines which reflect the national covid alert levels. Currently, we can operate bubbles that incorporate a whole classroom. Each classroom is now treated as a single bubble meaning children and teachers do not mix with different classrooms. Note government guidance and the reality of early years premises mean that transient contact is allowed (e.g. passing through the same corridors) but it should be minimised as much as possible.
  • Parents help and support

    We would like to asking for a maximum of help and support with regards to the arrival and departure times. Parents waiting at arrival and collection times are to wait at a safe social distance from one another – please respects marks on the pavements to help keep a safe distance.
  • Social distancing outside nursery
    Each bubble is being treated as a large family. In line with social distancing, we strongly discourage children from attending any other setting if they attend Mars Montessori or Les Trois Oursons. If you do attend a second setting, please let us know immediately so that we can put in place safety precautions. Outside of the nursery, they should not mix with other children or adults, other than their parents, or if they are in a bubble with an adult from a single-person household. We ask all parents to practice safe social distancing outside of the nursery.
    We are encouraging our staff to avoid public transport, and also providing staff with face masks to use if they need to take public transport. We are rolling-out training on the safe usage of face masks to all our staff so they can get to work safely, and all our staff are taking additional training on infection control.
  • Outside play
    We take the children out to the playground for Mars Montessori, and to the park for Les Trois Oursons, in separate bubble groups. We take them outside as much as possible, as the outside air is great for them and reduces the chance of infection.
  • Visitors – extra curriculum activities
    We have reduced access to the nurseries to minimise contact to the external environment. Existing parents drop-off children at the entrance whilst social distancing and do not enter the nursery. We have reduced the number of visits by prospective parents also. Those visits that do occur follow safety guidelines whereby a prospective parent wears a face covering, gloves (if hands cannot be sanitised) and social distances during the visit. Equally we are not organising home visits and paused any extra curriculum activities with external practitioners. For new children starting at the nursery, only one parent is permitted to come inside (wearing protective equipment) to help the settling in.
  • Snack, Lunch and Tea
    At Mars Montessori, the chef is the only one allowed in the kitchen. At Les Trois Oursons, from 8am to 4.30pm, the chef, the cleaning lady (with full PPE) and the manager (with full PPE) are the only ones allowed in the kitchen.
    Children in each bubble will be served food and water by the adult at their table. The lions classroom children will continue to serve themselves (each child serves their own food and put their plate, cutleries and glass on the table themselves).
    All our staff are qualified in food hygiene and as before they will carry on applying safe procedures when serving the children.
    Birthday cake from home won’t be accepted.

4. Avoiding contact with anyone with symptoms

Should a child have temperature or any symptoms of Covid 19, we will isolate him/her. At Mars Montessori, we will isolate them in an allocated area in the corridor. At Les Trois Oursons, we isolate them at the entrance in the corner where we have a sofa.  The manager or when possible a member of staff from that group will stay with the child until parents/carers can arrive. The member of staff will wear PPE whilst waiting for the parents. At Les Trois Oursons, the manager will not be part of any of the Bubbles, and so cross-bubble infection risk is reduced.
Parents are requested to arrive as quickly as possible to help reduce the risk of contamination. We assume that most parents are working from home, however, so we assume this is possible for you.
Any child or member of staff who displays any symptoms will be asked to isolate for 10 days from the nursery, and in line with government advice, any person in the same household will have to isolate for 14 days. Government guidance on testing should be followed. If any child or member of staff tests positive for the virus, the entire bubble will self-isolate at home for 14 days.

5. Frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices

Public Health England (PHE) is clear that if early years settings, and crucially if they are also applying regular hand cleaning, hygiene and cleaning measures and handling potential cases of the virus as per the advice, then the risk of transmission will be lowered.
As before, we will ensure regular hand washing. Each bubble will wash their hands together on arrival. The toilet area will then be disinfected and cleaned before the children from the next bubble arrive.
The children and staff will wash their hands regularly throughout the day.
At Les trois oursons, we will open windows to ensure clean air throughout the day . We are looking at ways to keep external doors open (whilst keeping the premises safe and secure) to maximise clean air-flow.

6. Other measures

We have put in place various other measures to keep the nursery safe.

  • Buggies cannot be left at the nurseries
  • Handover information will be limited. Due to a severe shortage of staffing, we are not able to spend as much time during handover as we used to. We use the online app Blossom to share sleep and food information
  • Signing in and out is done by staff on behalf of parents
  • Staff and children are asked to wear indoor shoes. We can send you a link of possible places to buy these for your children
  • Face shields: our staff will be wearing transparent face shields

7. Shielding and clinically vulnerable children, staff or parents

Shielding advice for all adults and children was paused on 1 August 2020. This means that any children on the shielded patient list can return, as can those who have family members who are shielding.

We ask parents to continue to inform us of anyone that is clinically vulnerable.

The decision to reopen

As well as the risk assessment and the specific actions we are putting into place above, we are also taking the following factors into consideration as we decide to reopen:

  • We have a high degree of confidence that the severity of Covid-19 is lower in children than in adults
  • It is possible that young children are less susceptible to infection compared to adults. It is certain that young children are not more susceptible to infection compared to adults. A pulse survey of more than 70 small, medium and large nursery groups and member organisations, who cared for 3,339 children (of key workers, who are usually at higher risk) during the crisis showed only 3 confirmed cases and 2 team cases. This does not make a re-opening risk-free but it is encouraging
  • The Director of the Local Authority Public Health team advised us that there is evidence that people with no symptoms are less contagious than infected people with symptoms (who are excluded from the nursery)
  • There is no evidence to suggest that children are “super spreaders”, unlike the case for other diseases
  • Keeping children at home to reduce the risk of Covid-19 comes at a high price for the development and social development of children. Children benefit from mixing with other children and making friends