But unlike schools, crèches are largely private businesses facing significant financial pressures.
Many had to remain open for the children of key workers in March soon closed, insisting that it was simply not financially viable.
Government guidelines have recognized that demand for child care will likely be lower than usual at first, indicating that existing space requirements and the existing staff / child ratio should allow for small group work.
He said: “When the physical configuration of a setting does not allow small groups of children to be kept at a safe distance, we expect practitioners to use their judgment to ensure that the safety standards are maintained. higher.
“In some cases, it may be necessary for providers to introduce a temporary cap on numbers to ensure safety is a priority.”
He acknowledged that social distancing was almost impossible to maintain with preschoolers, but offered little guidance on how these environments should work.
They may need to reconfigure their spaces to allow smaller groups or to stay open longer to allow meal times to be staggered.
Leitch said, “The guidelines are much less rigid than expected. Many providers will appreciate being able to use their own initiative and professional judgment to get things done without too much interference.
“But they will also need to know how many employees bring back those who have been on leave and how they will cover their costs.”
Purnima Tanuku, Executive Director of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said, “I have reiterated the need to support early childhood facilities both in practical and financial terms – especially as the demand places should be lower at the start.
“Providers and parents will need to have confidence in the reopening, so the safety of kindergarten children and staff must be paramount in any plan to alleviate foreclosure conditions.”
As leaders of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies rejected the new slogan “stay alert” and said they would stick to the “stay at home” message, Tanuku also highlighted the potential problems for families living in Welsh or Scottish borders who could live on one side and work on the other.
The EYA warned that “abandoning” the child care sector at this time would cause “untold damage” to the economy.
One in four child care providers warned that it would be bankrupt within a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
An EYA investigation found that almost three in four crèches, nursery schools and childminders believe that the government did not provide them with enough support during the coronavirus crisis.