PLEASE DONATE – Urgent need for staff tests
The Government has announced testing for COVID-19 for all companies with more than 50 employees. London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) has a duty of care to all our frontline staff so we are already paying for weekly Rapid Lateral Flow Antigen tests for every member of staff in our nurseries. We plan to keep paying for tests until we can be sure that the Government is stepping in. We have enough tests to last until the third week in February.
We want to keep testing until the end of March when hopefully the vaccine will be protecting more people. This will cost another £23,000 and we urgently need your help.
It costs £8 per test a week to test a nursery teacher on a Monday before their shift starts. Please donate, any contributions are welcome however small. Your support is invaluable in helping us keep our nurseries free from COVID-19.
Many of our nurseries have been operating since last March to meet the requests from the Government to support families to work but especially those key workers and children in a vulnerable situation. It’s imperative we test staff every week before they start their first shift to check for COVID-19 so we can manage staff deployment in order to keep the services open. Right now, nursery staff are the second most affected group after supermarket workers.
We want to keep our staff safe
LEYF runs 39 charitable social enterprise nurseries across London, we value our staff and appreciate their bravery in supporting the national effort. However, we fear for their welfare and safety every day. Since December, one in 10 of staff have been diagnosed with COVID. That is 86 staff, of whom six ended up in hospital and one is in a severe situation requiring an induced coma for six weeks.
Staff in the Early Years (especially in London) are from a variety of ages and backgrounds. In the case of LEYF, the average age is 36 and 20% are over the age of 50. Furthermore, half of our staff are BAME and so, in effect, they represent all the challenges of the broader population.
Putting them in a high-risk environment without access to testing and no promise of the vaccine is a cocktail of disaster. Right now, staff working with our youngest citizens are at higher risk of getting COVID as social distancing is not possible with this age group. We are experiencing low morale along with increased stress and anxiety. We also risk the bigger problem of not being able to continue to deliver childcare due to high staff sickness across our room bubbles.
Accessing a testing centre through the NHS programme is not a viable option as their opening hours don’t fit with the nursery plus many sites are not accessible. It’s also important that we reduce travelling for the staff to mitigate cross infection as many already use public transport. If you can offer asymptomatic testing in schools, colleges, maintained nursery schools and primary schools with attached Early Years settings, then why not independent nurseries?