Nurseries Covid concern: Dr Kate Hardy in The Guardian
Dr Kate Hardy featured in an article for The Guardian on 11 January 2021, highlighting the safety concern of nurseries remaining open in England despite rising Covid-19 infections.
The Guardian article discusses the risk of financial ruin of private nurseries across England and the health risk to early years staff as they remain open during the third national lockdown.
While schools are closed to lower the rate of transmission between students and staff, the government maintains that nurseries carry less risk, citing that ‘[the] youngest children have the lowest level of contact with others outside their households, and so long as settings follow systems of controls the risk of transmission is low.’ However, as many parents are opting to keep their children at home and many families self-isolating, nurseries are losing fees and struggling to pay for fixed costs such as rent and staff salaries.
Associate Professor Kate Hardy highlighted the safety concerns of early years and childcare workers, who, given the nature of their work, and the young age of the children, cannot practice or enforce social distancing. She commented:
“In no other industry – other than perhaps sex work – are workers required to intimately deal with the bodily fluids of others without PPE.”
If nurseries and early years stay open, the abject failures of the government will be paid for with the lives and health of some of our most essential women workers. The sector may well face the devastation inflicted on care home staff during the first wave.