Wiltshire Publications

Local pre-school’s petition demands access to vaccines for staff

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A WESTBURY pre-school has launched a petition calling for all nursery and pre-school staff in Wiltshire to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Staff at Cygnets Pre-School, which has two pre-schools in Westbury and Bratton, say that the Early Years sector needs “more recognition” for its work on the frontline and should be considered as part of the vaccination roll-out.

Manager of Cygnets Pre-School, Emma Osmond,  told White Horse News.“We are fully aware and understand that the programme has been evaluated and rolled out this way to aid in the prevention of high rates of mortality, but the risk my staff teams are facing is immense. They attend every day, placing themselves on the frontline to support all our families and ultimately the children, without question.

“We therefore ask in return that we be vaccinated to be able to do this with the confidence of being safer from the virus and its effects.”

So far, the pre-school’s petition, which asks Wiltshire Council to request Covid vaccines for all nursery and pre-school staff in the county, has over 700 supporters – with over 600 people pledging their support in the first three days.

Whilst schools across England closed their doors to most pupils for the current national lockdown, most early years settings have remained open – and Cygnets has remained open through all national locations.

And whilst schools have been given access to rapid testing kits (lateral flow tests), Cygnets has highlighted that they and other early years settings have been given none.

And as reported in the White Horse News last month, other local nurseries and pre-schools have echoed the same concerns about vaccines and tests.

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (Pacey), Early Years Alliance (EYA) and National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) have also raised concern, stating that they want staff in nurseries and pre-schools to be given priority to receive the vaccine, and for mass testing in early years settings.

Emma Osmond added, “We recognise the importance of continuing to provide a service within the community, especially during these difficult and challenging times, providing a consistent, safe space for the children, and enabling parents, many of whom are frontline key workers to continue to work. 

“As a sector, the early years is doing everything they can to remain operational, but due to nature of the role, socially distancing with young children is not possible. We want to provide a nurturing environment for the children attending, however we want to be given the tools to enable us to continue to do so safely. 

“PPE is a managed approach within the early years, as face masks limit the visual and physical communication between the adult and the child, and we want to provide a nurturing environment for our children attending and try to reduce the impact these uncertain times have on their daily routine.

“I started the petition to raise awareness of the early years sector and have our voices heard in respect of vaccinations. I am sure when I speak, I speak for all early years settings locally that early years settings do not always get the recognition that is often required. 

“Most of our teams are also parents to their own families and we daily heighten the risk for our own families by carrying the virus into our homes.

“We have been well supported as a sector from the early years team at Wiltshire Council, they provide regular updates and support for us, where the support is lacking is from higher up and the Government. 

“One setting within Westbury this week (week commencing 1st February) has been forced to close for the required isolation period due to several staff members testing positive. 

“The knock on of this is massive as no children are now able to attend, meaning parents are unable to work, and these staff are also unwell and may take an extended time to recover. Even after the isolation period, they may be unable to return to work.

“We as a sector need more recognition for the service we provide.”

To view the online petition, visit the website: www.change.org/p/wiltshire-council-get-the-early-years-sector-in-wiltshire-vaccinated-c40517a0-36d5-4b3d-8c91-9cccf30e0480

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