Nursery's plea for protection as one of the few sectors to remain open

Monkey puzzle nursery

Caroline Musgrove, centre back, from Monkey Puzzle Nursery in Shefford, is calling for those working in childcare to be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccine. - Credit: Monkey Puzzle Day Nursery Shefford

A Shefford nursery is raising awareness of the difficult situation facing those in the early years sector, following the news they would be remaining open while the rest of the country locks down. 

Monkey Puzzle Day Nursery looks after around 80 children each day, with 20 members of staff, who are unable to social distance due to the nature of their work. 

Nursery director Caroline Musgrove is asking people to support a petition which calls on the government to prioritise teachers, school and childcare staff for the COVID-19 vaccination. 

She told the Comet: "Last time we were open for key workers children, this time it's a bit of a free-for-all.

"We feel pushed under the bus. Early years seems to be one of the areas that's ignored. We're always hearing about schools and teachers, as if early years workers are a group of people that are immune to COVID.

"We don't get any financial support or offers of regular testing that some schools got, even though we're right up close with the children every day."

Another petition going round is calling for early years centres to close completely, however Caroline has stressed that she and her staff want to continue being there for children and families. 

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"While we want to continue providing this valuable care we also want to remain safe," she continued.

"We recognise how difficult it is for parents to work from home while looking after a young child - and the statistics showing an increase in accidents, injuries and deaths of under fives during the first lockdown reinforces this."

The Shefford nursery has been keeping in bubbles to enable the nursery to stay open in the case of a positive test. 

Caroline has said she wants to do what she can to keep the staff, children and their families safe.

She said: "I just want people to understand the difficulty facing the early years sector right now. Remember, we are doing our utmost with minimal PPE, wiping noses and all sorts. 

"We do not want to queue jump in front of the vulnerable, we just want to be recognised."

To view the petition, which is set to be debated in Parliament on January 11, go to petition.parliament.uk/petitions/554316.

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