TIGGERS nursery in Tetbury feels that the early years sector is "unsupported" by the government as they remain open during the third national lockdown.

The Early Years Alliance has written to education secretary Gavin Williamson and children and families minister Vicky Ford criticising the omission of the early years sector from the debate.

Parents and providers across the country are questioning why they are remaining open in areas where their primary colleagues have been advised that it is not safe to do so.

Theresa Lang, managing director of Tiggers nursery said: "Tiggers Nurseries in both Cirencester and Tetbury have not had a single child or staff case of Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

"The nurseries use stringent Covid-19 risk assessments, employ cleaning staff separate to the workforce, take staff temperatures daily and instruct staff not to mix outside of the nursery settings.

"It would support the Government's belief that children are therefore less susceptible to the virus and also less likely to pass the virus on to adults.

"Staff had not been wearing PPE in the setting when working directly with the children but have since the new strain of the virus begun to use visors at all times, as we do not yet have the science behind how the new strain affects children.

"Pending an outcome that nurseries may remain open to key workers, we carried out a pre-lockdown survey yesterday to establish which percentage of parents would still require childcare as a key worker and this presented us with an 80 per cent occupancy result.

"Therefore, the Government's decision to keep nurseries open for all does not have that much of an impact on us remaining open.

"That is not to say that we are being complacent, as all staff have a certain level of anxiety, but they also are happy and willing to provide stability, love and care for children during these stressful times and be a support system for their families, which is of key importance for us to be able to give them some normality at this unprecedented time in their lives.

"One thing that would ease the pressure for this fourth emergency service would be to vaccinate all staff and therefore we would not be faced with the extra challenges of staffing self-isolation periods when staff family members have symptoms of Covid.

"They themselves are isolating to protect the children and their colleagues to keep the settings safe and to continue operating. "Nurseries must still maintain their staff:child ratios under the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements, so that in itself presents a major problem across all childcare settings.

"The CE of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Purnima Tanuka is lobbying on behalf of this important sector to become a priority vacation criteria group, which would strengthen the Early Years workforce and thus continue to provide the stability for parents to continue in their key working roles and further protect the children in our care.

"Remaining open for all gives the remaining 20 per cent of parents a much-valued choice in their lives at a time where it is a criminal offence to leave your home without a valued reason, whilst also having a choice over their family’s safety and wellbeing.

"We completely understand the need for as many businesses and schools to lock down, but we also believe that it is equally important to give children, who have so far remained (on the whole) unaffected some security and normality and there is also the important need to protect the frontline workers by providing their children with continued childcare.

"At Tiggers we do not feel any more vulnerable today as we did back in March, but we also do not feel anymore supported by the Government in terms of funding or treating the Early Years sector as importantly as they do schools.