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DfE confirms that PVI settings will not be provided with home testing kits

By Rachel Lawlercovid testing early years

The Department for Education has confirmed that private and voluntary early years providers and childminders will not be given access to home testing kits for asymptomatic cases.

Only maintained nurseries and primary schools will be given access to the home testing kits.

The announcement means that childminders and staff in private, voluntary and independently run nurseries and pre-schools are likely to need to travel to testing sites during working hours to be part of asymptomatic community testing, instead of being able to test at home.

As part of the joint #ProtectEarlyYears campaign, the Alliance alongside early years organisations NDNA and Pacey, has called for mass testing to be rolled out at all early years settings, as well as priority access to the next phase of vaccinations and increased financial support from government.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "It is a complete insult to find out that the DfE's promise to roll out mass asymptomatic testing in the early years in fact only applies to the maintained sector, with private and voluntary providers once again left to fend for themselves.

"All early years providers have been asked to remain open to children and families during national lockdown. How can it be right, then, that only maintained nurseries and nursery classes will - like primary schools - have testing kits delivered direct to their doors, while those working in PVI settings are simply told access the same testing centres that are open to the general public?

"The government claims that PVI providers will have 'priority' access to NHS testing, but we know from previous experience that such guarantees all too often fail to materialise in reality. What's more, with early years staff working during the day - often longer hours than normal to ensure that their premises remain Covid-secure - it's not clear exactly when the workforce is expected to find time to travel to testing centres to access these tests.

"We urge the Department for Education to rethink this appalling decision as a matter of urgency and ensure that all early years providers are treated fairly and equally."