Coronavirus crisis: how is Early Childhood Education and Care coping?
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Image: Volodymyr Hryshchenko / Unsplash.com
As most educational institutions around Europe have closed due to the Coronavirus crisis, great efforts are being made to support teachers, parents and children in coping and ensuring a continuity of learning. In this context, the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector is meeting a whole range of specific challenges.
Going back to its origins, the sector is providing childcare to parents who are on the frontline, supporting the health system and society at large. Many ECEC professionals are still working, but without adequate hygiene protection and where social distancing is not an option – who could feed a baby 1.5 metres away? New professional teams are being formed from one day to the next, often at new locations, with new families and children.
While some ECEC settings have remained open, others have closed – following national instructions or lack of children attending. In some countries, staff can benefit from certain temporary unemployment measures. In other cases, they are being asked to support the health system in hospitals or to help care for the elderly.
ECEC settings, in particular private childcare, may suffer without income. It is crucial that the network of ECEC institutions remains strong and that none disappear, further reducing the provision. Professionals are also particularly concerned about vulnerable children, for whom ECEC settings can provide a shield against poverty or violence at home, and a step towards a better future.
A number of pre-primary educators are trying to reinvent teaching and learning at a distance – a challenge if you cannot, or do not want to, base it all online. It also depends on the availability of parents, who are often overwhelmed by their own responsibilities.
One concern is that the crisis will lead to ECEC staff leaving the profession, which is already heavily under-staffed in many countries. Yet, across Europe, we see them continually demonstrating their professionalism and passion for the role – hope for the future.
Are you facing similar or different challenges yourself? Do you have ideas or recommendations to share? Don’t hesitate to write a comment!