Nursery school teachers have hit out at the Government for saying they are to remain open during the latest national lockdown.
The new variant of coronavirus, which first emerged in Kent, led to schools being closed just one day after the start of the new term in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus - but those in the pre-school sector were not included.
It comes as a further 1,325 people died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid test yesterday - the biggest figure reported in a single day since the pandemic began.
Amelia Clark, from the Lodge Nursery School in Sevenoaks, said it is “haemorrhaging incredibly anxious staff.”
"The preschool sector is being put in an intolerable position.
We have been asked to open when schools are told it is not safe to do so.
"The preschool sector has been lumped together with the day nursery sector when the risk profiles of both are entirely different," she added.
'we are not prioritised for the vaccination programme,'
Mrs Clark explained vaccine priotised NHS staff who recently treated her daughters for long-Covid and chicken pox were able to socially distance, a privilege not afforded for nursery teachers.
The mother echoed the concerns of the National Day Nurseries Association’s (NDNA) chief executive's Purnima Tanuku.
She said this week nurseries and childcare providers were being put into “an intolerable position by the government” by being told to stay open while schools close.
Mrs Clark continued: "We are not in any way able to socially distance from the children we care for, which the Department for Education has clearly stated they do not expect or anticipate us doing.
"However, we are not prioritised for the vaccination programme."
In an open letter to Alex Gamby, head of early years and childcare at Kent County Council, she voiced fears for her staff, many of whom are over fifty.
"More now than at any other point during this pandemic I feel incredibly worried about my team and their dependent relatives and am finding it almost impossible to justify continue to operate."
Mrs Clark said her nursery is "proud" to look after children and urges the council to engage with the sector on issues about safety. She added the nursery is one of a collective involved in lobbying the government to give the industry more recognition.
From Tuesday, all primary schools, secondary schools and colleges in England moved to remote learning, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.