NORTH-EAST nurseries have been introducing new ways of operating after their lockdown ended at the start of this week.

Busy Bees reopened its Darlington nursery, Kids 1st, this week – but children will not be limited to specific play areas and floor markings.

Instead, the nursery will focus on dividing children into close friendship groups, limiting the number of people the children come into contact with, reducing the space that children can explore and increasing time spent outdoors.

All children and staff will have their temperatures checked upon arrival and any families waiting to enter the nursery will be asked to stand two metres apart at drop off and pick up.

The nursery aims to take regular temperature checks of both children and team members throughout the day, as well as frequent handwashing and disinfecting of communal areas.

The childcare provider, which has 378 centres across the UK and Ireland, is aiming to keep life as close to normal for children, with team members being advised to cuddle their key children if they happen to become upset during the day and to only wear face masks for temperature checks.

Busy Bees has kept 100 of its centres open throughout the crisis to support key worker families and vulnerable children and is one of the largest providers of childcare to the NHS.

The nursery provider has looked to its colleagues around the globe including, Australia, North America and in particular South-East Asia for learning, and is confident its measures will be enough to protect families in its care.

Busy Bees is also aiming to use its safety mascot – Safety Buzz – to help promote safety, health and wellbeing in all aspects of children’s lives both at home and whilst at nursery.

The safety with Buzz programme is unique to Busy Bees and provides a range of activities and information for educators and parents alike to use to educate their child in a positive way and is designed to help children understand risks and make good decisions on how to stay safe.

Emily Brimson-Keight, head of safety at Busy Bees, said: “There is much speculation about how life after lockdown could look in nurseries and schools, and parents are understandably very anxious.

“The biggest priority for us is, and always will be, the safety, welfare and happiness of the children in our care.

“That’s why we have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to open all centres, including those in Darlington, since they first went into lockdown.

"We are constantly sharing ideas and looking at best practice to ensure personal and emotional wellbeing for children and team members.

“We’re committed to providing the best start in life for children, no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in – which is why we’re proud to have kept over 100 centres open to provide crucial care, education and support for the children of key workers during the Covid-19 crisis.

The nursery provider also plans to continue providing its school readiness programme.