Numerous private nurseries around Scotland have vowed to stay open and take in the children of key workers to allow them to work through the coronavirus effort.
The offers come after a statement earlier on Thursday from education secretary John Swinney indicated that private and third sector nurseries will be key to supporting “critical workers” including doctors, nurses, and emergency service staff.
Most local authority schools and nurseries made plans to close indefinitely on Friday, leaving hundreds of thousands of parents without childcare.
Mr Swinney said: “Our priorities are to ensure that key workers who need childcare can continue to access it and that we sustain private and third sector providers during this period of considerable uncertainty and challenge.
“Childcare providers can also make a huge contribution to enabling key workers to remain in work. Local authorities are making plans for the provision of emergency childcare services to school aged children in their areas.
“In developing these plans, I have asked authorities to make maximum use of local childcare providers in the private and third sectors so that they can keep their doors open.”
Parkview Nursery in Dundee is one of several in the city which has offered special access to key workers as and when it’s needed.
Managing director Cheryl Stewart said: “Being a mum myself, and a single parent, I know how I’m feeling right now with the schools being closed. I’m in a position where I have the capacity to help.
“In this crisis everyone has got to do what they can, where they can, to assist everybody else. These frontline workers at the moment are what’s saving the country and if they don’t have childcare then we’re all in trouble.”
Parkview has offered to waive registration fees for children of key workers and offer childcare based on hours, rather than the standard full or half day booking.
Balgillo Nurseries in the city has also said it will prioritise childen of key workers.
Ms Stewart added: “It’s about getting us through this and every person has got a part to play. We’ll offer anything that’s needed whether it’s an hour, a few hours or a few days.
“The kids will be feeling the stress off us adults just now so we want to keep things as normal as possible and safe for them. It’s about their wellbeing too.”