Plans are being made to bring Dorset’s youngest children back into childcare settings, despite a lack of clarity in government guidelines.

Many nurseries and preschools are planning to reopen on June 1. The latest guidelines, published on May 12, suggest that the government “expects children to be able to return to early years settings” from June 1, but it has not been confirmed.

Risk assessments are being carried out and plans are being made to reduce the risk of infection as much as possible, Dorset Council says.

Registered childminders have had the option to provide care to other children from the same household, for example siblings, from May 13. However, they cannot do this is they are already caring for vulnerable children or the children of critical workers. Childcare settings that provide care for groups of children may potentially look different. This is because measures will need to be put in place to help keep children and staff as safe as possible.

Many early years childcare providers have remained open throughout the lockdown for children of essential workers.

However, for the providers which have been closed, there is only a short amount of time to prepare if they are to open on June 1.

Emma Burt, pre-school leader at St Catherine’s Pre-school in Bridport, said: “We’re reviewing hygiene procedures on a daily basis, children between two and four have no concept of social distancing and they’re not going to understand why they can’t touch things or people. There’s so much to do in such a small period of time.”

The manager of another nursery in Dorset, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We’ve been open the whole time for key workers, we haven’t had to furlough any staff so everyone has remained on full pay.

“We’re prepared to open on June 1; we will use four separate rooms with small groups in each room. We have a risk assessment in place which we will finalise and send out to the parents this week to explain the policies we’re putting in place and how we’re going to implement certain things.

“We will be concentrating on the mental welfare of these children, rather than the educational side. Their emotional well-being and social interaction are what’s most important.”