As the COVID-19 situation continues to unfold we are seeing further impacts on the Early Childhood Education and Care sector. With schools in NSW beginning their staged return to face-face classes we anticipate further challenges for our services as attendance rates climb.
We understand parents have many questions about the need for, and practical implementation of, social distancing in early childhood education settings. Health advice is clear that ECE settings are generally safe.
Current research suggests that children are not prolific spreaders of COVID-19. Overall confirmed case numbers in children are low and the available evidence suggests that the risk of transmission of the virus is predominantly adult-adult not child-adult or child-child.
ECE services are generally safe places for both staff and children provided health advice is followed and some simple measures are taken to minimise close contact between staff and between staff and parents to reduce the chances of adult-adult transmission in an ECE setting.
Good hygiene is always important. Education and Care services are well versed in the prevention of infectious disease and generally have very high hygiene standards. During periods of increased risk such as the current pandemic additional cleaning of surfaces, thorough and regular handwashing and the use of sanitiser where appropriate continues to go a long way to reducing the spread of the illness. Staff will remain vigilant about their own hygiene as well as the children’s. We ask parents/carers to please spray down children’s bags prior to entering and exiting the rooms at our service, tables are available outside of each area with spray bottles for families/carers to use.
While strict social distancing is not required (or practical) among children or between staff and children in an ECE setting, social distancing measures between adults who attend the service should be implemented and followed. This includes minimising close contact among staff, between staff and parents/carers, and eliminating unnecessary contact that may arise through excursions, interaction between services, and community events.
We will continue to implement simple measures such as spreading staff across a venue, initiating staggered drop-offs and pick-ups, and limiting visitors our services to only those who are essential such as regulatory staff and NDIS providers will reduce the risk of transmission of the virus between adults. Most importantly, any staff member or parent/carer who is even slightly unwell should not attend the service under any circumstances. Testing is now available to anyone in NSW who exhibits symptoms and any adult attending an ECEC service who develops even mild symptoms should be tested and isolate until they have their results.
It is not necessary for our services to minimise numbers of children attending on the basis of social distancing. While we understand there are still some challenges around funding and revenue the Commonwealth Government is responding to these issues as quickly as they can. You can keep track of developments in the Commonwealth funding space on their website.
As families may be aware there have some changes to the structure of the Early Childhood Education Directorate. As of Monday 27 April the Directorate has been separated into two distinct areas with two new Executive Directors.
Kathleen Forrester has joined as the Executive Director Policy and Programs and will lead on NSW’s contribution to national policy reforms and the Start Strong funding program. Kathleen’s team will also continue to provide sector support and professional development opportunities across the sector.
Approved Provider, Erina kindy Pty Ltd