In Victoria, you may have heard that childcare centres like ours have been affected by an outbreak of gastroenteritis. The Victorian Health Department has recently created a statewide alert for childcare centres to notify parents and initiate emergency cleaning procedures to reduce the spread of norovirus (a variant of gastroenteritis). At Child’s Play ELC, our educators have been taking extra precautions and maintaining our reputable cleanliness within our centres and your child’s rooms.

As parents ourselves, we also would like to remind you that gastro is highly contagious and unfortunately very transmissible. This is why if your child has gastro or is suspected of having gastro, we recommend keeping them home until there are no symptoms to ensure we do not continue spreading this virus.

One of the best ways to prevent gastro is to keep practising being hygienic, here are some added tips to help you as a parent for when your child has gastro.

Preventing the Spread

Don’t share food

As gastroenteritis is highly contagious, we recommend your child doesn’t share their food with others, including family members. This will not only limit transmission but will limit the likelihood of yourself or other members getting infected. When making their food separately, tell them that you are making a special meal just for them because they are sick, so that they don’t begin to feel left out or excluded. We also recommend limiting them to touching communal surfaces like couches and dining room tables. However, if you can’t prevent them from touching these spaces, make sure to wipe down with disinfectant before being used by yourself or others.

Wash soiled clothes, toys and bedding immediately

Your child may feel embarrassed to tell you that they have soiled the bed or themselves, and as parents, we are there to comfort them when these things happen. However, infections can spread the longer the bacteria is present, so when such events have happened take extra care and wash the items as soon as possible. It is also important that you wash their toys because the infection can linger on toys for months if it isn’t cleaned. To wash hard toys, we recommend washing them similar to your dishes at home with hot water and soap in a separate bucket rather than the sink. If you are washing soft toys as well, check if they can go in the washing machine.

Keep washing your hands.

In 2020, we all got very good at washing our hands and making sure we washed them for at least 20 seconds each time. In your household, you may even have some fun 20-second songs and rhymes to help your children wash their hands for the required time. With gastroenteritis, washing our hands after going to the toilet is even more important. If everyone continues to wash their hands with hot water and soap, we have a better chance of destroying bacteria and reducing transmission.

Practice safe food handling

One of our most practised good hygiene rules is safe food handling, in particular, keeping raw and cooked foods separate. When your child has gastro this is a very good one to keep practising and be extra vigilant to prevent further infection. We also recommend sanitising everything before and after cooking just in case there has been any cross-contamination.

Don’t come to childcare.

We know how much some children will miss childcare, but for the safety of other families it is advised that you stay home. When you are a part of our Child’s Play family we make sure to check in with you and your family as we miss your children and want to see them happy, healthy and running around our centre again.

We recommend taking some time off and making sure your child (and family) fully recovers in the comfort of your home. The Victorian health advice is that you should only come to childcare after not having symptoms for 48hrs.

Taking Care of Your Child

If your child does get gastroenteritis there are a few key things we recommend to help your child.

  • Make sure your child drinks fluids every fifteen minutes as they can lose a lot of fluids from vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • If your child refuses food it’s ok, when they do get hungry start with blander foods so as not to upset their tummy.
  • If your child gets dehydrated or becomes lethargic, see a doctor immediately.

Hopefully, if we all take some added measures to stay hygienic we can keep the gastro at bay. If you would like a copy of our sickness policy you may find it here, or if you want some more hygiene tips you can check out this previous blog.