Our plan for the Coronavirus issue
Good afternoon everyone,
We understand that our community is feeling a little anxious and uneasy about the current climate and is feeling scared about the CoronaVirus. We are trying to remain calm and cool about the situation, whilst also implementing a few strategies to help our community stay healthy and well. As Scott Morrison announced for the time being Childcare services will remain open. We have included a fact sheet on self- isolation. I know the next 6 months will be challenging, but if we work together and support one another to ensure open and honest communication then we will grow and learn from this experience.
Further Preventative Measures, in an effort to stay ahead of the curve, and help reduce the potential threat of sharing the virus within our community, you may have noticed we have placed additional hand sanitizers in and around the reception area.
However, as you’ll be very aware of hand sanitizer is now very much in short supply, and we are unable to provide the reception bottles after these ones have run out. Therefore, we are taking delivery tomorrow of portable hand wash stations for the reception area. These stations are much like the grey plastic ones you see at outdoor events, and provide fresh running water to wash your hands. Please use these handwash stations to wash your hands (and hum your favourite handwashing song!) every time you come into the service, and make sure to wipe your hands with paper towel ! We are asking all families to sanitise or handwash when they enter or exit the service.
We are also implementing further controls. The major symptom of COVID-19 (The Corona Virus) is a fever / temperature. Therefore, we are asking EVERY person who enters the service undergo a forehead temperature check with our new no touch thermometers. Our staff will be administering this check at the earliest opportunity as you enter the service. If, the forehead test identifies a temperature we will request we conduct an in-ear temperature check (just like they do at hospital). If this test identifies one of your party has a temperature, we will request that you do not attend the service that day, return home and monitor your family for any further symptoms. We are asking all families to stay in touch with us if they are feeling unwell to update us on this.
All visitors will be required to fill in a questionnaire and a waiver to allow access in to the service.
Social -isolation – take home packs
If you are social isolating for a pro-longed period of time; please talk to the service and let them know. We have, in all age groups, made up take -home activities and something for the children to help them understand this difficult situation and time; it is important at this time that we keep the lines of communication flowing to help children understand the changes going on around them.
As a pre-cautionary measure, we have cancelled all incursions to the service for the time being; this is to ensure that we can conform with the guidelines of social distances and reduce the risk. We hope to introduce these back into the service when the time is right and we feel it is safe to do so.
Multi-purpose room and rooms
We are currently evaluating and changing our room set ups to ensure that we can support some of the guidance and information around social distancing; this includes less chairs for children at tables or solitude activities. To also support the educators, we have converted the multi-purpose room to another staff room area; so that they do not get too close to one another.
We will continue to endeavour to teach our children about germs and the spread of infection throughout this time, such as: handwashing, social distancing, coughing and sneezing. You will also notice more information and pamphlets around the service if you require further information to explain to your child at the moment. It is important at this time that we use this as a learning opportunity.
I just want to say a huge thank you to all of you… for the parents that have asked if we need nappies, for the parents that got 30kg pasta for us, for the educators that went out and bought extra Panadol when they knew that it would be in short supply. I also want to say a massive thank you to the parents that are being vigilant and when themselves and their children are not 100%, they are staying away. Thank you to the parents that are keeping us up to date with open and honest communication…. We have an amazing community that really care and support one another and for that I am thankful, especially when the world seems to be a little crazy…. Give yourselves a pat on the back for being you !
Much Love and Respect
Ian and Sam Johnson, Owner and Director
First off, I would like to re-iterate… we have no children at EITHER SERVICE being tested or any confirmed cases.
Please see attached updated policies; which reflect the new information that we have gained recently about the CoronaVirus:
Lots of you have questions in relation to the way in which we are handling the coronavirus; I want to assure you that we will take the required steps e.g.
Childs Play Service closures and disruption
On Friday, the Prime Minister announced a number of measures that all Premiers have agreed to, on the basis of the advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Health Officers of the states and territories.
One important measure announced today was that all non-essential planned gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled from Monday. The measures do not include the closure of early childhood services so we are continuing to operate as usual.
Service closures will be made on the recommendation of DHHS. If the service closes due to a confirmed case of COVID-19, this is treated as a serious incident and requires a notification to QARD at the Department of Education and Training. If we do close then of course you will not be charged for childcare, as you cannot access it.
The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has at 9.45am this morning advised that at present they are not closing all schools (which we presume includes child cares), however, this is something they have plans for when / if it is required! However, this is likely to be a “when” rather than an “if” situation!
Provision of 15 hours and kindergarten funding
For children that access our funded kindergarten programs:
Where children are absent from the kindergarten program and/or where services are required to close due to coronavirus, the Department of Education and Training will continue to provide all existing streams of kindergarten program funding, the Department is relaxing the requirement to deliver 600 hours across the year and services will not be required to provide make up sessions as per current practice.
What can we do…..at home and while your child is in childcare?
Maintaining good hygiene standards is an important way to reduce the risk of acquiring and spreading respiratory infections, and helps to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children attending early childhood education and care services.
Child’s Play provides appropriate handwashing soap as handwashing is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory disease.
We have reviewed our cleaning of the service; and stepped up these efforts. We are implementing further steps in our cleaning processes and procedures.
What if a child/ family is showing signs of being unwell?
The definition of close contact – Close contact is defined by DHHS as someone who has had at least 15 minutes face-to-face contact or shared a closed space for more than two hours with a confirmed case.
As always, children or staff who are unwell and reasonably suspected to have a communicable disease should be excluded from Childs Play until well again.
Please, can all families be open and honest about their child/they and how they are feeling!; if you or your child is unwell, please stay home.
Firstly you may have the virus without even knowing as the symptoms may be mild; and secondly if you get infected then if you are already sick the virus can attack your immune system more.
Please be open and honest about what is happening; as we are all in this together! And it is not a witch-hunt (which unfortunately the media seems to be portraying it as, no-one was / is aware of having this virus and by no means would want to infect anyone… people are just trying to go about their everyday lives). Unfortunately this virus is spreading so fast it is hard to ensure any authorities can keep track of it; and also the symptoms can be quite mild; therefore people maybe unaware.
And we all need to make informed choices based on a good understanding of how everyone is feeling and doing. As educators we are not doctors but we are asking people to air on the side of caution at this time. Please do not give your child Panadol or Nurofen prior to drop off, as it can in fact mask temperatures and symptoms; therefore we cannot see them until the medication wears off! As high temperatures are one of the vital signs that we know of to identify this virus we are re-iterating the message to NOT give the Panadol / Nurofen prior to drop off (this will help to limit the amount of exposure)
If a child is in attendance at Child’s Play and is showing any symptoms of being unwell; the educators will let the management know. If these symptoms are ANY that are outlined and part of the CoronaVirus; we will be (as much as possible) trying to isolate that child (not always easy or possible to do) and will be asking parents to pick up and seek further advice from a doctor. We need families to pick up ASAP to help contain the spread of this Virus and limit exposure; worst case scenario 1 hour (because the longer the child/people are in close contact the greater chance of infection to others ). The management team will take the lead and communicate with carers/parents and monitor the child.
If a child has been sent home because they are showing symptoms of the coronavirus; the management team will be in contact with the family regularly to get progress updates; only once they are satisfied will the child return; children will not be accepted back into the service until they have been cleared by a medical professional! This clearance will need to SPECIFICALLY mention that the child / family have been tested for and cleared of COVIC-19! The parent MUST gain advice and evidence from the doctor; and update the service, particularly the management team on what the outcome of this is/was. Once that advice is obtained; and the doctor clears’ them to come back in we will accept the child.
Overseas and Annual leave
If a child has been overseas; we are asking them to obtain clearance from a doctor and self-quarantine after they arrive back so symptoms may develop. The self-quarantine period varies depending on the location the child/family has visited please check with the management team in regards to this. All of the management team are getting in touch with families that have been away or are planning to go away and discussing what it means to them and these measure; the advice changes and is updated regularly.
If a child or staff member at Childs Play is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is identified by health authorities as a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID‑19
If we believe a child or staff member at your Childs Play is a confirmed case of COVID-19 or is in close contact to someone who is a confirmed case of COVID-19, we would seek advice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on 1300 651 160. As soon as this occurs we will let ALL of our families know As soon as we are advised by the Department of health and Human services to do so. I want to re-iterate… we have no children at ANY SERVICE being tested or any confirmed cases. At present we cannot give time lines as it is an ever evolving situation; and we can only enact these action plans once and IF we have a confirmed case. We want to be open and honest and are not holding back in any way from communicating with you about this evolving situation, please keep checking your emails regularly, keep your mobile phones handy so we can keep in contact with you at all times.
Help and support for our families if/when you’re at home with your children.
We are currently looking at options where we can interact and educate our children remotely via some online forums (Zoom meetings, google hangouts etc), however, this is still very early in the planning stages. Once we have some further details on this we will share with you. We are hoping that if we do have to close that room leaders/educators would be able to converse with the children remotely… and help and support your family to continue to support and educate your child if they are home for an extended period of time. We believe that by keeping this contact going (and we have experienced closure’s before : we has a service that closed down due to a fire) this will help to continue to develop relationships, enable communication and find out how you and your child are going and feeling and come up with appropriate advice and activities to support this. This will also help when the madness of this situation calms down and the children have to re-orientate back into the service
ALTERNATIVES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
As you are aware supplies are in shortage; we have a limited number of Babylove nappy’s and wipes, therefore we have had to order another generic brand from our supplier at the moment !… we will use the Babylove and joeys wipes until they run out but then we will have to use the generic brands that we have had to purchase. Please note these generic brand nappies are still high quality products provided by the same supplier. We hope to return back to these brands as soon as possible
Same as the situation with the nappies we are struggling to get some foods; therefore, the menu may have to change to compensate this. If there is a change to the menu Beckk or Jenn will inform you and send out a daily e-mail with those changes. We are hoping that there will not be too much disruption to this, but it is important to be aware.
The situation with COVID-19 is continuing to evolve. The Department of Education and Training will continue to keep you updated on the potential implications for early childhood services.
For further information and the latest advice, including in relation to updated travel restrictions, please see the Department of Education and Training’s Coronavirus advice web page.
For advice on early childhood regulatory matters, please contact QARD at the Department of Education and Training on 1300 307 415.
Please keep the lines of communication open…. And at the moment we are trying our very best to ensure you are informed and up to date, not in anyway to scare you !… we are just trying to think ahead. We apologise if this is to much communication at this point; but we wanted to be proactive and open.
Much love and respect,
Ian and Sam Johnson, Owner and Director
Dear Parents and Carers,
We have had a few parents express their concerns in regards to the coronavirus… if this effects the service and what it means to them?
If we have to close the service (at present we have no intention or advice to do this!) ; this will be something that will occur based on information and guidance given by the Department of Education and the health organisation.
If the service does have to close; families would not be charged for care throughout this time. If you are NOT using the service and we cannot fulfill our role, it would be unfair to charge you for this. Any days we are closed WILL NOT contribute towards your 42 days allowable absences.
We as a service are being pro-active and amongst other things are introducing further in depth cleaning of all surfaces, toys etc and monitoring all children EVEN more for signs of sickness.
Actions we are taking
At the outset, I need to be clear that at this time we have no cases of infection among any members of The Child’s Play community. We are proceeding with a “business as usual” approach in all things, assessing risk and making decisions as required. Nevertheless, we are planning for a number of scenarios that may eventuate but we are hoping for the best.
In response to the heightened risk we have taken a number of steps such as;
- postponing excursions and taking the children to places where multiple people may be.
- Provided hand sanitiser for all staff and parents at both reception and the signing area
- Reiterated the importance of hand-washing to children in all programs and also displaying posters in key areas outlining effective hand-washing.
- Educational discussions and activities with children in relation to hand washing, and covering nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze.
- All children are supervised in their handwashing procedure, including before and after meals, after playing outside, going to the toilet, coughing. Etc
- Staff are ensuring that hard surfaces such as tables, chairs, phones, door handles and open shelving are cleaned with disinfectant wipes.
The classification of the situation as Global Pandemic by the World Health Organisation overnight may have an impact on future events.
Each activity involving children and staff in any capacity has unique needs and circumstances to be considered as we evaluate the risks involved. At all times, decisions are informed by facts and reliable information in conjunction with a sense of community support. Each response needs to be proportional to the risk here and now. It is also important to understand this can change quite quickly over time.
It is also important to remind everyone of the normal precautions around health and attending school. If children are sick, it is important to ensure they receive appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible. In the event of you or a member of your family receiving a positive test to COVID-19 please advise the service by telephoning. The most reliable information about prevention is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website. This link provides access to the information https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/202003/Ten ways to reduce your risk of coronavirus_0.pdf.
Who should be restricted from attending the Childs Play :
Anyone who meets the following criteria should not visit Childs Play during this time:
- Left or transited through mainland China, Iran or South Korea in the last 14 days (they must self-isolate themselves for 14 days from date of leaving)
- Been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus in the last 14 days (they must self-isolate themselves for 14 days after the date of last contact with the confirmed case).
- Are showing any cold or flu-like symptoms. If you have any symptoms, call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.
- International travel – If you are planning a trip away or have been out of the country over the last 14 days ; may I advise caution and to self-quarantine for up to 14 days (depending on the place visted) and also get a corona virus clearance from your doctor. Management at the services will be in contact if you have had any annual leave or are planning this
Should the Childs Play ELC remain open:
In light of this situation and Based on current advice from the State Government, “At the present time there is no evidence of transmission in the community in Victoria so you should continue to go about your business. You don’t need to take actions like limiting your movement in the community or staying at home.” (11 March, DHHS website) , the current course of action is to keep our activities as normal as possible for the benefit of all our decision. A decision for extreme action such as closure of service for any period would be on the advice of appropriate external health and education authorities. On the information we have at this point in time closure of the service for any period is not anticipated. At this time we are expecting to operate normally and arrangements in the immediate future.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness caused by a new virus
- Symptoms range from a mild cough to pneumonia
- Some people recover easily, others may get very sick very quickly
- There is evidence that it spreads from person to person
- Good hygiene can prevent infection
- There is a dedicated hotline 1800 675 398 if you suspect you have been infected
Some Handy Tips; Ten ways to reduce the risk of coronavirus
- Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.
- Isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. If you take medication ensure you have adequate supplies.
- Phone your GP first if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do.
- Continue healthy habits: exercise, drink water, get plenty of sleep, and now is the time to quit smoking. Call the Quitline 137 848.
- Don’t wear a face mask if you are well.
- Buy an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with over 60 per cent alcohol.
- Get the flu shot (available April).
- Shaking hands is optional!
I hope you find this information reassuring and useful. We will continue to face many challenges in the coming weeks and perhaps months as we remember the ongoing commitment to the wellbeing and success of our students defines the actions we take.
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