Govt outlines Covid-19 measures when early childhood development centres reopen


Early childhood development centres (ECD) might be reopening soon.

Although the reopening date has not been announced, the department of social development released a circular this week regarding the preparation and planning for the centres and partial care facilities.

Several ECD owners have been calling for the department to allow them to reopen, arguing that the centres serve as places of safety for children.

Trade union Solidarity's Occupational Guild for Social Workers and their School Support Centre (SCC) have also taken the department to court regarding the reopening of private nursery schools, but the case has been postponed to next Tuesday.

According to the department, the circular is meant to assist ECDs or partial care facilities to implement measures to prevent and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus among children.

The information will also support staff and officials, it said.

It also said that it was going to be a challenge for children attending ECD programmes to understand Covid-19, in particular the risks associated with the virus.

"Their ability to self-regulate and conceptual and practical understanding of measures, such as social/physical distancing, avoidance of surfaces, hygiene practices, and the consequences of not following new expected behaviour.

"The general impact of measures implemented since March 2020 to manage the impact of Covid-19 that created stress, anxiety and isolation that impact on their psychosocial well-being and ability to learn," reads the circular.

Measures

The department has outlined measures to be taken by staff prior to the reopening of ECDs.

It includes:


  1. All staff need to return to an early childhood development programme and/or partial care facility at least five working days prior to the reopening;

  2. The staff will receive an in-depth orientation regarding the virus, and measures related to managing it;

  3. They would establish measures and protocol for daily hygiene and cleaning practices that will be implemented on the premises and in the learning spaces;

  4. The staff will also receive in-service training on how to receive and support children and parents, and also how to engage with parents regarding healthy and preventative measures;

  5. The staff would also need to be provided with a thorough orientation, related to the pre-cleaning measures.

"Every parent, who returns a child to an early childhood development programme and/or partial care facility, shall be informed in writing that the return of a child to an early childhood development programme and/or partial care facility is voluntary and the sole decision of that parent or legal guardian."

The circular also states that a child, who returns to an early childhood development programme, will be subjected to daily symptom screening.

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