End of year events during COVID-19 – ECEC has questions, do Departments have answers?
As early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals line up what is traditionally a very crowded end-of-year calendar, with children transitioning to school, wait lists to be managed, and parental expectations of end of year celebrations, one question persists – how do we manage “the way things have always been” during a global pandemic.
While many professionals have had these questions, official guidance from state departments has, up until recently, been lean as each state manages its own border closures, restrictions and other challenges.
The Australian Capital Territory yesterday attempted to bridge that gap, issuing guidance about how end of year events may be managed in schools, which will also be of use to those operating in an ECEC context.
In the ACT, public health guidelines were modified in early October 2020, to allow expanded end of year events to take place for schools and other educational settings.
Aligning with broader community easing of restrictions, up to 200 parents and family members can attend graduation ceremonies.
“While schools will make their own decisions on how events will operate best for their school community, ACT public primary and high school graduation ceremonies will generally take place on school grounds, with up to two adults attending per student where possible. Schools with larger groups of graduating students may need to split sessions or limit family attendance to one adult per student.”
Live streaming, filming and photography were also suggested as solutions to support parents and family members to engage with end of year celebrations and milestones. All events, the Department of Education said, should be less than two hours where possible, especially when involving the wider community such as parents and carers, or when located indoors. Child-only events may go for longer.
If parents and carers are invited, density and gathering restrictions for adults on site will apply. This excludes staff and children for events on school premises, however staff and students are included if using an off-site venue.
Events such as graduations and assemblies must be seated and seats should be set up in a way that provides physical distancing of 1.5 metres between adults or household groups, the Department advised.
Event organisers are being encouraged to collect RSVPs and issue tickets for events in order to manage attendee numbers. Contact information about all staff, children and attendees who have attended an end of year event must be kept for contact tracing purposes.
To read the advice in full, please see here.