Vic Chief Health Officer delivers a message for families and ECEC services
Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Adjunct Clinical Professor Brett Sutton, has issued a message for the families who use early learning services, and the educators who care for them, thanking the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector for its continued support of Victorian children and their families over summer, and extending a welcome to parents and children for 2021.
“Following an incredible effort by children, staff, teachers, educators, parents and carers last year, Victorian ECEC services are well-placed to continue into 2021,” Professor Sutton said.
Throughout the pandemic, he said, Victorian ECEC services have rapidly adapted and successfully implemented measures to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in ECEC environments. By embedding COVIDSafe principles in all operations and by reinforcing good behaviours throughout 2020, ECEC services have created safe spaces and are in a strong position to quickly respond to any COVID-19 risks that may emerge.
“Given the current very low risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community, continued high rates of testing, wastewater monitoring, and continued observance of health and safety measures in ECEC services, those with medical vulnerabilities or their carers can feel reassured that they can safely return to working and learning on site,” he added.
Although there have been some outbreaks over the summer break, the Victorian community has also demonstrated its capacity to respond quickly to limit the impact of these outbreaks.
“Should community cases of COVID-19 increase again, I am confident that with COVIDSafe plans in place, alongside our ability to quickly identify and respond to cases, ECEC services remain safe places for all staff and children,” Professor Sutton said, adding that he “continued to be reassured” by evidence that children are less impacted by the virus and are less likely to develop severe illness.
Despite the positivity, he said it was crucial for everyone to remain vigilant, to stay home when unwell, get tested, perform regular hand hygiene, wear a mask when required and maintain physical distancing from others when practical.
ECEC services should consider how they can continue to pursue strategies that contribute to reduced transmission of COVID-19, and providers and parents also play an important role in promoting and ensuring testing when a child or staff member has any symptoms, no matter how mild, and then stay home.
“Getting tested and staying home until results are known, remains critical to limiting community transmission,” he said in closing.