Melbourne ECEC sites dust off the dancing shoes as restrictions ease 1 November

Melbourne ECEC sites dust off the dancing shoes as restrictions ease 1 November

by Freya Lucas

October 26, 2021

All metropolitan Melbourne early childhood education and care (ECEC) services, including outside school hours care services (OSHC), will be open to all children from Monday 1 November, with relevant safety measures in place in line with the easing of restrictions given the early achievement of the 80 per cent double-dose vaccination target in Victoria. 

 

ECEC services will be able to recommence a range of activities, consistent with community settings and vaccination requirements. Effective Monday 1 November, all ECEC services will be able to resume:

 

  • professional development and staff meetings;
  • singing and music;
  • excursions;
  • holding graduations, orientation and transition programs consistent with community density limits and vaccination requirements (noting further detail will be provided on these settings); and, 
  • having a range of visitors working onsite, including photographers, incursion providers, school readiness funding (SRF) and allied health workers (noting further detail will be provided on these settings), compliant with ECEC worker vaccination requirements already advised.

 

It is a matter for ECEC providers as to when they recommence any or all of these permitted activities listed above, said Kim Little Deputy Secretary Early Childhood Services. 

 

“However, we would particularly encourage services to allow allied health and disability support staff onsite if this will better support staff and children, to support orientation and transition activities, and to continue to support students to attend their placements onsite.”

 

As onsite learning returns, the Department said it was imperative that the requirements that have been put in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission in ECEC services are strictly followed. This includes the following:

 

  • Parents/guardians and visitors onsite in ECEC should comply with maintaining 1.5 m physical distancing, practising good hand hygiene and contactless check-in (where possible) and must comply with face mask requirements.

 

  • Staff should maintain 1.5 m physical distancing from each other (wherever possible).

 

  • The density limit of one person per four square metres must be applied to any internal spaces accessed by essential visitors and used only by staff (for example, staff room).

 

  • As per existing COVIDSafe Setting guidance for ECEC, the following practical transmission minimisation strategies should be adopted by all Victorian ECEC services, wherever possible and safe.

 

Move to increased ventilation and outdoor programming 

 

Increasing outdoor air ventilation and using outdoor spaces is an important strategy in reducing the risk of aerosol transmission by increasing circulation of outdoor air.

 

ECEC services should, wherever possible:

 

  • move to an indoor/outdoor program (shifting to as much outdoor programming as possible);

 

  • increase fresh air flow into indoor spaces by ensuring that doors that open from the room into the service outdoor play area are open at all times, along with windows;

 

  • support staff to take breaks and eat lunch outside;

 

  • switch air conditioners with central recirculation to 100 per cent outdoor air;

 

  • ensure any air conditioners and heaters are well maintained; and, 

 

  • for not-for-profit services offering a funded kindergarten program: opt-in to Victorian Government COVIDSafe grant of up to $4,500 to support additional ventilation and air purification measures.

 

External drop-off

 

To ensure physical distancing and avoid people congregating at entry points, wherever possible:

 

  • children are to be dropped off and picked up in ways that do not involve parents/guardians entering the premises including the foyer, children’s rooms and play areas (if the physical layout of the service permits it and it is otherwise safe); and, 

 

  • where pick up and drop off occurs into areas outside the foyer, be particularly mindful of the supervision of children and ensuring unaccompanied children do not leave the service.

 

Contactless check-in

 

To further avoid people congregating at entry points, wherever possible:

 

  • move to contactless sign-in for children’s attendance, for example, parents/guardians signing in a child via a phone or app, or a staff member undertaking sign-in on their behalf; and, 

 

  • any person (excluding staff and children) entering the building must QR check-in.

 

Reduce mixing

 

Reducing mixing between different age or room groups is important to minimise risk of spread of transmission and aid containment in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 onsite.

 

Staff may need to move between rooms to support breaks and, in these situations, staff should be reminded of the importance of hand hygiene, physical distancing between themselves and other staff, and wearing masks when not directly caring for or teaching children. 

 

Further advice around ensuring COVIDSafe Settings in ECEC will be provided in the coming days, Ms Little said.

 

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