AHPPC releases statement on COVID-19, schools and ECEC

AHPPC releases statement on COVID-19, schools and ECEC

by Freya Lucas

November 17, 2021

The best method to protect all children from COVID-19 is to ensure vaccination of those around them, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has said in a statement on COVID-19, schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC).  

 

In its statement, the AHPPC outlines that most children who contract COVID-19, including those who contract the Delta variant, have a mild form of the disease. 

 

As such, the AHPPC said, the best method to protect all children from the disease is to ensure vaccination of those around them who are able to be vaccinated. 

 

“Even though disease is typically mild in children, it is worth taking actions to prevent transmission in early childhood settings where outbreaks may occur,” the statement notes. 

 

Delta spreads more readily than other variants, including in children, however steps can be taken to prevent incursion of the virus into early childhood settings. 

 

“Anyone with new respiratory symptoms, including children, parents and staff, should stay home and arrange to be tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible,” the AHPPC said. 

 

Staff members will have high rates of vaccination but need to be aware that COVID-19 breakthrough infections can occur and whilst mild, can still be a source of transmission.

 

The following actions for ECEC settings were recommended to prevent the transmission of the virus to others: 

 

  • Hand and respiratory hygiene 
  • Good ventilation 
  • Regular environmental cleaning
  • Mask wearing by all adults. 

 

International studies have shown that transmission in early childhood education centres is highest between staff, and second highest from staff to children. As such, the AHPPC notes that staff need to maintain physical distancing from each other particularly in areas prone to crowding such as tea rooms. 

 

Where feasible, establishing groups of children into ‘bubbles’, and/or grouping siblings where appropriate, moving lessons and activities outdoors, where possible, to allow safe and effective physical distancing in fresh outdoor air will reduce the opportunities for transmission between groups and limit the number of persons who may need to quarantine if a case emerges. 

 

Where prevention strategies have been in place, the spread of disease within early childhood settings has been shown to be low.

 

The AHPPC ended the statement by acknowledging the benefits of education on-site at schools and early learning settings and by showing an appreciation for the apprehension some people hold about transmission of COVID-19 in schools and early learning settings. 

 

To access the statement in full, see here. 

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