Vic releases ECEC COVID-19 management plan - what do you need to know?

Vic releases ECEC COVID-19 management plan – what do you need to know?

by Freya Lucas

January 24, 2022

The Victorian Government has unveiled its much-anticipated plan for managing the latest COVID-19 outbreak in early childhood education and care (ECEC). 

 

The Sector has prepared the summary below as a tool to assist services to understand the core changes, however in the rapidly evolving policy development space around COVID-19, services are encouraged to check with the relevant sources for the most timely information.

 

“The Chief Health Officer has further advised that Victoria is experiencing unprecedented and elevated rates of community transmission,” Premier Daniel Andrews said, “and education settings are likely to be linked to a significant number of cases once the academic year commences after the holiday period.”

 

Free rapid antigen tests (RATs) 

 

  • Will be delivered to all children’s services, including outside school hours care (OSHC) and there will be enough tests, in the first month, for all staff to test twice a week. 

 

  • Participating in RATs is voluntary – services can elect to not test staff 

 

  • The Department of Education and Training (DET) will estimate how many tests are needed based on the number of enrolled children at each service. For those services who staff above ratio, contact DET to ask if it’s possible to get more. 

 

  • Services don’t have to record the results of the tests, but for staff who do test positive, they will need to tell the service “for them to action”. 

 

  • The Victorian Government will deliver more than 14 million RATs to schools and ECEC services, including 6.6 million tests to be delivered in the first week of term.

 

Mask wearing 

 

  • ECEC staff are exempt from the requirement to be wearing a mask when they are working with children, but can choose to wear one if they want to. 

 

  • For those close contacts who are asymptomatic and returning to work under the close contact isolation exemption rules they must wear a close-fitting mask (this doesn’t have to be an N95 mask).

 

Booster shots

 

  • DET has asked all ECEC employers to encourage staff to get boosted as soon as possible. 

 

  • Boosters for ECEC staff will be mandatory from 25 February 2022.

 

Reporting requirements 

 

“The way COVID-19 cases are managed and reported in education settings will change from Term 1,” the Premier said, with a view to reducing the burden on schools and early childhood services. 

 

“Schools and kindergartens will be required to inform staff, parents and carers when there is a positive case and will provide advice on any steps families are required to take.”

 

An operational guide to these changes is expected to be released by DET later today. Services are reminded that if they need to close for three days or more they will need to inform the Department. 

 

To access the Premier’s media release in full, please see here.

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