Canberra providers share challenges in keeping rooms open as COVID continues
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services across Canberra have spoken out about the challenges they are facing as widespread COVID-19 infections repeatedly force staff and children into isolation.
Manjura Park Childcare CEO Natalie Colbert spoke with local news source The Canberra Times saying that across her three services there had been 15 instances of COVID-19, mostly due to children attending while infectious.
“We’ve been really financially hit. The centres can kind of manage in short doses and short amounts of loss of revenue, but it’s the educators who really struggle because they keep going into isolation,” Mrs Colbert explained.
Educators in her service have completed seven day isolations, returned for a day, and then been placed back into isolation almost immediately. Not only is this pattern disruptive for the service, it financially disadvantages educators who need to rely on pandemic disaster payments rather than their typical wage.
Speaking out about the impact of intermittent closures such as the ones outlined above, Early Childhood Australia CEO Samantha Page told the paper this is likely to be a pattern for at least the next six months, lobbying for a different approach to be taken.
“I think we were all hoping we were going to come back in 2022 vaccinated and life would get back to normal. But 2022 is looking more complicated and I think we need a different solution to waiving fees,” she noted.
“What we suggested to the government is that the families all have for the next, say, three months a higher level of childcare subsidy, so say 95 per cent childcare subsidy, and then it would be OK for services to waive fees.”
Ms Page said the sector was after more guidance and support around the definition of close contacts and the appropriate use of rapid antigen tests for workers.
“Kudos to the educators and teachers and service managers that are working through this because they’re entering now their third year trying to deal with this situation. I think it’s really tough.
“We really all need to say a big ‘thank you’ and try and make their life easier where we can.”
To read the original coverage of this story please see here.
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