New critical worker close contact protocols for ECEC in Western Australia

New critical worker close contact protocols for ECEC in Western Australia

by Freya Lucas

February 01, 2022

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and schools in Western Australia will have their own set of critical worker close contact protocols to reduce movement and minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission, while also minimising the impact on children’s learning.

 

The new protocols will only take effect when WA reaches a very high caseload environment, and complement the new Safe Return to School Plan, which includes a ventilation strategy, enhanced cleaning services and workforce and remote learning contingency plans in public schools, masks for secondary students and school staff, and mandatory vaccinations for school employees and regular visitors.

 

The new critical worker close contact definitions for contact tracing and testing purposes include:

 

  • Classroom contact – staff and students who have shared a classroom  or early childhood education room with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for one class period or more;
  • One-on-one contact – student and staff member who worked one-on-one with a person that has tested positive for COVID-19 and face masks were not consistently worn (e.g. student with an education assistant); and,
  • Workplace contact – Staff or other worker spends more than 15 minutes indoors in close proximity and not wearing a mask with an adult who is COVID-19 positive.

 

Testing and isolation protocols

 

The nature of a close contact will determine the testing and isolation protocol applied:

 

  • Positive case – isolate for seven days from the day of the positive test.
    • If no symptoms at day seven, can leave isolation
    • If symptomatic after seven days, remain in isolation until symptoms have cleared.
  • Asymptomatic one-on-one contact – isolate for seven days.
    • If no symptoms at day seven and a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) result is recorded, you can leave isolation
    • If any symptoms develop, test and follow protocols for ‘school-based close contacts who become symptomatic’.
  • Asymptomatic classroom or workplace contacts (teacher, education assistant) –
    • Take a RAT test daily for seven days;
    • Isolate when not at work;
    • Work in a surgical mask
    • Travel alone to work if possible.
  • If symptoms develop, or a positive test, follow protocols for ‘school-based close contacts who become symptomatic’.
  • Asymptomatic classroom contacts (student) – Students (aside from those that are positive cases) will be encouraged to continue attending school if they don’t have any symptoms.
    • Students who are asymptomatic classroom contacts should avoid, if possible, outside school hours care (OSHC), extracurricular activities or public transport for seven days.
    • If any symptoms develop, test and follow protocols for ‘school-based close contacts who become symptomatic’.
  • Asymptomatic workplace contacts (non-critical worker) – isolate for seven days with a RAT or PCR test on day six.
    • If the test is negative – exit isolation on day seven.
    • After completing isolation, monitor for symptoms for a further seven days.
    • If any symptoms develop, test and follow protocols for ‘school-based close contacts who become symptomatic’.

 

School or early childhood education based close contacts who become symptomatic – remain in isolation and get tested by RAT or PCR test.

 

  • If positive – follow the guidance for a ‘positive case’ (as above)
  • If negative, repeat the test 24 hours later. If again negative, follow the appropriate asymptomatic contact protocol (as above).

 

Symptomatic but not a school or early childhood education based close contact – A PCR test is preferred while laboratory capacity allows, otherwise complete a RAT test.

 

  • If positive – follow protocol for positive case.
  • If negative by a RAT test – isolate for 24 hours, then retake a RAT test. If the second RAT test returns a negative result there is no requirement to isolate.

 

“I would like to acknowledge the incredible work of the (early childhood) sector and their continued efforts in a challenging and changing environment – they provide an important service not only for the children who attend but for our community as a whole,” Community Services Minister Simone McGurk said. 

 

“As always, safety of children will continue to be the number one priority and these plans strike the right balance in allowing childcare services to operate with as little disruption to children and families as possible.”

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