RAT rule change for Vic ECEC services, and updates on other programs and services
Lisa Gandolfo, the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Early Childhood Education for the Victorian Department of Education and Training, has issued an update for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services.
Ms Gandolfo’s update shared important information about the provision and use of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) by staff and children in ECEC services, along with information about other ECEC programs and services such as student placements, and updated guides and templates.
Update to the use of RATs by staff and children
The information below applies to the provision of RATs for use by ECEC staff and children until Friday 24 June 2022 (the end of Term 2).
ECEC services will continue to be provided with the same weekly quantity of RATs which should in turn be provided to families and staff, in line with current practice.
Effective Monday 23 May 2022, the use of RATs will only be required where staff and children are close contacts (household contacts) or they have symptoms of COVID-19 (such as fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath or a runny nose).
Children and staff will therefore no longer be recommended to conduct RATs twice a week if they have no symptoms. Close contacts will need five negative tests over a seven-day period to attend a service.
Face masks can also continue to be used by any staff or children who wish to do so, including those who are medically at-risk. A letter for parents and carers is available to be sent via email or newsletter.
Updated guides and templates for services
The template letters and guidance for services which are managing cases of COVID-19 have been updated. These resources are available at Managing a COVID-19 case in early childhood education and care services (ECEC) to support messaging to staff and parents/carers.
There are separate resources and guides for family day care (FDC) services. This is because FDC is treated as a “household”, therefore there are minor differences in the orders that apply to FDC. FDC guidance and resources are located at Managing a COVID-19 case in early childhood education and care services (ECEC).
The COVIDSafe ECEC Settings Guide remains the detailed source of information for services. The guide is continually updated to reflect changes in guidance. The focus on ventilation, vaccination and COVIDSafe measures remains in place for ECEC services for the remainder of Term 2.
To support the completion of a tertiary student’s early childhood education qualifications, services can continue and are encouraged to host student placements across Victoria, in line with current COVIDSafe settings.
The long-term benefits of placements are important for the sector, as well as for the students, services and children.
Facilitating placements helps students to fulfill their aspirations to join or progress in the early childhood profession and supports the availability of skilled staff in the future. Services that need to recruit staff can benefit from building connections with final-year students on placement.
For more information about supporting COVIDSafe student placements in ECEC settings, visit Student placements in early childhood education and care.
Quick links for ready access to key resources and supports:
- COVIDSafe ECEC Settings Guide
- Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for ECEC staff and children
- Worker vaccination requirements | Coronavirus Victoria
- Vaccination information for children and teenagers
- COVID-19 Exposure Management and communication template
- Pandemic Order Register | health.vic.gov.au
The department’s Early Childhood COVID-19 Advice Line is also available weekdays from 8.30am to 5pm on 1800 338 663. Those who require an interpreter should call 131 450 first.
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