content-left-bg.png
content-right-bg.png

COVID-19 service information

WebPartZone1_1

The following information has been compiled to help you in managing your service's operations.

Note: The information contained in this page is current as at date of publication.

Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your service

Managing an unwell child or staff member

Closures

All services

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee does not recommend pre-emptive closures of services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Childcare services are considered essential services and are encouraged to continue to operate wherever possible. Read more in the AHPPC statement of 6 April.

The decision to close early childhood services would be based on advice from Queensland Health, including assessing any risks to the health and welfare of staff, students and children.

If an approved provider closes a regulated service due to a confirmed COVID-19 case on the premises, or as a precaution, they must:

  • notify the Department of Education in Queensland via the NQA ITS (services regulated under the NQF)
  • notify the Department of Education in Queensland via the ECEC Emergency Closure Portal (services regulated under the ECS Act)
  • continue to liaise and seek advice from Queensland Health.

Outside school hours care services

If a state school closes because of a confirmed COVID-19 case on the premises, or as a precaution, the outside school hours care (OSHC) service will continue to operate unless directed to close on advice from Queensland Health.

Early Years Services

Any decision to close Early Years Services should be based on advice from the Chief Health Officer, including assessing any risks to the health and welfare of staff, parents and carers, and children.

It is important that Early Years Services consider business continuity planning to ensure that children and their families are able to access services.

Over time, this may mean some changes in the way activities are offered, for example managing risks by reducing the size of groups, maintaining contact with families by phone and use of technology.

Operating hours and regulatory requirements

Outside school hours services (OSHC) and school operating times

Under the National Quality Framework a service approval states the conditions under which the service must operate. For an OSHC service this includes the sessions of care provided to children e.g. before school, after school and during school holidays. In line with these conditions the service may cater for children outside the school’s operating time. For example:

  • Prep to Year 1 children finish school at 2.30pm and may attend after school care from 2.30pm.
  • Years 2 to 4 children finish school at 2.45pm and may attend after school care from 2.45pm.
  • Years 5 and 6 children finish school at 3.00pm and may attend after school care from 3pm.

The service must continue to meet all regulatory requirements to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children. This includes qualifications, staff to child ratios and any other conditions imposed on the service approval such as approved places.

Approved providers considering enrolling and accepting additional children must ensure the number of children does not breach the capped numbers on their service approvals. Approved providers must ensure that at all times the required staff to child ratios are met.

Changes to operating hours and regulatory requirements

The approved provider must notify the Regulatory Authority (the department) within 7 days of any changes to a service’s hours and days of operation (Section 174(2) of the National Law and Regulation 175(2)). Approved providers can amend the hours of operation via the National Quality Agenda IT System.

Services must display the hours of operation on the premises (Section 172 of the National Law and Regulation 173). This information must accurately reflect the specified hours of operation at any given time.

Excursions and incursions

Excursions and incursions

Approved Providers of early childhood education and care services are responsible for deciding when to commence taking children on excursions and hosting visitors at their service. When undertaking these activities it is important that Approved Providers ensure that services adhere to the relevant Public Health Directions issued by the Queensland Chief Health Officer, and take into account the guidance outlined in relevant AHPPC statements and Safe Work Australia. This includes maintaining social distancing between adults and appropriate hygiene practices.

Health

It is important to make sure unwell children and staff stay home if they have any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • fatigue
  • loss of smell and/or taste.

People may also experience other symptoms such as headache, nausea or vomiting, muscle pain, joint pain, diarrhoea or a loss of appetite.

Symptoms may vary depending on each case.

For guidance on when to send unwell children, educators or staff home, read the NHMRC's preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services.

Anyone who displays any of the symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, should seek medical advice.

For information on testing and fever visit the Queensland Health website or call 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Children and staff should stay at home until they no longer have symptoms and seek medical help as required.

Children do not need a medical certificate to return to your service after they have recovered from a period of illness.

Temperature screening

A fever is classified as a temperature reading at or above 37.5° Celsius.

If a child's temperature is at 37.5° Celsius or above, ask them to wait in a separate room and re-check their temperature in 15 minutes.

If the second reading again equals 37.5° Celsius or above, the child should return home with their parent or carer.

Educators should wash their hands before and after conducting the temperature screening each morning.

Services should have systems to ensure devices are cleaned and disinfected using disinfectant wipes or a spray when screening is finished.

Please note temperature screening does not replace the need for other important public health measures such as hand hygiene, and enhanced cleaning and disinfecting.

Hygiene

Remind educators, staff, families and children that everyone can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to practice effective hand and respiratory hygiene. Download Queensland Health’s stop the spread of germs poster (PDF, 109KB) to print or send home with families.

Hand hygiene

All educators, staff, children and visitors to services should wash their hands regularly, particularly on arrival, before and after eating, after blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing or using the toilet.

You are a role model for children and parents and carers so actively talk about why everyone needs to wash their hands and the importance of everyone doing this.

Make sure you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, or cough into your elbow.

Dispose of the tissue in a bin and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Make sure liquid soap and running water, or alcohol-based hand sanitiser, is available at the entrance of, and throughout, the facility. Before using sanitiser check with parents or carers whether their children have allergies or allergic responses. Make sure sanitiser is kept out of children’s reach and use is monitored.

Tissues

Have tissues readily accessible and bins provided in each room and outdoor area for easy disposal.

Teach children how to cough or sneeze hygienically with these three steps:

  1. cover your mouth with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing
  2. dispose of tissues immediately after use
  3. wash hands or use hand sanitiser

Drinking fountains

Children should not drink directly from drinking fountains. Educators or staff should use the fountain to assist children and buttons or touch points cleaned after use. Children should bring their own water bottle for use (and refilling) at the service. Children must not share water bottles.

Food

No one should share food.

Ensure food handlers practise hygiene as per NHMRC guidance in staying healthy: preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services.

Mobile phones

Discourage educators and staff from using mobiles if possible. Remind educators and staff to clean their phones regularly.

Social distancing

Minimise congregation

It is important services consider arrival and departure procedures to minimise opportunities for parents and carers to gather in groups, including in the foyer.

If possible, parents should drop off and pick up children in a safe place on the service's premises instead of entering children’s rooms and play areas.

Download a keep physical distancing and be COVIDSAFE poster from the Australian Government Department of Health’s website. Hang the poster in an obvious place and mark floors at desks and counters to remind adults to keep 1.5 metres apart.

Staggered start and finish times

Services should adopt staggered start and finish times where possible.

While staggered start and finish times occur naturally in some service types, other settings will often have one arrival and pick-up time.

Consider how the arrival and pick-up time could be spread out.

This could mean dividing the group and allocating times, noting that it is not expected that session times are extended to accommodate additional arrival and departure procedures.

Greeting parents and children at the front door in the morning and during pick-up times allows for one-on-one communication with families while practising physical distancing.

It is also an opportunity to consider whether children are showing any signs of being unwell.

Encourage non-contact greetings.

Considerations for teaching and learning environments

Maintaining a physical distance of 1.5 metres is not practical in early childhood services. Practise physical distancing between all people as much as possible.

Reducing mixing between different age or room groups will minimise the risk of spreading transmission and aid containment if a COVID-19 case is confirmed on-site.

Consider small group play, staggered mealtimes and indoor/outdoor play whenever possible.

Open windows during the day to promote air flow if weather permits.

Consider room setup and activity placement, and limit the number of whole group activities.

Rather than having group times where everyone is sitting on the mat, consider using informal opportunities to engage with small groups of children at a time.

For younger children, consider rotating and cleaning toys more often.

Monitor and avoid children sharing toys that were placed in mouths.

Wherever possible and where you have enough staffing for adequate supervision, consider operating an indoor/outdoor program.

A greater range of activities will encourage children and staff to spread out more broadly.

Minimise where possible mixing educators and children between rooms.

Staff may need to move between rooms for breaks so remind them of the importance of hand hygiene.

Where multiple staff are in a room, remind them to maintain physical distancing from each other as much as practical.

Considerations for offices and staff facilities

As the greatest risk of transmission of COVID-19 in a service is between adults, avoid close proximity between staff where possible, and especially in offices and staff rooms.

Space out workstations as much as possible and limit the number of staff in offices. Where possible, staff should use separate offices.

Remind staff to maintain physical distance from each other as much as possible in the reception, staff room and offices.

Wellbeing and supporting children

Health and safety are always priorities but educators and staff should also take into account children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

The following tips from a Telethon Kids Institute article are aimed at parents and carers but are useful for educators and staff of early childhood services.

Six tips for discussing COVID-19 with children

  1. Be honest but age-appropriate. Don’t pretend it's not happening. Keep information simple for young children and more detailed for older children.
  2. Keep children calm. Find out what they know and correct any misinformation they may have heard. Remind them that while they might catch the virus, it is unlikely to make them very sick, and most people will recover fully.
  3. Remain calm. Get your information from trusted sources and treat information from social media with caution. Seek advice and do not involve children in problems they cannot solve.
  4. Encourage positive action. Empower children to help stop the spread by teaching them handwashing skills and cough/sneeze etiquette; and reminding them to eat healthily, exercise daily and sleep well. Teach older children media literacy so they can find reputable sources of information.
  5. Scaffold their disappointment. Talk honestly about events they were looking forward to. Look at it as an opportunity to build resilience and teach children that life can be disappointing sometimes but we can help each other through it. Explain that good times will come again.
  6. Be on alert for highly anxious or unusual behaviour. Children may display this by, for example, having trouble sleeping, losing their appetite or over-eating, clingy behaviour, sore tummy or other physical symptoms, difficulty concentrating, irritability, or social withdrawal. If you have any concerns about changes in a child’s behaviour, set up a time to speak with their parents or family.

The following tips from an article for parents and carers on The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne website are also relevant for educators and staff.

What to do to when supporting children

  • Talk about coronavirus.
  • Be honest, but age-appropriate
  • Stay positive and hopeful.
  • Limit information children get through the media.
  • Focus on things children can control.
  • Stick to routines where possible.
  • Show children you are calm.
  • Look out for signs of anxiety or stress in children.
  • Look after yourself too.

Points to remember

  • Children look to adults as a guide on how to react in stressful situations.
  • Stay calm, positive and hopeful when talking with children about coronavirus.
  • Keep information clear, honest and age-appropriate.
  • Limit media exposure about coronavirus.
  • Give children practical things to do such as keeping good hand hygiene to help them feel in control.
  • Make sure children stay physically active.
  • If a child is feeling overwhelmed or stressed speak to their parents or family and suggest they make a time to see their GP.
  • Try to make time to answer children’s questions and keep communication channels open.

How to talk to children who are worried or disappointed

It is normal for children to worry about themselves or their families and friends, and to be disappointed they can’t carry on with regular activities or participate in events they were looking forward to.

Raising Children Network has suggestions on what caregivers can say to children to share their feelings and how they are coping including:

  • It can be scary not knowing what is going to happen with the virus. Scientists all over the world are working hard to find a vaccine and treatment. In Australia, we have good hospitals, doctors and nurses who can look after us.
  • It is OK to be worried about catching coronavirus. I sometimes worry too. Some people are only getting minor symptoms like what you get when you have a cold. If I need some good information, I look at the health department website.

More information:

Queensland Kindergarten Funding Scheme and early childhood teachers

Kindergarten program providers

If a service has received advice from Queensland Health to close due to coronavirus, the service must provide this advice in writing to the department.

Once this advice is accepted the service will continue to receive QKFS payments.

Qualification requirements and ratios during staff absences

Regulated services

If services cannot comply with legislative requirements for staff qualifications or staff ratios because of the impact of the COVID-19 virus on their workforce, they should seek a temporary waiver.

Please note: allowable absences of an Early Childhood Teacher because of illness are set out in the National Regulations—this may mean you are able to continue operating without a waiver.

In these cases approved providers will need to provide documented evidence of how they intend to manage risk if a waiver is granted.

The department (as the Queensland Early Childhood Regulatory Authority) will always consider the health, safety and wellbeing of children as a primary objective when considering any application for a waiver.

If the spread of COVID-19 escalates, the department will provide updated advice about seeking waivers.

Assessment and rating process

Regulatory service visits have recommenced

The department (as the Queensland Early Childhood Regulatory Authority) has recommenced in-person monitoring, assessment and rating visits to education and care (ECEC) services from Monday 22 June.

Queensland Health advice indicates such visits can occur unless the service has reported a specific COVID-19 risk.

The safety, health and wellbeing of children and staff is the Regulatory Authority’s primary concern.

Authorised officers will conduct visits according to Queensland Health protocols, and follow Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Safe Work Australia guidance on hygiene and physical distancing of adults.

Before any visit, authorised officers will contact approved providers about the steps they will take to meet these protocols and will ask about any specific procedures that apply in the service. 

During the monitoring, assessment and rating process, authorised officers will take into consideration that services may look different after implementing hygiene and social distancing practices. 

The Regulatory Authority will continue to take proportionate compliance action to manage risk to children and address breaches of the National Law and National Regulations.

As many services are still significantly affected by the pandemic and not displaying typical practice, an authorised officer will contact approved providers to discuss appropriate timing for the visit.  

If you have any concerns about a visit or need to notify the Regulatory Authority of any changes in circumstance that could affect the visit, please contact your authorised officer as soon as possible.

Renewing first-aid qualifications

Some services are experiencing difficulties in arranging for staff to undertake the necessary first aid, emergency asthma management and anaphylaxis management training in the current environment. Read more about the requirements for centre-based and family day care services under the National Law.

You are encouraged to network about best practice and to discuss this at team meetings.

The Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) approves and publishes a list of courses in first-aid, anaphylaxis management and emergency asthma management. Read ACECQA's approved qualifications list.

Note: Only these approved courses will meet the prescribed requirements under the National Law.

While some courses such as anaphylaxis e-training may be completed online, the Australian Skills Quality Authority confirms that first-aid related units have a practical component that must be assessed in person.

Some aspects of asthma training may be completed online. However, a face-to-face assessment is required for administration of adrenaline autoinjector devices.

It is expected that the Approved Provider will try all available options to meet the requirements, for example, online training.

However, if educators are unable to complete approved courses in emergency asthma management training or first-aid, the Approved Provider may consider an application for a temporary waiver.

Please note the requirements of Regulation 136 cannot be waived permanently.

Approved providers can submit applications online through the NQA ITS.

For more information about applying for a waiver, visit the ACECQA website.

The Regulatory Authority will make all attempts to process applications in a timely way given current resource demands.

Approved providers must ensure that they act proactively to identify the need for waivers and apply well in advance.

Health and wellbeing training (including COVID-19)

Health, hygiene and wellbeing

This online course on the Early Years Health and Development portal will help build your knowledge and understanding of a range of topics including infection control, hygiene practices and social and emotional wellbeing.

COVID-19 infection control training

The Australian Government Department of Health has developed an online infection control training module that covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19.

The non-compulsory module contains information including:

  • COVID-19—what is it?
  • signs and symptoms
  • keeping safe—protecting yourself and others
  • myth busting.
Online professional learning
Social media resources for services

It’s important to give accurate and timely information as we work together in response to the quickly evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Social Buzz is the department’s new early childhood newsletter containing social media posts you may wish to post via your own social media channels.

Below are links to editions of Social Buzz, containing posts with helpful information to share with staff and families during this challenging time.

Sign up if you are a communication or marketing officer for your service and would like to receive future editions of Social Buzz.

More information

These sites and resources are progressively updated and it is important to remain up to date with the latest information:

PublishingPageContent

Special broadcasts

31 July 2020: COVID-19 update
Over the past few days there has been an increase in media coverage about the latest COVID-19 health alerts that may be causing increased anxiety across your community.

1 June 2020: Ensuring safe environments in early childhood - social distancing update
Two important updates from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Safe Work Australia clarify expectations in relation to social distancing in early childhood education and care services.

22 May 2020: Kindy Counts. Let's reconnect
Support a successful transition back to kindergarten following the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Practical Toolkit for Early Childhood Educators.

1 May 2020: Flu vaccination, maximising and prioritising care, cybersafety and reading@home TV
As flu season starts in Queensland, it is timely to encourage teachers, educators, staff and families to have an influenza (flu) vaccination.

24 April 2020: Earlylearning@home—supporting children’s continued learning and development
Earlylearning@home provides a range of fun and interesting activities, resources and advice to help families nurture their child’s development and wellbeing while they are at home.

23 April 2020: COVID-19 update on ongoing and safe service operation
During COVID-19 long day care, family day care and outside school hours care services are open and operating to provide education and care to their children and families.

15 April 2020: Tips for helping children to cope during COVID-19
As frontline workers, approved providers, and staff and educators are working hard to protect their communities and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Health and safety are always priorities but educators and staff should also take into account children's social and emotional wellbeing.

14 April 2020: Ensuring safe environments in early childhood
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advised on 3 April 2020 that early childhood education and care (ECEC) services are essential services, and should continue to operate with appropriate risk mitigation strategies.

26 March 2020: COVID-19 update—Student free days at schools next week
The Queensland Government announced today that all Queensland schools will commence student free days from next Monday 30 March 2020 to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

25 March 2020: COVID-19 update for Early Years Services
The Department of Education continues to take the advice of health authorities nationally and in Queensland on managing this fast-moving and complex health issue.

20 March 2020: COVID-19 update for Early childhood services
The Department of Education continues to take the advice of health authorities nationally and in Queensland on managing this fast-moving and complex health issue.

17 March 2020: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and your service's operation
COVID-19 has the potential to disrupt the operation of educational facilities including early childhood education and care services and school.

12 March 2020: COVID-19 update on travel restrictions—Italy
The Australian Government has added Italy to the list of travel restrictions, alongside China, Iran and South Korea.

WebPartZone1_2

COVID-19 e-Bulletins

WebPartZone2_1
WebPartZone2_2
WebPartZone2_3
WebPartZone3_1
WebPartZone3_2
WebPartZone3_3
WebPartZone3_4
WebPartZone4_1
WebPartZone5_1
WebPartZone5_2
WebPartZone6_1
WebPartZone6_2
WebPartZone7_1
WebPartZone7_2
WebPartZone8_1
WebPartZone8_2
WebPartZone9_1
Last updated 04 September 2020