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COVID-19 service information

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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.

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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 18 March.

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:

Outside school hours care services

If a state school closes due 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.

To locate your nearest OSHC and find out about vacancies, visit the Starting Blocks website.

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.

Health, hygiene and wellbeing

All services

Thank you for the steps you and your staff are taking to support this significant public health effort. Please continue to remind children and families of the importance of effective hygiene practices.

Managing infection control in early childhood services is always challenging. As at 3 April 2020, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPCC) has recommended the following risk mitigation measures:

AHPPC considers Early Childhood Learning Centre (ECLC) are essential services and should continue at this time, but with risk mitigation measures in place. These should include:

  • exclusion of unwell staff, children and visitors
  • reduce mixing of children by separating cohorts (including the staggering of meal and play times)
  • enhanced personal hygiene for children, staff and parents
    • make sure liquid soap and running water, or alcohol-based hand sanitiser is available at the entrance of the facility and throughout
  • full adherence to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) childcare cleaning guidelines, in addition:
    • clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least daily (e.g. play gyms, tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
    • wash and launder play items and toys including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely
  • excursions other than to local parks should be discouraged, public playground equipment should not be used
  • influenza vaccination for children, staff and parents.

Alternative care arrangements should be considered for those children highly vulnerable to adverse outcomes should they be infected with COVID-19. AHPPC recommends parents seek medical advice for these children.

Existing practices should continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and include:

  • ensuring sick children, staff and visitors stay at home if unwell and seek medical advice from a GP or by phoning 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84)
  • checking with family members for any changes in a child’s health, particularly signs of fever, cough or shortness of breath
  • doing the COVID-19 quiz for advice on what to consider and what to do
  • regularly monitoring all children and staff throughout the day for any symptoms
  • considering children with medical conditions and reviewing minimisation plans in case additional precautionary actions are needed
  • ensuring that staff, families and children who are self-quarantining for 14 days after returning to Queensland from overseas or interstate do not attend the service
  • staggering meal and play times and avoiding transition activities such as queuing
  • planning for experiences that avoid mixing groups of children
  • using the service’s outdoor areas more regularly wherever possible
  • promoting a regular and rigorous handwashing schedule including additionally sanitising hands whenever entering and leaving the service
  • cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces regularly
  • promoting strict hygiene when preparing food
  • encouraging practices such as covering coughs and sneezes, not touching the face, and ensuring tissues are safely disposed of
  • using a familiar song or rhyme to support children to hand wash for the prescribed length of time
  • considering opening the windows and adjusting air conditioning to maximise ventilation.

For the latest advice, please refer to the Australian Government's guide for protecting others and stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Wellbeing and social distancing

It is important to consider that children may be anxious and need comfort from educators. Ensure social distancing when appropriate but always consider children’s wellbeing first. Read more on the be you website.

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

Temporary cessation of non-essential regulatory visits

The department (as the Queensland Early Childhood Regulatory Authority) has reduced non-essential visits to education and care (ECEC) services from Monday 23 March.

This includes new assessment and rating (A&R) visits, which have ceased for the immediate future, and compliance visits.

The department will reduce monitoring visits and focus on those necessary to respond to the potential risk to children resulting from serious incident notifications or complaints.

Where these methods are inadequate to effectively manage the potential risk to children, they will schedule a visit to the service.

Services will receive advance notice and authorised officers and will conduct the visit according to Queensland Health protocols. The visit will not go ahead if the service has reported a COVID-19 risk.

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

Authorised officers remain focused on supporting effective practices and risk management in services during the current public health emergency and will provide support via phone, email and Skype.

Remember to use the Emergency Closures Portal if your service needs to close due to COVID-19 and include the reason for the closure in the comments box.

Please contact your local regional office directly if you have any questions or concerns or need advice on managing risk within your service.

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.

Training

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.
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Last updated 08 April 2020