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COVID-19 Updates

Playschool Group’s COVID-19 Safe Operating and Hygiene Guidelines for Home-Based Education

 In order to ensure the safety of our families, children, and educators, we will be operating and recommending the best health and safety measures as recommended by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Health is the lead organisation and The Ministry of Education is the second lead agency. Playschool Group will follow all Ministry of Health and Education advice and directives. 

This remains a challenging situation for all of us – so we are incredibly grateful for your ongoing support and understanding during this time plus knowing you are doing everything to help New Zealand overcome this crisis. 

For further information please refer to this website around Alert Level 3 – https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/ 

You can also call the free government helpline on 0800 779 997 (8am – 1am, 7 days a week). 

Level 3 COVID-19 Alert starts at 11:59pm on April 27th and will continue for 2 weeks. Government will then make further decisions on the 11th of May regarding moving the Alert Level.

What does this mean?
At Alert Level 3 we will need to be even more vigilant. All of us will need to unite against COVID-19 by sticking to the rules. 

Top Rules to Follow During This Time

Child Care Rules:

  • Children should only be part of one early learning bubble. This means if a child usually attends a combination of Playschool Services and Kindergarten/Preschool, then parents/caregivers must select one option only for physical attendance during Alert Level 3. Please see this webpage for more information – https://covid19.govt.nz/individuals-and-households/parents-caregivers-whanau-and-teachers/childcare/#childcare-for-children-aged-0-to-14-at-alert-level-3 
  • Keep your bubble as small as possible. Opportunity to expand is available but ONLY for close family, isolated people, or caregivers. If you have a child, children or an educator joining ‘your’ bubble in Level 3 (which is allowed within reason) then you need to plan how this will work – will the children be dropped to the home or will the educator come to your residence, will you have a drop spot, what will the ‘before entering the home’ routine be i.e. washing hands straight away, taking coat off and hanging outside, etc. Most importantly how will socially distancing work within the home for all the occupants and how will everyone be kept safe. This will be an individual plan that ALL in your bubble will need to know and follow! 
  • Physical distancing is not required within early learning bubbles. It is not possible to adequately care for infants and young children from a distance. There is no requirement within an early learning bubble to physically distance, although it is recommended that separation is encouraged as much as possible through the placement of resources and activities in the home. Good hygiene practices are especially important within bubbles.
  • Each bubble must remain separate from other bubbles and from other individuals in the community. 
  • You must maintain a minimum temperature of 18 degrees during operating hours at Alert Level 3. You should ensure rooms, particularly those where children are sleeping, are well ventilated to keep the temperature at a comfortable level. 
  • Parents are asked to be vigilant about keeping any sick individual isolated as much as possible in the home. If parents, caregivers or educators are sick, they must self-isolate. Any person that becomes unwell must be immediately isolated. If anyone at your service has symptoms of respiratory illness, you should call Healthline for advice. A test for COVID-19 may be suggested as part of efforts to quickly detect and eliminate the virus in the community. 
  • Ensure everyone regularly washes and dries their hands. You should actively encourage everyone to regularly wash their hands, including on arrival to the home, and before and after meals. Regular routines such as washing hands after blowing noses, toileting, or changing nappies should continue to be emphasised. Parents and educators must supervise hand washing at a minimum of before and after eating food and going to the toilet, either through washing hands with soap and water, or use of hand sanitiser according to need. Children who are too young to wash their own hands will need to have this done for them regularly, including after having their nappy changed. 
  • Ensure hand sanitizer is available but adults supervise its location and use. Where soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizers should be provided in every occupied room, and staff and children actively encouraged to use this. Educators should know where the hand sanitizer is available in the home and should supervise its use by children. You must not leave hand sanitizer within reach of children. 
  • Review the items you have out for play and consider removing any that are difficult to clean or monitor hygiene on. 
  • Contact tracing registers must be set up to record who is in the home each day, who visits eg parents. You must record the date, time, name of any person visiting the home child, parent/caregiver, or any visitor) and ensure their phone contact details are included. Your attendance sheets and visitor books could be used for this purpose.  

Examples of visitors:

  1. Parents/caregivers if they enter the home. 
  2. Tradespeople completing essential repairs on the premises 
  3. You must ensure any person (child, parent/caregiver, educator or any visitor) who has flu-like symptoms does not enter the premises or is self-isolating. The Director-General of Health has indicated these are symptoms such as sore throat, cough, sneezing, blocked ears, head cold, fever or body aches. You should actively discourage any person that is at higher risk to COVID-19 from entering the premises.

General Rules

  • Minimize your chances of getting sick – Try to avoid close contact with people – a 2m distance is recommended. This includes personal contact, such as kissing, shared cups or food. If you are going outside to the supermarket then it would be recommended to wear a mask and potentially gloves – this would need to be disposed of before you enter your vehicle or home into a rubbish bag/bin. 
  • Stay Home! Work and Learn from home if possible. Early Learning Centers and Schools will be open for up to Year 10 specifically for families that need them. Be aware it may take longer for some early learning centers and schools to be ready so check this with the ECE service and school directly. All children and young people who can stay at home should stay at home.
  • Stay Regional – you can exercise at parks or benches within your local area. The closer to home the better! Plus remember that all activities must be safe, and you still need to keep 2 meters away from others. Also, prevent the child/ren from touching any surfaces or objects as much as physically possible – we understand this may be difficult for some age groups so consider and carefully manage this before you leave the care environment. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. If you touch your face, then you must wash and dry your hands immediately! 
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds – after you have touched shared surfaces, before eating, after using the toilet, after changing a nappy, when entering the home, after being outside, after coughing and sneezing and after handling items such as groceries, mail etc. and if you touch your face. COVID-19 is likely to survive for hours to days upon surfaces, so it is especially important you wash and dry thoroughly. (Tip – Sing Happy Birthday twice!) We recommend using paper towels for drying your hands alternatively change hand towels regularly. 
  • Cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with tissues, if you do not have a tissue then cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve. Used tissues need to be disposed of appropriately in a rubbish bin. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This should always be readily available and out of reach of children! 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. Remember to leave the disinfectant sitting on the surface for at least 10 seconds before wiping (longer is recommended if possible) so it can be effective. We recommend cleaning and disinfecting items, furniture and anything else in your home that will be touched before and after each use – including taps, door handles, handrails, rubbish bin lids, any items, or toys that the child will touch plus devices. Please make sure the disinfectant you are using is antiviral (and contains hypochlorite which is the main active ingredient in bleach alternatively activated hydrogen peroxide 0.5%) and follow the instructions outlined on the packaging. If preparing a solution for use – do this daily. Open windows and doors to ensure good ventilation and keep out of reach of the child/ren in care. Use a clean cloth or sponge each day washing or soaking in hot/boiled water. Do not use tea towels for cleaning or use cleaning cloths on the floor – we recommend keeping everything separate – pink for toilet, blue for kitchen, etc. For disinfection by immersion (e.g. soaking blocks) a contact time of 30 minutes is recommended. 
  • Wash laundry in warm or hot water. Coldwater will not kill germs. 
  • If you are sick, stay at home and quickly seek advice from your doctor or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 if you have ANY symptoms, have been overseas, and returned within the last 2 weeks or have been in close contact with someone who is a confirmed case. This includes and is very important – if Kaiako is feeling unwell or showing symptoms such as shortness of breath, fever, tiredness, feeling achy, sore throat, or runny/sniffly nose they must not leave home or accept an educator or others into their family home. If you are an Au Pair or family member who lives with the child, you must keep your distance as much as possible. If the child/ren are in care and start to show symptoms, then they must be sent home as soon as possible. One thing to think about is if a member of the family has tested and awaiting results, is positive or simply unwell what will be your measures within the home to distance. We recommend the individual staying in their room, having use of their own bathroom or if not possible they will need to disinfect after each use and they will rely on a buddy within the home who can ‘deliver food and other essentials they may require’.

Preventative management is largely focused on the continued promotion of healthy effective hygiene practices, especially around handwashing, coughing, and sneezing. We all need to do our part but remember:

  • Focus on emotional well-being. Find time to laugh, keep things light and positive. 
  • Enjoy fun low-key activities with your children – reading books, playing games, doing puzzles, drawing, and baking! 
  • Get outside in your backyard and enjoy the fresh air and exercise. 
  • Enjoy the discussions with your child and explain the situation so they can understand and feel involved. 
  • Balance device time with hands on tasks and physical activity. 
  • Find ways for the children to keep in touch with friends and other family members e.g. phone calls, zoom etc. 
  • Reach out if you need to talk! 
  • Please find these websites for fantastic information:

Childrenhttp://education.govt.nz/school/health-safety-and-wellbeing/pastoral-care-and-wellbeing/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-coronavirus/tips-for-teachers-parents-and-caregivers-supporting-children/ 

Toddlershttp://education.govt.nz/school/health-safety-and-wellbeing/pastoral-care-and-wellbeing/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-coronavirus/tips-for-teachers-parents-and-caregivers-supporting-toddlers/ 

Bonus Websitehttps://sparklers.org.nz/parenting/ Sparklers at Home have been funded by the Ministry of Health to enable parents and caregivers, to support the wellbeing of their tamariki while they’re at home. The Sparklers wellbeing toolkit was originally designed for classroom use but has been adapted so parents can use it at home. It is free and contains 23 fun and easy to do wellbeing activities, that parents and caregivers can do with their children in their living room or on their lawn 

Playschool Education and Au Pairs are working hard behind the scenes to keep you updated and aware of the current rules and regulations regarding COVID-19. We will endeavor to maintain and provide high quality and accurate regular communications with parent and whanau community through: 

  1. Email Communication. 
  2. Website Updates. 
  3. Communication through phone/txt/social media. 

Further resources and plans below to use in the home

Families and educators will fill in their own individual plan which outlines the process they will undertake regarding COVID-19 and keeping safe. Visiting teachers and Management will check this via a video conversation and provide guidance where required. 

Families and Educators will fill in the checklist as required understanding all points and implanting the correct processes and procedures. Playschool Education will oversee the completion of this and provide guidance where required 

Please print these resources off – once completed please place in a visible part of the home for all to refer to. 

If you require any assistance with developing and implementing a plan for your family then please get in touch and we will be able to help you. Also, keep an eye on our website under the NEWS tab plus your emails for regular updates that you need to know about.