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COVID-19 Updates

Playschool Group’s COVID-19 Guidelines – Level 2

COVID-19 Level 2 starts from 11.59pm on Wednesday 13th May. The New Zealand Government will review Alert Level 2 restrictions on Monday 25 May.

What this means:

Will home-based Visiting Teachers be able to transition to face-to-face visits?
As a transitional arrangement, monthly visit requirements for May can continue to be met by using online methods, or by a face-to-face visit. This is because some May visits will have already taken place or be scheduled to take place using video-calling technology.  We are also aware that some families will initially require more support to be confident to accept additional people into their homes.  We expect that people’s comfort levels will build as people become more familiar with operating at Alert Level 2. From June, in-person visits are required.

Kia ora koutou

Like us, I am sure you have followed with interest the announcements made by the Prime Minister.

It is reassuring to hear how well our country has done at minimizing the impacts of COVID-19. Alert Levels 4 and 3 have not been easy and we thank you for your ongoing support for the work we are doing.

The Prime Minister advised that in Alert Level 2 early learning services, kōhanga reo, playcentres and playgroups are safe environments for children and staff and that additional public health control measures are put in place to prevent the spread of disease and to support contact tracing.

The key Public Health approach is to minimize the risk that someone gets infected in the first place, and second to ensure we can identify and contact anyone who has been in close contact with a person.

As we have done in Alert Level 3, you can be assured that in Alert Level 2 we will know who is in care, who our staff have been in close contact with and are taking appropriate measures to keep everyone safe.

Physical distancing is a good precaution to prevent the spread of disease. We do, however, know it is near impossible in an early learning homebased environment, so good hygiene practices and regular cleaning are even more important. This includes everyone coughing into their elbows, handwashing and drying and regular cleaning of commonly touched surfaces.

Under Alert Level 2, we are advising our Programme Co-Ordinator’s to stay home if they are sick. This includes you keeping us updated if anyone in your home has been sick. Note: we will need to reschedule your visit if this is the case. It is important that safe hygiene habits are practiced by everyone, as this is essential to minimize the risk that someone gets infected with Covid-19.

Our Programme Co-Ordinator’s will be practicing safe and sensible practices to maintain the health and safety of everyone they visit.  As described by Dr Payinda in his NZ Herald article, “Covid-19 is not measles or chickenpox, it doesn’t hang in the air for hours waiting to infect passers-by. It travels on invisible drops of spit. You do not have to cross the street to avoid anyone. Just avoid getting in their ‘moist breath’ zone”. We all just need to remember to have some breathing space at Alert Level 2!

For more information about the public health measures at Alert Level 2, you can visit the covid19.govt.nz website: https://covid19.govt.nz/

If you have any questions about our health and safety plan or have a child who might be vulnerable to serious illness and would like to discuss a plan for them, please contact your Programme Co-Ordinator.

We will be in touch again soon to book our visits – we look forward to catching up with you in person.

Ngā mihi

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

Key Public Health requirements at Alert Level 2

Key public health measures to be undertaken at Alert Level 2 focus on safe and sensible practice. Because young children require a lot of physical support, good hygiene practices remain central to this. Just as in Alert Level 3, there does not need to be a measurable physical distance between children or between children and staff.  

Ensure all children regularly wash and dry their hands.

  • You should actively encourage children/ tamariki to regularly wash their hands, including before and after meals. The Ministry of Health advise handwashing for at least 20 seconds, and drying hands thoroughly afterwards.  Regular routines such as washing hands after blowing noses, toileting or changing nappies should continue to be emphasized.
  • Educators should direct and 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 sanitizer 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.

Encourage good sneezing and coughing etiquette.

  • Encourage everyone to cough and sneeze into their elbow to catch the droplets and stop them from getting onto hands. Find out more here


Ensure that children have their own food containers and do not give and take food to and from each other. Food can be supplied in accordance with public health guidance.

  • You must ensure there is no sharing of food and drink between children. This includes birthday parties at the service, and candles should not be used.
  • You must ensure drink bottles, baby bottles, crockery and cutlery are not shared between children.
  • If continuing to provide food prepared on the premises, food handlers must adhere to standard good hygiene practices.
  • Adults must follow the same principles and ensure they are not sharing food, crockery or cutlery while having meal breaks.

Upon advice from the local medical officer of health, any home connected to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 must isolate for 72 hours to allow contact tracing, and then potentially for a further 14 days.

  • If there is a confirmed or probable case linked with the home, health authorities will direct you of the next steps.
  • Close contacts will be required to self-isolate and will need to monitor for symptoms. In some situations, health authorities could require isolation for longer periods of time, up to 14 further days. This is likely to be because health authorities consider there could be risk of community transmission or there could be a large number of cases that mean a high proportion of children and staff could be considered close contacts and therefore need to self-isolate.
  • Any child that becomes unwell while in care must be immediately isolated and should seek medical advice about whether a child may need to be tested.
  • If anyone at the home has symptoms of a respiratory illness, you should call Healthline (0800 358 5453) for advice. A test for COVID-19 may be suggested as part of efforts to quickly detect and eliminate the virus in the community.

Close contacts in the home would be anyone who had:

  • Face-to-face contact in any setting within two metres of a case for 15 minutes or more.
  • Having been in a closed environment (e.g. hospital waiting room) within 2m of a case for 15 minutes or more.

Close contacts will be required to self-isolate and will need to monitor for symptoms.

There is information about self-isolation and Factsheets for contacts on the COVID19.govt.nz and Ministry of Health websites.  The Ministry has more information about what to do if you have a confirmed or probable case here.

Contact tracing registers must be in place to record who is in the home each day, who visits e.g. grandparents.

  • You must record the date, time, name of any person who comes into the home (Programme Co-Ordinator, child, parent/caregiver or any visitor) and ensure their phone contact details and physical addresses are included. Your timesheets could be used for this purpose.

Examples of visitors:

  • Family members visiting the home.
  • Tradespeople completing repairs in the home.
  • You must ensure any person (any visitor, tradesperson, extended family) who has flu-like symptoms do not enter the home. 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 consider limiting visitors inside the home where possible to facilitate physical distancing between adults.

Excursions:

  • Excursions are possible during Alert Level 2 providing you can meet the physical distancing requirements under Alert Level 2, that children and staff must maintain a 2m distance from others outside the service.

Children that are enrolled at multiple services:

  • Under Alert Level 2 children can resume their previous attendance at multiple services.
  • Parents need to ensure that enrolment agreements are up to date.

Other key requirements include:

Specific public health measures to be taken:

  • Parents are asked to keep any sick children at home or isolated.
  • Indoor temperature needs to be set at a minimum of 18 degrees Celsius. This minimum must be met.
  • You should ensure rooms, particularly those where children are sleeping, are well ventilated to keep the temperature at a comfortable level.
  • Young children require a lot of physical support and it is not possible to explain or maintain a physical distance between young children given the age of the children. This means good hygiene practices are even more important. There does not need to be a measurable physical distance between children or children and educator.
  • Ensure hand sanitizer is available but educators supervise its location and use.
  • Outdoor play areas can be used, including sandpits.
  • Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily. This includes soft toys and dress-ups, playdough, and finger paint.
  • Toys should be wiped down at the end of each day. Dress ups and other fabric items should be regularly laundered. Any item that has been in children’s mouths should be removed from the play space and thoroughly cleaned.
  • You should consider your procedure for ensuring children wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after playing outside, eating, toileting etc.

Disinfect and clean all surfaces daily.

  • You must ensure you have appropriate cleaning supplies, and these are stored safely out of reach of children.
  • You must ensure thorough cleaning of all surfaces takes place at the end of each operating day as a minimum. In addition, sleep furniture needs to be wiped down daily if shared.
  • Make sure the specific instructions are followed for the disinfectant being used (e.g. spray and leave on surfaces for 30 seconds before wiping down).
  • Ensure the availability of appropriate cleaning supplies (e.g. disinfectant and cloths) for cleaning of high-touch surfaces.  It is recommended that cleaning cloths are disposable.
  • You should develop a routine to disinfect and clean high touch surfaces (e.g. play gyms, tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks) regularly throughout the day. In a space with crawling infants, this will include table legs and items a child uses to pull themselves up to a standing position
  • PPE is not required or recommended, as necessary.

Newsletter – May 2020

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. 

COVID-19 Update

Please find this website as reference for now –https://covid19.govt.nz/alert-system/alert-level-3/

it’s important that you follow the recommendations and regulations made by the New Zealand government plus know the facts! Refer to this website for up to date information www.covid19.govt.nz or call the free government helpline on 0800  779 997 (8am – 1am, 7 days a week).

Protecting yourself and your whaanau

The Ministry of Health lists some simple steps to take to protect yourself & others from COVID-19:

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with tissues, if you don’t have a tissue then cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people – a 2m distance is recommended. This includes personal contact, such as kissing, shared cups or food.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

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.

Level 3 COVID-19 Alert which starts at 11:59pm on April 27th and will continue for 2 weeks, the 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.

Rules to live by during this new lockdown level:

  1. Stay home!
  2. Work and learn from home if possible. Early learning centres and schools will be open for up to Year 10 specifically for families that need them.
  3. Stay Regional – you can exercise at parks or beaches 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 metres away from others.
  4. Keep your bubble as small as possible. Opportunity to expand is available but ONLY for close family, isolated people or caregivers.
  5. Wash your hands often with soap and dry. Cough and sneeze into your elbow.
  6. If you are sick, stay at home and quickly seek advice from your doctor or Healthline about getting a test.

Playschool is open for business as normal. You can stay connected with us through our email updates, phone or text plus through our social channels – Facebook and Instagram. Also don’t hesitate to contact us via phone or email if you have any questions or concerns.

Q & A – COVID-19

Can I drive around as normal now? What about public transport?
No. If you need to drive then it can only be for the supermarket, doctor, childcare centre/ school or the local park (not your favourite one) but keep your outside activities to the minimum. Most important – YOU MUST STAY LOCAL! This is not the time to take a holiday, travel between regions to celebrate birthdays or travel from one side of the city to the other.

Public transport will still be available but will have limited capacity and timetables running.

I would love to go for a swim at my local beach – Is this now allowed?Yes, within reason. You can do low-risk recreation activities in your local area. These include a walk, run, swim at the local beach, a day walk, or fishing from a wharf. Boating, yachting, and team sports or training are not allowed. These activities can only be done by yourself or your bubble.

Will the children go back to school?
Under Alert Level 3 it will be safe for Early Learning and school to be open for children up to Year 10 with the appropriate health measures in place. Where possible, students should remain home and be connected to distance learning.

Home based early learning services such as Playschool Education will resume provided the public health requirements are met.

Play centres and playgroups will remain closed.

My au pair is not following the lockdown rules and/or doesn’t understand them.
You MUST talk to them ASAP. This is a government rule and non-negotiable. Please use this website www.covid19.co.nz as reference – the FAQ page has simple information that all will be able to understand.

I am searching for an Au Pair but with the lockdown what now?
New Zealand has gone into lockdown as of the 25th of March at 11:59pm and there will be no incoming Au Pairs until the current travel restrictions are lifted. We will be proceeding with interviews and placements for July onwards as normal.