CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) MANAGEMENT POLICY
COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that was originally identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO), has declared that COVID-19 outbreak as a ‘pandemic’- a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (effective 11 March 2020). This is mainly due to the speed and scale of transmission of the virus in countries around the world, including Australia.
COVID-19 is transmitted from someone who is infected with the virus to others in close contact through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing or by contact with contaminated hands or surfaces. According to Department of Health, the time of exposure to the virus and when symptoms first occur is anywhere from 2-14 days.
Symptoms can range from a mild illness, similar to a cold or flu, to pneumonia. People with COVID-19 may experience:
- flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
- shortness of breath
The Australian Government is constantly updating the current status of COVID-19 including health recommendations, travel restrictions, and a vast collection of resources and information to help people make informed decisions.
As this information is changing rapidly, our Service is monitoring health alerts and implementing measures suggested by key health experts to minimise the transmission of COVID-19.
Our Service has a range of comprehensive policies in place to guide best practice in relation to health and safety, dealing with infectious diseases and maintaining a child safe environment. Our duty of care and responsibilities to children, parents, families and all staff to provide a safe environment is of utmost importance.
The evolving nature of COVID-19 and the unprecedented steps required to protect our community as recommended by the Australian Government, has resulted in the development of a specific policy to assist our Service to manage this pandemic.
This policy will change as required to ensure the protective measures against COVID-19 as advised by our Government are implemented by our Service.
NATIONAL QUALITY STANDARD (NQS)
|QUALITY AREA 2: CHILDREN’S HEALTH AND SAFETY|
|2.1.1||Wellbeing and comfort||Each child’s wellbeing and comfort is provided for, including appropriate opportunities to meet each child’s needs for sleep, rest and relaxation.|
|2.1.2||Health practices and procedures||Effective illness and injury management and hygiene practices are promoted and implemented.|
|2.2||Safety||Each child is protected.|
|EDUCATION AND CARE SERVICES NATIONAL REGULATIONS|
|77||Health, hygiene and safe food practices|
|85||Incident, injury, trauma and illness policies and procedures|
|86||Notification to parents of incident, injury, trauma and illness|
|87||Incident, injury, trauma and illness record|
|90||Medical conditions policy|
|93||Administration of medication|
|162||Health information to be kept in enrolment record|
|168||Education and care service must have policies and procedures|
Our Service will minimise our staff and children’s exposure to COVID-19 by adhering to all recommended guidelines from the Australian Government- Department of Health and local Public Health Units to slow the spread of the virus. We will implement practices that help to reduce the transmission of the virus including the exclusion of any person (child, educator, staff, parent, visitor or volunteer) that is suspected or has tested positive to having COVID-19. Our Service will implement effective hygiene practices as per our existing policies and procedures.
Our Service will provide up-to-date information and advice to parents, families and educators sourced from the Australian Government, Department of Health and state Ministry of Health about COVID-19 as it becomes available. Recommendations and health measures mandated by the Health Department will be strictly adhered to at all times.
This policy applies to children, families, staff, management, and visitors of the Service.
Our Service is committed to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus by implementing recommendations provided by the Australian Government- Department of Health and Safe Work Australia.
Our Service implements procedures as stated in the Staying healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (Fifth Edition) developed by the Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council as part of our day-to-day operation of the Service.
We are guided by explicit decisions regarding exclusion periods and notification of any infectious disease by the Australian Government- Department of Health and local Public Health Units in our jurisdiction under the Public Health Act. COVID-19 is a notifiable condition in all states and territories of Australia.
In the event of any child, educator, staff member or visitor attending our Service who is suspected or confirmed to have the infection, the Approved Provider will contact their Public Health Unit.
|National Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Information Line|
|1800 020 080
Call 131 450 for translating and interpreting service
1800 022 222
|Public Health Unit- Local state and territory health departments|
This policy must be read in conjunction with our other Service policies:
- Sick Children Policy
- Incident, Illness, Accident and Trauma Policy and
- Medical Conditions Policy
- Handwashing Policy
- Health and Safety Policy
- Payment of Fees Policy
Minimising the transmission of COVID-19
Our Service has implemented risk management planning to identify any possible risks and hazards to our learning environment and practices. Where possible, we have eliminated or minimised these risks as is reasonably practicable.
Effective 15 March 2020, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has made recommendations to the general public to help manage the spread of COVID-19. These measures include implementing good hygiene, self-isolation and social distancing.
Whilst there is no vaccination for COVID-19, we strongly recommend that all staff, children and families receive the seasonal influenza vaccination.
Our Service will ensure signs and posters remind employees and visitors of the risks of COVI19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread including hand washing and hand rub procedures and information about COVID-19. These will also be communicated to families through email, newsletters and social media. Alcohol-based hand santiser will be kept out of reach of young children and only available for adults to use. If parents decide to apply this to their child, they must supervise the child to avoid rubbing it into their eyes or a child swallowing the gel/liquid. Our Service will supply disposable tissues and have bins available with plastic liners available in several locations for disposing used items.
Information provided to families may include:
- symptoms of COVID-19
- transmission of the virus
- self-isolation and exclusion
- prevention strategies- including hand hygiene and self-isolation
- contact details for health assistance
- updated information about temporary changes to Payment of Fees policy
The Approved Provider, Nominated Supervisor, educators, staff, families and visitors will comply with the following:
Exclusion/ Self-isolation/ Self-quarantine
- effective 28 March 2020, any person entering Australia from any destination will be required to undertake 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (Australian Government)
- any person who has been in close contact with someone who has a positive diagnosis must self-isolate for 14 days
- household members of a person who has a confirmed case (including children) of COVID-19 must also be isolated from the childcare Service and general public
- the Public Health Unit will provide further information on a case-by-case basis as to the length and place of isolation. (see: COVID-19 self isolation)
- families must immediately advise the Service if they, or anyone in their family, develops any symptoms of the virus or receives a positive result of the virus whilst in isolation
- any person (employee, enrolled child, parent, caregiver, visitor or contractor) who is displaying symptoms such as: fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath, must seek urgent medical attention to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19 and not attend our Service under any circumstance
Implement effective hygiene measures
The national campaign Help Stop The Spread and Stay Healthy, launched by the Australian Government has emphasised that effective handwashing is a vital strategy to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds whenever you cough, sneeze or blow your nose, prepare food or eat, touch your face or use the toilet is recommended.
Our Service will adhere to National Regulation requirements and Government guidelines to ensure all educators, children, families and visitors to the Service implement best practice.
Our Service will ensure:
- all employees, parents, children and visitors must wash their hands with soap and water or use the alcohol-based hand santiser provided upon arrival to the Service
- hands must be thoroughly dried using disposal paper and disposed of in the bin provided
- disposable tissues must be used to wipe noses, eyes or mouths and disposed of in the bin provided immediately after use
- hands must be washed following the use of tissues
- hands must be washed thoroughly using soap and water before and after using the toilet
- cough and sneeze etiquette must be used- cover your cough and sneeze with your hand or elbow
- educators and staff must adhere to our Handwashing Policy at all times
- children are supervised when washing hands
- educators and staff must adhere to effective food preparation and food handling procedures
- educators will wash their hands or use alcohol based santiser, before wearing gloves and wash their hands after wearing gloves
- educators and staff must adhere to our Health and Safety Policy for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment (such as toys, puzzles, outdoor toys, bedding, playdough etc) as per Staying healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services recommendations
- staff will maintain a cleaning register of all surfaces and equipment conducted
- equipment, resources and surfaces including high-touch surfaces- taps, door handles, light switches, nappy change areas and toys will be cleaned more frequently as required using detergent and water followed by disinfectant
- cleaning contractors hygienically clean the Service to ensure risk of contamination is removed as per Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Principles for COVID-19
- washroom facilities for employees have adequate supplies of soap, toilet paper and alcohol-based sanitiser
NOTE: According to the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 may survive on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. (March 14 2020)
Social/Physical distancing in childcare
Social or physical distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely spread from person-to-person through close contact with a person while they are infectious, close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes or from touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection and then touching your nose or mouth. (source: Australian Government Department of Health. Coronavirus disease)
Social or physical distancing in early childhood education and care is not feasible for educators to perform their job, however we will implement measures to minimise the risk of exposure as reasonably practicable. Guidelines have been developed according to Safe Work Australia- Early childhood education and care workers: Minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 parents are reminded of the following:
- if your child is sick, do not send them to our Service
- do not visit our Service if you or another family member is unwell
- sanitise your hands at regular intervals throughout the day
- avoid physical contact with other people who may be sick- such as older people and people with existing health conditions
- clean and disinfect high touch surfaces regularly (door handles, car seats, mobile phone, toys, dummies)
- promote strictest hygiene measures when preparing food at home and at the Service
To minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 our Service will:
- restrict the number of visitors to our Service (including students, delivery of goods)
- reduce mixing of children by separating cohorts (including staggering meals and play times)
- where possible, outdoor play will be promoted within our Service to provide children with additional personal space
- large groups will be monitored to provide flexible learning to ensure groups are smaller in both the indoor and outdoor environment
- increase ventilation within the Service
- ensure cots, mats, cushions etc are positioned at least 1.5 metres apart
- seat children at opposite ends of a table when playing and eating
- avoid any situation when children are required to queue- waiting their turn to use bathroom for handwashing or toileting, waiting their turn to use a piece of equipment etc.
- contact parents of children who have chronic medical conditions or immunosuppression as they may be at an increased risk of disease and require additional support/care
- cancel all group outings to public places (excursions to local shops, schools, libraries, aged care facilities)
- cancel large group celebrations (Grandparent’s Day, special day celebrations- Mother’s Day)
- discourage use of public transport by staff if possible and recommend that staff:
- travel directly from home to work (avoid stopping at shops or petrol station)
- wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or sanitise hands with alcohol-based sanitiser before and after travelling to work
- if using public transport, maintain physical distancing measures during any trip
Suspected cases of COVID-19 at our Service
As per our Sick Child Policy we reserve the right to refuse a child into care if they:
- are unwell and unable to participate in normal activities or require additional attention
- have had a temperature/fever, or vomiting in the last 24 hours
- have had diarrhoea in the last 48 hours
- have been given medication for a temperature prior to arriving at the Service
- have started a course of anti-biotics in the last 24 hours or
- if we have reasonable grounds to believe that a child has a contagious or infectious disease (this includes COVID-19)
If your child becomes ill whilst at the Service, educators/staff will respond to their individual symptoms of illness and provide comfort and care.
Educators will take your child’s temperature. If the temperature is above 38°C you will be contacted immediately and required to collect your child within 30 minutes. If you are unable to collect your child, an emergency contact person will be contacted, and they must collect your child within 30 minutes.
Educators will attempt to lower your child’s temperature by:
- removing excessive clothing (shoes, socks, jumpers)
- encourage your child to take small sips of water
- move your child to a quiet area where they can rest whilst being supervised
Educators will wear disposable gloves and a face mask to avoid possible contamination.
Educators will keep accurate records of the child’s temperature, time taken, time parent/s were contacted, staff member’s name and time of collection.
All information will be recorded in our Incident, Illness, Accident and Trauma Record. Parents will be required to sign this record upon collection of their child.
Parents are reminded to ensure their contact details are current and emergency contact details are updated if required.
Our Service also reserves the right to prevent employees, parents, family members or visitors to enter our premises if the Approved Provider or Nominated Supervisor suspects instances of COVID-19.
The Approved Provider or Nominated Supervisor is mandated by law to notify the Public Health Unit or Health Information hotline on 1800 020 080 of any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. In addition, the Approved Provider must also notify the Regulatory Authority in their state or territory within 24 hours.
Management reserves the right to request employees to self-isolate if they suspect they have come into contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 infection.
Talking to children about COVID-19
As per our Interactions with Children, Families and Staff Policy, our Service is committed to maintaining positive interactions and relationships with children and their families. Information provided to children about COVID-19 will be age appropriate and sensitive to their emotional wellbeing. Educators will both acknowledge children’s concerns and be open to discussions about COVID-19.
Educators will inform children about the virus and emphasise preventative measures such as handwashing, use of tissues, cough and sneeze techniques and limiting touching other children’s faces.
Posters to demonstrate correct handwashing methods will be referred to and educators will model techniques.
Children’s emotional well-being will be closely monitored by all educators and staff and any concerns communicated with parents and families.
Children’s questions will be respected and supported.
In the event of the Service being closed as a precaution to limit the spread of the virus, information will be provided to parents/families to help explain the situation to young children.
Payment of Fees
The new Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package effective 6 April 2020 will replace the Child Care Subsidy and the Additional Child Care Subsidy. This is effective until the week ending 28 June 2020.
No fees will be charged to families during this time. Our Service will waive any gap fees that are due from 23 March to 5 April 2020.
Attendance information of children who attend our Service will be recorded each day. Families will be provided with a statement of sessions attended.
Placements will be prioritised to provide care of essential workers, vulnerable and disadvantaged children and previously enrolled children.
Families receiving Additional Child Care Subsidy
If a family’s current ACCS determination continues past the end of the above package period, they will return to ACCS entitlement. If however, this determination expires during the period, our service will need to apply for determination to ensure ACCS continues to flow when the system return to normal ie: Child Care Subsidy.
Absences from childcare
Whether a child is ill or not and does not attend care as part of the family’s own precautionary measure against potential contact with COVID-19, families have access to 62 allowable absences in the 2019-2020 financial year, rather than the 42 allowable absence days without the need for families to provide documentation such as a medical certificate.
Absences will not be counted during the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package period. (commencing 6 April 2020). If a child is absent on their last day of enrolment in the period between 23 March and 28 Jun 2020, any CCS received by the Service will not be recovered.
What happens if our Service is forced to close?
The decision to close our Service will be made, and advised, by relevant state and territory governments or the Regulatory Authority. This may be due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our Service community.
Should this occur, all families will be notified immediately via email and/or phone.
Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payment will still be paid in the event of a forced closure.
Services must stay open, with at least one active enrolment, to receive payment.
Effective 3 April, 2020 Services can no longer apply to Community Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) special circumstances grant opportunity for additional assistance.
If a service decides to close, and it has not been directed to do so for a valid health and safety reasons, no payment will be payable.
Staff entitlements if sick or suspected to have COVID-19
Under workplace health and safety laws, our Service must ensure the health and safety of all employees.
If an educator or staff member is confirmed to have COVID-19, they are unable to attend the workplace and cannot return to work until they have completed a period of self-isolation of at least 14 days. Employees must make a declaration that they are fit for work and have no symptoms of COVID-19 and have been advises they no longer need to be in isolation from their doctor or public health unit. (updated 3 April)
Full and part-time employees who cannot attend work due to illness can take paid sick leave.
Caring for a family member or emergency
If an employee cannot attend work due to caring for a family member due to COVID-19, they are entitled to take paid carer’s leave. Casual employees are eligible to have 2 days unpaid carer’s leave per occasion. See Fair Work Act for entitlements for casual, part time and full-time employees. Reasonable evidence is required to justify the absence.
Self-isolation due to travel
As per Australian Government’s new measures for COVID-19 effective 28 March 2020, any person returning from overseas will be mandated to isolate in a designated facility. The employee is not entitled to be paid (unless they use paid leave entitlements- annual leave. Employees are not entitled to use personal sick leave as they are not ‘sick’. Employers may choose to adopt an option to satisfy both parties. See: Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors for further information)
Self-Isolation Unpaid Pandemic Leave
Effective 8 April 2020, employees who are required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities or acting on advice of a medical practitioner may access unpaid pandemic leave. (effective 8 April to 30 June 2020)
This leave provides employees with:
- 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave
- the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.
Self-Isolation directed by Service
Where an employee is directed by the Approved Provider to stay home and self-isolate as they have shown symptoms of a flu-like illness, and the employee is not sick and able to work, our Service will continue to pay the employee as per their contract. The employee will be requested to complete work from home negotiated with the Approved Provider.
Self-isolation as a precaution
If an employee wants to stay home as a precaution of contracting COVID-19 they may negotiate to take unpaid leave, annual leave or long service leave with Management.
Employees who are stuck overseas or in quarantine
If an employee cannot return to Australia due to the COVID-19 virus, they must contact the Approved Provider immediately. Management will negotiate payment considering accrued annual leave, long service leave or leave without pay.
Eligible businesses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) will be able to access a subsidy from the Government to assist in continue in paying employees. Eligible employees are those who:
- are currently employed by the eligible employer (including those stood down or re-hired)
- were employed by the employer at 1 March 2020
- are full-time, part-time or long-term casuals (employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March 2020)
- are sole traders
- are at least 16 years of age
- are an Australian citizen, permanent visa holder or a Special Category (subclass 444) visa holder
- are not in receipt of a JobKeeper payment from another employer.
Further information about JobKeeper, tax and superannuation will be discussed with each individual employee.
If applicable, employees who have been stood down before the commencement of this scheme, may be able to be reengaged. The Approved Provider will discuss options individually with involved staff members.
Employees Entitlements- Fair Work Commission
The Approved Provider will explore options for staffing and flexible work arrangements with individual employees. Any direction must be from consultation with the employee and at least three (3) days provided before any change is implemented.
Arrangements may include reduction in hours, employees to take annual leave or other leave entitlements or changes to rostering and duties.
Employees may be requested to complete activities such as:
- professional development learning
- programming and documentation- updating Medical Plans, registers etc
- updating the Quality Improvement Plan
- conducting cleaning within the service and room preparation
- completing any maintenance required as per risk assessments
- development of online activities for children- Zoom, You Tube account
The Approved Provider must obtain written consent by the employees of any changes in their work conditions.
In the event of staff members requiring to self-isolate due to possible infection of COVID-19, the Approved Provider will apply to the Regulatory Authority for waivers for qualifications and/or ratios to minimise disruptions to our provision of care.
Communicating with families
Our Service will establish continue regular communication channels with families and share information about COVID-19 as required.
Due to the fluid nature of COVID-19 and the necessity of self-isolation for some staff members, our Service will endeavour to inform parents and families of any staff changes on a daily basis.
Staff who have approved leave will be replaced with casual staff and families will be informed as per our usual practices to ensure continuity of care where possible.
Caring for our community
We understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 and the constant amount of information received through the media may be very stressful to young children and parents. The anxiety about this disease may be overwhelming and cause fear and anxiety to some people, especially children.
Our Service is committed to continue to provide quality education and care to all children and support families responsibly during this unprecedented challenge with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Knowing how to look after yourself, and others is very important during this crisis.
We will promote a safe and supportive environment by:
- reassuring children they are safe
- acknowledging and listening to children’s questions
- promoting and implementing hygiene routines for handwashing and cough and sneezing
- keeping regular and familiar routines within our Service
- ensuring children eat well throughout the day
- engaging children in play, games and other physical activities
- being alert to children’s level of anxiety and provide quiet and relaxing activities
- ensuring children are provided with rest and sleep when needed
- providing information to families and support services as required
Dr Michelle Dickinson– Video for kids about COVID-19
Emerging Minds– Talking to Children about Natural Disasters, Traumatic Events or Worries About the Future
Play School– Hello Friends! (A COVID-19 Special)
The information contained in this ‘draft’ policy is based on current information from the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government Department of Health, Australian Government- The Treasury, Family Assistance Law and Fairwork Ombudsmen. (5 April 2020).
Eligibility for JobKeeper payments and information about the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package is based on documents provided by DESE. Some services may not have experienced a reduction in enrolment and are able to apply for a higher rate of payment under the relief package through an online submission. In this instance, amendments to this ‘draft’ policy must be made to suit your service. https://www.dese.gov.au/covid-19/childcare/childcare-faq
Services are requested to check with the ATO and their financial advisors or accountants for more detailed information and advice.
More information and resources
Australian Government Department of Education Skills and Employment- Coronavirus (COV-19) information sheet regarding periods of local emergency and absences for child care providers and services
Australian Government Department of Education Skills and Employment Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for early childhood education and care providers and services from 6 April 2020
Australian Government The Treasury JobKeeper payment
CCS Helpdesk 1300 667 276
Posters and Visuals
State and Territory specific information
Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority. (2014).
Australian Government Department of Health Health Topics Health Topics Coronavirus COVID-19
Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for travellers https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covid-19-infection-control-training
Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws (updated 13 March 2020) https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws
Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment Information for child care providers and services https://docs-edu.govcms.gov.au/node/53362
Australian Government Federal Register of Legislation Child Care Subsidy Amendment (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) 23 March 2020 https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2020L00295?utm_source=Facebook&utm_content=240320
Australian Government The Treasury JobKeeper payment
Fair Work Ombudsman Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws (2020) https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws
Guide to the Education and Care Services National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations.
Guide to the National Quality Standard. (2020)
National Health and Medical Research Council. (2012). Staying healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early
childhood education and care services.
Public Health Act 2010
Public Health Amendment Act 2017
Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 Victoria
The Australian Parenting website Raisingchildren https://raisingchildren.net.au/guides/a-z-health-reference/coronavirus-and-children-in-australia
Revised National Quality Standard. (2018).
Safe Work Australia (2020) Early childhood education and care workers: Minimising the risk of exposure to COVID-19
|POLICY REVIEWED||April 2020||NEXT REVIEW DATE||June 2020|
|• Additional information for JobKeeper- nomination acceptance form
• Fair Work Australia laws- direction to perform different duties
• Self-isolation and Pandemic leave
• Additional information regarding children ‘at risk’ notification
• Additional resources added as highlighted
|• Major changes to Payment of fees related to CCS and ACCS
• introduction of Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments (effective 6 April)
• introduction of JobKeeper Payments
• removal of ‘stand down’ information
• addition of Safe Work Australia suggestions
• amendment to return to work requirements for positive COVID-19 employees requiring a medical certificate
• additional information about staff travel to and from work
|• changes to reflect changes in periods of local emergency and absences
• new isolation restrictions for people travelling interstate
• small edits to leave entitlements for staff
• Fair Work information added- employee entitlements, stand down
|• updated effective 24 March 2020
• changes due to Ministerial update re: increase in absences for children to receive CCS payments and CCS payments if services are forced to close
• new information for CCCF funding for COVID-19
• modification to staff requested to be isolated from Service due to flu-like symptoms
• modifications of entitlements relating to sick pay if employees are forced to be self-isolated
• additional resources for state/territory specific information
|16 March 2020||• original policy drafted|