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Creating a COVID-19 safe environment

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​​​​On this page​

​​​​​All approved providers and education and care services are required to have a COVID Safe management plan in pla​​​ce to help protect staff, children, families and visitors and to prepare for a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in your service. This plan must demonstrate how the service will meet all requirements set out by the Chief Health Officer.

The General and voluntary COVID​​ Safe checklist (PDF, 463KB) is available on the Queensland Health website. The COVID Safe management plan is available to assist services in developing their plan. Please note this general checklist is for those businesses not required to have a COVID Safe checklist under the Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction.

For further information on employer responsibilities go to Safe Work Australia.

The following information​​​ has been compiled to help services create a unique plan that addresses each service’s operations and its unique environment.

A COVID planning f​​ramework for Education has been developed and includes all sessional kindergartens only. The plan provides a framework to respond to the varying COVID levels. This should be used in conjunction with the COVID Safe management plan.

Note: The information c​​ontained in this page is current as at date of publication.

Excursions an​​d incu​rsions

Approved providers of early chil​​dhood education and care services are responsible for deciding when to take children and host visitors on excursion. When conducting incursions or excursions approved providers should follow their COVID Safe plans and other relevant policies and procedures of their service at all times, and when conducting excursions they should ensure they can follow the COVID Safe management plan of any place they are visiting. 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.

Hea​​​lth

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

  • fever
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath
  • runny nose
  • fatigue
  • diarrhoea
  • vomiting and nausea
  • 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 depend​​ing on each case.

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

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

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

Children an​​d 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 scree​​​ning

A fever is classified as a temperatur​​e reading at or above 37.5° Celsius.

  • If a child's temperature is at 37.5° Celsius or above​, ask the child and their parent or carer to wait in a separate room and re-check their temperature in 15 minutes.
  • If the second reading again equal​​​s 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 hav​​e 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.

Hygi​​​ene

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 foun​​tains

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 shoul​​d share food.

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

Mobile phon​​es

Discourage educators and staff from using mobiles if possible. Remind educators and staff to clean their ph​​ones regularly.

​​Social distan​cing

Minimise congregati​​on

  • 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 fin​​ish times

  • Services may consider adopting 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-con​​​tact 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 an​​d 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.
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Last updated 05 August 2021