All set for re-opening of child care centres

Yesterday’s meeting with owners of child care facilities (Photos: Jude Morel)

Yesterday’s meeting with owners of child care facilities (Photos: Jude Morel)

In preparation for the re-opening of child care facilities on May 11, 2020, following closure since March 23, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute for Early Childhood Development (IECD) held a half-day special information and sensitisation session at the International Conference Centre (ICCS) yesterday morning on new measures and guidelines in place for child care providers on Mahé.

The aim of the session, organised in collaboration with the Education Sector COVID-19 Task Force, was to prepare the child care operators for a smooth re-opening of their facilities while taking into account their critical role in keeping the children safe during the pandemic and in reassuring parents of the safety measures they will adhere to while running their child care programme.

During the session, which was for registered and unregistered childminders and day care operators, the attendees were presented with an overview of the Recovery Plan and ‘Guidelines for the Reopening and Continuity of Service for Childcare Services’ approved by the health department. The guidelines are based on three emphasised principles; hygiene, vigilance and social distancing, among other related aspects under the three principles.

The overview of the recovery plan for re-opening and continuity of childcare services, also catering for children with special needs, was made by the chief executive of IECD, Shirley Choppy. Present were the Minister for Education and Human Resource Development and chairman of the task force, Jeanne Simeon, representatives from the health department and staff of IECD.

In addressing the child care providers, Minister Simeon, who stressed on the importance of holding the sensitisation session, urged them to put into practice all of the guidelines so that in the end while in defeating the virus through their practices, they would have also contributed in breeding a new solid and resilient generation to fight any new type of pandemic that may arise in future.

Apart from being refreshed on measures that were in place, some of which could have seen a lesser attention in the past, the child care providers also learned about new measures that they needed to implement in their respective establishments so as to keep the children safe and to continue with their normal operations.

Among some of the new measures include the screening of children, staff and visitors, identification of an isolation corner and the practice of social distancing among other hygienic practices which now have to be effectively more on a personal basis. Also in view of preventing the spread of the virus, child care providers will also not be allowed to take in sick children as parents are being urged to look after their sick ones.

Also as part of newly adopted measures, children, staff as well as visitors at child care centres are expected to be visually screened for fever in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19), before accessing the establishments among other questions including on recent travels which child carers are required to ask parents every morning.

Other presentations held by the health and IECD officials were basically on hygiene practices, heightened vigilance, potential identification cases, physical and social distancing, communication plan and information sharing among others including an overview of COVID-19.

Each presentation was followed by a discussion.

Each participant was given a kit containing all the measures and guidelines to follow.

From the point of view of IECD, it was obligatory and important for all registered and unregistered child care operators to attend the special information and sensitisation session on the safe reopening and continuity of children services as those who were not present will not be able to operate their businesses as from Monday 11, April 2020, as they have not been imparted with the newly approved measures to fight against COVID-19 in their establishments.

Mrs Choppy later noted that the institute will, before Monday next week, try to get into contact with the few registered and unregistered child care operators who did not make it to the session yesterday, for one on one discussion in relation to the guidelines if they want to be granted permission to re-open their establishments.

“The health department is making it a must for all child care centres, including all other schools, to learn and put in place the approved measures against the spread of the virus and if they are not present today and further more through our contact with them to impart knowledge on the comprehensive plan, they will not be allowed to re-open their child minding facilities,” Mrs Choppy said.

She noted that the plan will remain in force further to amendments or changes that will be announced by the health department in relation to COVID-19 transmission.

In view that childcare providers will from now on no longer accept sick children, Mrs Choppy said that the institute will hold discussions with the health department for extended medical leave for parents to stay with their child until fit to enter a child care centre.

Health representative Juliette Henderson said that parents will be encouraged to check their children’s temperature every morning before attending child care centres and if the child’s temperature reads 38 degrees or above, the parents should leave their child at home and seek medical attention.

She noted that in the event that a child falls sick in the child care centres, the owners should advise the parents to pick up the child or they could also call 141 for assistance if the case is severe.

Most of the child care providers who talked to Seychelles NATION said that the measures are necessary if the virus is to be defeated.

They claimed the session was beneficial as they will all be on the same page when the child care centres re-open on Monday.

They noted that they need now to adjust to the measures in place mainly in regards to hygiene and social distancing, one of the main concerns they pointed out during the session.

The tips they got were to try as much as possible to prevent engagement of children in large groups and to hold activities in only small groups while avoiding groups to mix with one another.

Marie-Louise Pierre, a registered childminder from Anse Louis who cares for eight children at the moment, said that though she was aware of some of the measures, the session has made her more conscious of taking things more seriously and more intelligently, in the way she will care for the children in her care in the future.

Charline Labrosse who owns Count and Read Day Care and Pre-school at Union Vale (120 children), Le Rocher( 70 children) and Grand Anse Praslin (60 children) said that she will now encourage parents to be more engaged in the safety of their children while she will also make and adapt to a few changes in regards to hygiene practices and social distancing.

Ms Labrosse hopes to encourage small children to wash their hands frequently with soap while in addition encourage the older children to get use to using hand sanitisers among other hygiene practices and measures against the virus.

IECD is holding a similar session today at the Baha’i centre at Baie Ste Anne Praslin for Praslin and La Digue child care providers.

Patrick Joubert – Nation.sc

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