COVID-19 Latest Updates

Last updated: 8 June 2021

The health, safety and wellbeing of our people – big and small – is always our highest priority. Below you’ll find details of how we’re managing COVID-19 in our Centres, and supporting our families and team members through this period of change and uncertainty.

We’re open and ready to support you

We understand that COVID-19 has created a number of challenges – financially, emotionally and when it comes to our individual and collective health. It’s our job to reassure you that our Centres are set up to provide a safe, nurturing and consistent environment for your children, which has never been more important.

We know some families may require assistance in understanding the options available to them. We’re here for you – to answer those questions and reassure you, and your children, every step of the way. We want you to have the latest information so you can make informed decisions every step of the way.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Centre Manager, contact our team on 1300 001 119 or use our dedicated COVID-19 email: [email protected].

Update for Victorian Families, 8 June 2021

Following last week’s announcement made by the Victorian Premier in regards to the extended lockdown, all Guardian Centres will remain open with normal operating hours up to Thursday the 10th of June inclusive.

Please be assured that we will maintain our focus on health and hygiene as our team, children and families attend our Centres. We appreciate your ongoing support in following these practices, including:

  • Logging in with the QR code provided to ensure your details are recorded in the event contact tracing is required
  • Logging into our Centre Visitor Log
  • Masks are to be worn at all times – including in the Centre and our drop off and pick up zones
  • Responding to signs of illness, no matter how mild and isolating until well
  • Strict following of our COVID Drop Off and Pick Up procedures (at the entrance only) to minimise the number of people in our Centres
  • Reinforcing key hygiene practices such as handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser
  • If you, your child, or a family member develops symptoms of fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, you should get tested at a COVID-19 testing facility and stay home
  • Contacting us immediately if you or a member of your household has tested positive to COVID-19, is classified a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case or is awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

Families who choose not to attend will be able to access additional absences (if all 42 allowable absences and previously provided additional absences have already been used) whilst the lockdown is in place.  If you have any questions, please reach out to us at [email protected].

What we’re doing in Centres

Guardian responds to emerging trends as advised by state-based department of health. Strategies to minimise risk and keep families, children and staff healthy are followed. Families will be notified of any changes that come into affect at centres via email and the service’s internal communication platform.

Some as these additional health and hygiene strategies we have implemented in relation to COVID and health departments include:

  • Drop off & pick up procedures: Centres have developed zones for arrival and departure. This may include staggered drop off and pick up times where possible and including information collection processes.
  • Updated visitor protocol: From time to time we have limited the number of visitors attending our Centre to minimise the risk of COVID-related illness.
  • Daily temperature checks: For all children, team members and visitors.
  • Additional hygiene measures: Including professional cleaning 5 times per week; implementing ‘High Touch Hygiene checklists’; removal of excessive soft furnishings; hot washing and drying cycles; ensuring good ventilation and air circulation; hygiene stations at multiple points throughout Centres; handwashing procedure posters with visual displays for children.
  • Return to care procedures for children and families who have been absent: Centres have a range of strategies these use to ensure they stay up to date with families, staff and visitors returning to the Centre after absence. State-based exclusion requirements are enforced.

Read our full COVID FAQs (below) for more information on the procedures we have in place to minimise COVID cross infection and keep our Centres safe.

 

For further information on COVID-19

Visit the Federal Government Department of Health, or call or visit your relevant state-based health authority:

 

COVID-19 FAQs

What can I do to help ensure my Childcare Centre meets COVID regulations and social distancing practices?

Staying open to support you and your families is our priority, so we urge everyone to continue to be vigilant and practice COVID-safe measures at all times. This includes:

  • Speak to your Centre Manager about any COVID safe practices in place.
  • Stay up to date with messaging from the Centre around any state-based COVID communications
  • Maintain social distancing if you come into a Centre
  • Practicing key hygiene practices such as handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser
  • If you, your child, or a family member develops symptoms of a fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, you should get tested at a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing facility and stay home
  • Contacting us immediately if you or a member of your household has tested positive to COVID-19, is classified a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and/or is awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

How are your Centres managing the risk of infection as more children and families return to care?

Our Centres are continuing to operate with rigorous health, hygiene and infection control measures. We appreciate your ongoing support in following these practices, including

  • Responding to signs of illness, no matter how mild and excluding until well
  • Continuing to follow our Drop Off and Pick Up procedures to minimise the amount of people in our  Centres
  • Reinforcing key hygiene practices such as handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer
  • If you, your child, or a family member develops symptoms of a fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell or taste, you should get tested at a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing facility and stay home
  • Contacting us immediately if you or a member of your household has tested positive to COVID-19, is classified a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and/or is awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

I’m interested in touring a Guardian Centre, am I able to do so?

Yes. Tours are open in all of our Centres. Rest assured our commitment to stringent health, safety and hygiene practices will remain in place in every Centre.

Tours provide prospective families with the perfect opportunity to explore our Centres, meet our teams and discover the Guardian difference. We have limited spots available, but you can book a tour quickly and easily here.

 

Can my child attend the Centre if they have a runny nose or other mild symptoms?

For the safety and wellbeing of all children and team members in our Centres, if a child is displaying any COVID-19 symptoms at all they can not attend the Centre and will ask parents to collect any child starting to show symptoms.

The symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Fever
  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of sense of smell

In certain circumstances headache, muscle soreness, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea may also be considered.

There has been an example of a child who had these systems and a negative COVID-19 test.  They then tested positive a couple of days later.  For examples like this, it is in the safety of all parties that we will not accept a child with symptoms, regardless of a medical letter of negative COVID-19 test. We appreciate your understanding

My Centre is open, but my child will be absent for COVID-19 related reasons, who do I need to tell?

My centre is closed due to a public health notice, will I be charged fees?

No, your account will be credited for the days that the centre is closed. Credits are applied Thursday mornings, for Friday of the previous week and Monday- Thursday of the current week.

Will Covid-19 related absences count towards my annual balance?

What happens when a Centre is informed of a case of COVID-19?

As soon as a centre becomes aware of a diagnosed case of COVID-19, all families are notified as a matter of urgency. This communication is carried out via SMS, email and via the StoryPark app to all impacted families.

Once a case is reported we follow procedures as set out by the relevant state government department, which may include closing the centre for a period of time in order for required health and safety procedures to take place. We cannot predict ahead of time whether a centre will need to be closed, nor the duration of any possible closure.

Is it still safe to send my child to childcare?

Yes. While centres remain open, it is safe to send your child. If that situation changes due to a reported case of COVID-19 in your centre, you will be advised immediately via SMS, email and StoryPark.

Rest assured every Guardian centre is taking all of the proper measures and precautions to ensure the safety of children, families and staff at this time. This includes following extended and extensive hygiene practices, highly controlled drop-off and pick up procedures, as well as dedicated and constant communication with our staff in centres to ensure they have the most up-to-date information to keep children safe and families informed. For more information, visit our Health, Safety and Wellbeing page.

What is the risk of parents or educators contracting the virus while in the Centre?

Because of the extensive health, safety, hygiene and infection control measures we have put in place in our centres, we have been able to lower the risk of infection as much as possible. However, we need to continue to take the appropriate measures and precautions to ensure this remains the case. In some cases, this may mean closing centres in line with the relevant state government recommendations, to ensure the safety of children, families and staff members.

People need to be considered a close contact of an infected person to be considered at risk. A close contact is typically someone who has been face-to-face for at least 15 minutes, or has shared the same closed space for at least 2 hours, with a person that was infectious.  We have also been informed that the infected person needs to have been displaying symptoms when visiting the centre or have visited the centre within the 24 hours prior to displaying symptoms for the risk to escalate.

What is the likelihood of a Centre closing?

It is impossible to predict with any certainty what may happen, however we are prepared for the need to close some centres for a period of time. Decisions are based on advice from the Department of Health ealth and other government authorities.

If a centre closes, we may seek to accommodate children at a nearby Guardian centre if possible places are avaiable and if allowed under Department of Health requirements and regulations that relate to containing the spread of the virus. Hence, this may not be possible in all cases. For those families where both parents work, or where care at home may be difficult, we encourage you to discuss contingencies with your employers in the event that your centre is required to close.

We understand the closure of a centre will cause disruption, uncertainly and inconvenience for our families. However, in these uncertain and unprecedented times, we must place priority on the safety of our children, families and employees. We will do our absolute best to support and accommodate your needs at this time, however we must also abide by government rules and regulations.

Please speak to your centre manager about your individual circumstances and how to best plan for a potential closure.

What happens if an educator displays symptoms of Covid whilst at the centre?

If an educator displays symptoms consistent with Covid-19 it is important to remember that it could be this virus or several other illnesses. However any educator who exhibits these symptoms whilst at the centre are sent home and is required to seek medical attention and testing.

What strategies are Guardian currently putting in place to manage Coronavirus in Centres?

Our approach is to manage the situation in a balanced, calm and measured way, and when required act swiftly and communicate clearly.

Our Coronavirus Task Group is actively communicating with a wide range of government authorities in order to ensure we are adopting the constantly evolving advice they are providing, to guarantee the safety and wellbeing of all our people, little and big. We are regularly communicating with families via email and have established a dedicated email address for families to send questions to –  [email protected] .  This email is constantly monitored by the Task Group.

We also continue to emphasise to our centre teams the importance of continuing to implement practices that support the highest standard of hygiene in our centres. We are supporting Centres by providing ongoing updates, new tools and modified policies and procedures. This information is being communicated frequently to all team members via our internal communication channels.

Additionally, we encourage our families to view the Federal Government Department of Health or your relevant state-based Department of Health website to keep informed of the latest advice.

What about visitors to the centre? What is being done to manage unnecessary exposure to COVID?

Visitors are required to declare whether they are feeling unwell, if they have been to a declared hot spot area or are awaiting COVID test results. If any visitors declare any of the above, they will be excluded until well and cleared to attend.

My child has been out of childcare for a period of time. Is there a return to care procedure I have to follow?

All educators, families and visitors entering our centres must complete a Personal Declaration Form upon their return to the centre. Your Centre Manager will provide you with this. This form is designed to capture key information about any COVID-related risk factors, such as recent illnesses, travel or exposure to anyone who has displayed symptoms. In addition, daily temperature checks were implemented. We are committed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and any other illnesses through this measure.

We cannot eliminate all risk and will rely on expert advice. In the absence of a full scale lock-down by the government, it is important that we do not panic – people still need to go about their business, albeit applying the evidence-informed advice from experts that is being provided.

What are some example of the additional hygiene measures you are taking to help manage COVID-19?

Effective hygiene practices, providing knowledge and having clear systems to manage symptoms are the best ways to minimise the spread COVID. It is essential that centres provide an environment that is healthy, hygienic and that minimises the risk of infection through proper hygiene practices that are understood, documented and implemented consistently. Therefore, Educators, staff, Centre Managers and management are being kept up to date on an ongoing basis through multiple communication channels regarding additional hygiene measures during this time, which include:

  • Professional cleaning occurs 5 times per week. Feedback is communicated to cleaners to ensure that cleaning is adequate and to highlight areas that require attention.
  • Excessive amounts of soft furnishings have been removed to minimise health and hygiene risks.
  • There are documented systems to clean resources, materials and equipment, including bottles, dummies and water bottles which are cleaned thoroughly daily or more often when required.
  • Ensuring spaces are well-ventilated with fresh air circulating as much as possible.
  • The introduction of hygiene stations throughout Centres – inside and out, in the foyer, staff room, kitchen and high traffic areas. Hygiene stations should include gloves, hand sanitiser, tissues, anti-bacterial wipes and access to a lidded bin.
  • Handwashing Procedure posters in place at all handwashing stations. Visual displays are also in place for children. Handwashing stations are restocked regularly as paper towel is preferred over hand dryers at this time.

How is Guardian managing excursions and outings during COVID?

Excursions and outings have recommenced. As part of our planning process, we have considered COVID safe practices.

Will I be notified if there are diagnosed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) at my centre?

Yes. As soon as a centre becomes aware of a diagnosed case of COVID-19, all families are notified as a matter of urgency. This communication is carried out via SMS, email and via the StoryPark app to all impacted families.

I have further questions, where can I go for answers?

We have also set up a dedicated email to respond to all family queries [email protected].

You should also regularly refer to the Federal Government Department of Health Website at www.health.gov.au or your relevant state government health department website.