COVID-19 Latest Updates

Last updated: 24 November 2020

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].

Victorian Centres Update: 24 November 2020

We are pleased that Victoria is in the ‘last step’ of COVID restrictions as implemented on 22 November 2020. These reduced restrictions include the removal of people requiring specific reasons to leave home, as well as the move to people returning to office environments.

Victoria has reviewed and updated their requirements around masks. Masks are no longer required in most outdoor spaces, however they are required indoors and outdoors when physical distancing requirements cannot be met. Masks must continue to be worn at Guardian Centres when dropping off and picking up children.

Other Guardian COVID measurements remain in place in Victoria, and we continue to focus on health and safety practices at all Centres, including:

  • The monitoring of children’s health by our team checking your child’s temperature on arrival
  • Following our drop off and pick up procedures
  • Maintaining social distancing if you come into a Centre and limiting your time in the Centre as much as possible
  • Practicing key hygiene practices such as handwashing and the use of hand sanitiser
  • Responding to signs of illness, no matter how mild and excluding until well
  • 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.

What we’re doing in Centres

In light of COVID-19 we have embedded a number of new and extended policies and procedures, that are continually reviewed, to ensure the safety of our children, families, teams and visitors.

Specifically, we have strengthened our health and hygiene practices to minimise the risk of COVID-19, as well as introducing a number of other additional measures.

  • Drop off and pick up procedures: All Centres have identified new zones for arrivals and departures; staggering family drop off and pick up times where possible; and introducing information collection processes.
  • 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.
  • Daily temperature checks: for all children, team members and visitors.
  • Return to care procedures for children and families who have been absent: All educators, families and visitors entering our Centres must complete a Personal Declaration Form upon their return to the Centre. 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.
  • Updated visitor protocol: Any non-essential visits, meetings or appointments have been cancelled or postponed. For essential visits such as deliveries of consumables, urgent maintenance, Authorities or medical attention there is a strict procedure in place, including a Personal Declaration Form, temperature check and social distancing rules.

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.

Thank you to Guardian staff during COVID

In the past few months, the Guardian Team have worked harder than ever before. So we want to thank those on the frontline, keeping our children safe, for their dedication and ongoing care; for their kind words and gentle shoulders and for keeping up the smiles, the giggles and the stories.

Thank You Guardian Team

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:

  • For those in Victoria, wearing a mask is mandatory
  • Following our drop off and pick up procedures
  • Maintaining 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.

When did Guardian Centres reopen to all families in Victoria?

Our Centres re-opened to all families and children on Monday September 28, 2020 – after Stage 4 Restrictions were lifted.

I live in Victoria, so what do I need to do to ensure my booking is active?

In order to prepare for our staff rostering, we assumed that all families would be returning to their Centres with their normal enrolled days when Stage 4 Restrictions were lifted on September 28.

If for whatever reason you no longer need your enrolled days, please let your Centre Manager know as soon as possible. If you require additional casual days, please also let your Centre team know as soon as possible so they can try to accommodate you. It is so important for the children to resume their routines and education after this extended period away, so we look forward to seeing them again very soon.

My employment has changed during COVID, but I still require care. Is there any additional funding or financial support in place to support my family?

Nationally, the eased activity test will be extended to 4 April 2021 to support families whose employment has been affected by COVID-19.

Until 4 April, individuals who can no longer engage in the same number of hours of work, training, study or other activity recognised by the Child Care Subsidy activity test immediately prior to the COVID-19 crisis, can advise Services Australia they meet the requirements to access 100 hours of subsidised child care, per child, per fortnight for up to 12 weeks. This can be done through your Centrelink online account through myGov or the Express Plus Centrelink mobile app.

This is fantastic news for families who do not need to cancel care due to their work circumstances changing. You may be entitled to the same amount or even more CCS benefit.

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

  • The monitoring of children’s health by our team recording your child’s temperature on arrival
  • As per new Victorian requirements, please ensure you are wearing a mask during pick up and drop off.
  • 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.

 

Do Melbourne families in restricted areas get increased allowable absences?

The Federal Minister of Education announced on 5 August 2020 that all Melbourne families would receive an extra 30 days of allowable absences, over and above your normal 42 days of allowable absences.

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?

We want to reassure our families that we are being proactive in dealing with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. We have established a Steering Committee consisting of our CEO, the National Director of Operations, the Head of Quality and Curriculum and our Chief People and Culture Officer. This Steering Group meets daily and works closely with our Coronavirus Task Group which is led by our National Compliance Manager and together they work to continually monitor the COVID-19 situation closely in order to provide current updates as required.

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 practices are in place to minimise cross infection throughout the day, including at drop-off and pick-up?

We have made changes to our drop off and pick up procedures because your family’s safety and peace of mind are our number one priority. The aim of these new strategies is to minimise the risks of infection whilst maintaining strong communication and relationships with our families. This includes all centres identifying new ‘drop off’ and ‘pick up’ zones for arrivals and departures, staggering family drop off and pick up times in some instances, as well as information collection processes and temperature checks on arrival. This is also where families will be supported by the centre team to limit the amount of time they spend at the centre and the number of people in the centre.

We are also following a number of additional processes to minimise the risk of cross infection:

  • Families are asked to use handwashing and/or the hand sanitiser in the centre foyer each time they enter and exit the centre.
  • Spacing children apart from each other when sleeping/resting and at meal times.
  • Revised mealtime practices so that utensils are not shared and that there is adequate space at the table.
  • Facilitating small group experiences and spacing children apart from each other.
  • Centres providing a choice of indoor and outdoor play to minimise large group activities.
  • Ensuring that at busy times of the day, families are not crowding in common spaces.
  • Ensuring there are spaces near iPads and pick up points so social distancing can be implemented.
  • Ensuring ventilation throughout the day so that where possible, windows are open to allow fresh air flow through the space.

Most importantly, we ask that, if a family member or a child is sick or is feeling unwell, to stay home. Rest and recuperate so we can all look after one another.

Please speak to the centre manager to learn more about these safe routines and practices or email us [email protected]

Do you check the temperature of children and people in the centre?

Yes. Daily temperature checks have been implemented in all centres. We are committed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and any other illnesses through this measure.

This means that children have their temperature checked by a team member upon arrival each day and again if they become unwell throughout the day. Team members have their temperature checked at the commencement of their shifts, again during their break and again if they become unwell. If children or team members present a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius or above they are unable to attend the centre.

In addition, anyone entering the centre as a visitor (for example a new family touring the centre) have their temperature checked. We keep a record off all people entering the centre each day so in the event of a diagnosed case of COVID we are able to contact any person who may be impacted.

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

The health and safety of our children, families and team members is our priority, and therefore any non-essential visits, meetings or appointments have been cancelled or postponed until further notice. For or essential visits such as deliveries of consumables, urgent maintenance, Authorities or medical attention etc, the Centre Manager and team members ensure the following procedure is followed:

  1. Visitors must sign a personal declaration form that captures key information about any COVID-related risk factors, such as recent illnesses, travel or exposure to anyone who has displayed symptoms.
  2. The visitor must confirm that they can enter the centre and are not experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms nor been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 (as do all other persons entering your centre).
  3. The visitor must use hand sanitiser before or upon entering the centre.
  4. The visitor must understand our requirements should they feel the need to cough or sneeze of coughing into their elbow or a tissue that is then disposed of.
  5. Team members must avoid physical contact with the visitor, and ensure no physical contact is made with anyone in the centre.
  6. The visitor must refrain from touching any hard surfaces or children’s equipment.
  7. Team members do not come into close contact with the visitor and practice ‘social distancing’ by remaining more than one-metre apart at all times.

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.
  • Following each centre’s ‘High Touch Hygiene checklist’ multiple times a day, which details cleaning procedures and frequency for high touch and traffic areas, such as door knobs, security keypads, education materials used by staff and children, mealtime areas, beds and more.
  • Excessive amounts of soft furnishings have been removed to minimise health and hygiene risks.
  • When cleaning cloths are used, they are laundered daily in hot water. Alternatively, paper towel and/or anti-bacterial disposable wipes are used.
  • Laundry is washed on a hot wash and dryers are being used.
  • There are documented systems to clean resources, materials and equipment, including dottles, 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?

The easing of restrictions and reduction in COVID-19 cases (in most jurisdictions), has enabled us to make some decisions about excursions and regular outings. We are working to re-introduce excursions where possible, but it is essential that as we do so we are meeting the current health, hygiene and infection control considerations that are in place. Therefore, this is being done on a centre-by-centre basis, and families will be kept updated with any planned excursions. Excursions will not be re-introduced into any Victorian centres until further notice.

As restrictions begin to be lifted how can I recommence care or enol my child at a Guardian Centre?

If you are looking to resume care, to take extra days or change your days please speak to your Centre Manager. If you are looking to return to care you don’t need to start straight away, but it would be helpful to let your Centre Manager know your plans so that they can plan accordingly. You will still be required to provide at least 5 days’ notice so that we can ensure we have the required educators available.

If you are looking to start a new adventure with Guardian please call 1300 001 119

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.