COVID-19 Latest Updates

Last updated: 14th January 2022

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. With the latest information, we’re here to answer those questions to reassure you and your children, every step of the way.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Centre Manager or contact our team on 1300 001 119.

Update For all Families, 14th January 2022

To ensure we can keep our centres as safe as possible, and so that we have the best chance of keeping our teams COVID free and the centre open we have asked our teams to implement the following additional procedures in all centres;

  • Conducting as many of our learning experiences outdoors and when indoors we are increasing ventilation by having the windows open and using fans and air conditioners to increase ventilation. All air conditioning units are set to use 100% fresh air.
  • We are working to reduce the grouping of children from different rooms and age groups.
  • Rapid Antigen Tests have been ordered and will be available to potential close contact team members to avoid delays in securing PCR tests so we avoid potential asymptomatic positive educators working.

How you can help us with COVID safe practices

There are some things that you can continue to do to help us protect our centres:

  • Limit the number of people at pick up or drop off to one family member only.
  • Remain in the pickup and drop off zones at the entrance of the Centre and avoid entering the Centre and rooms
  • Remember to sign in each time you physically enter the Centre.
  • Always wear a mask and sanitise your hands.
  • Maintain social distancing.

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 and stay home. We ask that you or your child do not come to the centre whilst they have symptoms.

Contact your Centre Manager immediately if you or a member of your household has tested positive to Covid.

What do you need to do if there is a COVID case at your Centre?

Recent changes to the official health advice means that in most states we are no longer required to close the Centre if a positive covid-19 case has been reported at the centre. We can continue to provide care &education to our children who are symptom-free and not deemed a close contact.

This is positive news as it will minimise any disruption to your child’s care and education and impacts to your work and routine. A closure may occur briefly if significant numbers of team members are impacted.

As soon as practicable we will notify you about the case on email. A text message will be sent to you advising you to check your inbox if we require you to take action.

We will provide you with the following information to assist you:

  • The date(s) the infected person attended the centre.
  • What times they attended the centre.
  • What room(s) they attended.
  • Any quarantine and testing steps you should take if needed for your child’s room.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Centre Manager or contact our team on 1300 001 119.

Update For all Families, 2nd December 2021

As borders start to open up again for both domestic and international travel; it’s expected that in the coming months, there may be an increase in the number of covid cases in the community.

As always, we have always followed the Government recommendations set in place for safety, but at times, we have also implemented higher levels of COVID safe practices to ensure the utmost safety of the children in-centre, particularly those who are unable to get vaccinated.

These procedures include:

  • Implement drop off and pick up zones outside of the learning spaces, with outdoors being ideal if it is safe to do so.
  • Wellness checks for everyone entering the building to ensure they are symptom free.
  • Responding quickly when signs and symptoms are identified so that risk is minimized for others, and that the unwell child/team members can seek appropriate care.
  • Undertaking regular touch point cleaning throughout the day.
  • Minimising the number of external visitors attending the Centre when possible.
  • Adults wearing masks inside when not teaching children, as well as where distancing cannot be maintained at drop off and pick up.
  • Increasing ventilation, air movement and time spent outside.
  • Constant review of our COVID procedures, ensuring our approach is always in line with Government recommendations for the safety and wellbeing of our children, families and team members.

For our Victorian families, you may also be aware that there have been changes to the way that positive COVID cases are managed.

Under this new process:

  • If you are a close contact, you are required to get a standard PCR test at a covid testing facility ASAP and within 24 hours of being notified as a close contact.
  • Close contacts will not be required to quarantine if your test result is negative, and you are asymptomatic.
  • It is recommended that close contacts complete 5 days of Rapid Antigen Testing and continue to monitor for symptoms after being exposed.

What this means for families is, if there has been a positive COVID case in the centre, those that are deemed close contacts will be notified and be informed of testing requirements. However, the centre will remain open and the close contacts will be permitted to return once they have returned a negative PCR test.

Additionally, for our South Australian families, we also ask families to:

  • Sign in via QR code before entering the centre, in addition to our standard sign-in process through Kiosk.
  • Notify your Centre Manager immediately if you or a member of your household has tested positive to COVID-19, or if you have been classified a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, and/or are awaiting a COVID-19 test result.

We are also continuing to support our team members to meet the mandatory vaccination deadline of 11th December as part of our commitment to health and safety.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Centre Manager or contact our team on 1300 001 119.

Update For all Families, 24th November 2021

The Government and the Department of Education Skills and Employment (DESE) have recently announced that from the 9th of November to 30th of June 2022, gap fees for both CCS and Non-CCS families will be waived if you have been directed to isolate due to Covid-19 exposure at the centre, or if there has been a partial/full centre closure due to Covid-19.

This is excellent news for families as we understand that there may have been some questions surrounding this matter.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Centre Manager or contact our team on 1300 001 119.

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.
  • 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.
  • Mask wearing in-centre: Team members in-Centres are following their states recommendations on mask wearing when necessary.
  • QR code check in: All NSW and VIC visitors will be required to check in via a QR code on entering a Centre
  • Compulsory testing: All team members residing in NSW Local Government Areas of concern will continue to be tested every three days to ensure the safety of our Centres.

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

Are Centres still open to Families, and do I need a permit to attend? 

All our Centres are open to families who require care. Normal operating hours apply during this time.  Permits are no longer needed for families requiring care. 

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 
  • Ensure you are following the government recommendations and advice on mask-wearing.  
  • Continuing to follow our Drop Off and Pick Up procedures to minimise the amount of people in our Centres  
  • Signing in via a QR code at the entrance of the Centre should you be entering, if required 
  • 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 and stay home. We ask that you or your child do not come to the centre whilst they have symptoms. 
  • Contacting us immediately if you or a member of your household has tested positive to Covid, is classified a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case and/or is awaiting a Covid 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, including:

  • Wellness checks for everyone entering the building to ensure they are symptom free. 
  • Our Team Members are responding to signs of illness, no matter how mild and excluding until well 
  • Minimising the number of external visitors attending the Centre when possible. 
  • Continue to reinforce pick up and drop off points outside the rooms, outside being the preferred option if it is safe to do so.
  • Spending as much time as we can outdoors and when indoors we are increasing ventilation by having the windows open and using fans and air conditioners to help circulate the air.  
  • Our air handling units use 100% outdoor air to increase dispersal of particles. 
  • Minimising interactions children and educators have across different learning areas wherever possible. 
  • Cleaning high touch points frequently throughout the centre during the day
  • Daily clean of the centre each evening by external cleaners.
  • Implementing the infection control and cleaning guidelines provided in the National Health and Medical Research Council.
  • Teams wearing masks inside and outside when they cannot physically distance
  • Minimising team group interactions in the staff rooms and spending as much of our breaks as possible outside.  
  • Handwashing for team members and children, hand sanitising stations & antiseptic wipes throughout the centre.
  • Rapid Antigen Tests have been ordered by our Support Office to assist team testing.  

As a parent, do I need to be vaccinated to visit the centre?

There are currently no legislative guidelines requiring parents to be COVID-19 vaccinated in order to access childcare. We do ask however that parents do follow the COVID safety protocols that have been put in place by the centre, including wearing a mask, following the pick up/drop off zones and checking in/out when visiting to ensure the safety of all out team members, children and other family members.

Will all Guardian teachers & educators be fully vaccinated?

Under the direction and recommendations of the health department in each state Guardian has ensured that its teams are vaccinated for COVID-19.

ACT – All team members had their second vaccination dose by the 29th November 2021 

NSW – All team members had their second vaccination dose by the 8th November 2021 

QLD – All team members had their first vaccination by the 17th December 2021 and their second dose by the 23rd January 2022 

SA – All team members had their first dose by the 10th December and have booked an appointment to receive their second dose within the interval after the first dose as recommended by the Australia Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI)  

VIC – All team members have had their second vaccination does by the 29th November 2021

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

All our centres are open for tours.  The safety and peace of mind of families touring our centre and their children is important to us.  Our teams follow current health guidelines to provide Covid safe tours which include the following practices. 

  • Limiting attendees to two family members per tour. 
  • Limiting the number of tours taking place at the same time in the centre. 
  • Checking in using the QR code and our visitor log. 
  • Checking all visitors’ wellness on arrival. 
  • Implementation of hand hygiene practices and touch point cleaning. 
  • Requiring everyone to wear a mask on a tour. 
  • Maintaining social distancing of 1.5m between adults throughout their time in the  centre. 
  • Only entering the learning space where your chid will attend. 
  • Holding longer discussions outdoors. 
  • Keeping the tour to under one hour. 
  • Asking you to let us know if anyone in your family becomes unwell or develops covid  in the following 7 days. 

Tours provide prospective families with the perfect opportunity to explore our Centres, meet our teams and discover the Guardian difference. You can book a tour through our website. Or by calling our customer concierge team on 13 82 30. 

Rest assured our commitment to stringent health, safety and hygiene practices will remain in place in every Centre. We look forward to welcoming you on one of our tours soon. 

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 cannot 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 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 child attends a Guardian Centre in VIC. Do I need a permit for them to attend?

Following the advice of the Victorian Government all families no longer need a permit to access care. 

I live in Victoria, how will my child be signed in to care?

Following government advice, we have implemented a contactless sign-in for all children on arrival. This is be done via parents/carers signing in child via a phone/app or a staff member undertaking sign-in on their behalf.  We also require children to be signed in via our visitor log. 

Should I enter a Centre, do I have to sign in with a QR code?

If you are required to enter a Centre, you will need to sign in via a QR code as part of the Department of Health & Safety regulations advised for that state. 

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

We will waive the gap fee for the affected days and this will show on your next statement as a discount.

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

Am I eligible for additional Allowable Absences?

Families can access additional Allowable Absences during stay-at-home orders extending for more than 7 days. This means any Absent days taken during these stay-at home orders will not impact your overall 52 Allowable Absence Days, and you will continue to be subsidised. Additional allowable absences will be available until the end of hotspot declarations for states. 

Am I eligible for Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS)?   

ACCS (temporary financial hardship) is available to families who are:  

  • eligible for Child Care Subsidy (CCS) (they can apply for both at the same time), and  
  • are experiencing temporary financial hardship due to an event in the last six months, and  
  • have a substantially reduced ability to pay childcare fees.  

For more information on this and how-to instructions on how to apply for it, please click here.  

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

As soon as practicable we will notify you about the case by email.  A text message will be sent to you advising you to check your inbox if we require you to take any immediate actions such as collecting your child from the Centre, undertake testing or to enter quarantine.

We will provide you with the following information: 

  • The date(s) the positive case attended the centre during their infectious period.
  • What times they attended the centre. 
  • What room(s) they attended. 
  • Any quarantine and testing steps you should take if needed for your child.

We will also provide you with any relevant updates as and when necessary on email, I will be available to support you with any questions you may have and we will also have a national health and safety team who will also be on hand to support the team at this time.

Is it still safe to send my child to childcare?

Yes. While centres remain open, it is safe to send your child. If there is a reported case of COVID-19 in your centre, you will be advised immediately via email with more information and we’ll send you an SMS to check your inbox. 

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.  The safety and peace of mind of our families and their children are our number one priority.  All our centres have implemented the following practices to reduce the risk of Covid-19 at our centres. 

  • Wellness checks for everyone entering the building to ensure they are symptom free. 
  • Minimising the number of external visitors attending the Centre when possible. 
  • Continue to reinforce pick up and drop off points outside the rooms. 
  • Spending as much time as we can outdoors and when indoors we are increasing ventilation by having the windows open and using fans and air conditioners to help circulate the air.  
  • Our air handling units use 100% outdoor air to increase dispersal of particles. 
  • Minimising interactions children and educators have across different learning areas wherever possible. 
  • Regular cleaning daily wiping down all surfaces plus detailed cleans using an industrial-grade anti-viral cleaner. 
  • Teams wearing masks inside whenever possible, as well as where distancing cannot be maintained at drop off and pick up. 
  • Minimising team group interactions in the staff rooms and spending as much of our breaks as possible outside.  
  • Hand sanitising stations & antiseptic wipes throughout the centre. 
  • Rapid Antigen Tests have been ordered to assist with team testing.  

My child has been tested for COVID-19 but does not have any symptoms. Can they attend? 

Following recommendations from the Department of Health, anybody that has been tested is required to self-isolate until they receive a negative result, in addition to any other instructions that have been advised to you. For the safety of your child and the community, your child will not be able to attend until they have been fulfilled. 

What happens if I have visited an exposure site?

If you, your child, or a member of your household 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 and stay home until you receive a negative result. 

If you receive a positive result please contact your Centre Manager immediately and follow the directions from your health state department. 

We ask that you or your child do not come to the centre whilst they have symptoms as per our illness policy. 

Are you taking each child's temperature on arrival at the Centre?  

As of 17/11/20, temperature checks are no longer mandatory. However, your childs temperature may be checked if educators are concerned that they are unwell. You will be contacted if your childs temperature is elevated or if they are displaying other symptoms of being unwell and will be required to collect them from the service. 

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 a household contact, or a household-like contact, of a confirmed case and only applies if you have spent more than four hours with someone who has Covid-19 inside a house or similar setting like a child care centre 

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 to close the Centre are based on advice from the Department of Health and other government authorities.

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 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 or are awaiting Covid test results. If any visitors declare any of the above, they will be excluded until well or have a negative Covid test as appropriate. 

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. 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.

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

As soon as practicable we will notify you about the case on email.  A text message will be sent to you advising you to check your inbox if we require you to take action. 

We will provide you with the following information: 

  • The date(s) the infected person attended the centre. 
  • What times they attended the centre. 
  • What room(s) they attended. 
  • Any quarantine and testing steps you should take if needed for your child’s room. 

We will also provide you with any relevant updates as and when necessary on email.  Your Centre Manager will be available to support you with any questions you may have and our national health and safety team will also be on hand to support at this time. 

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

If you have any additional questions please contact your Centre Manager who can support you.

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.