Last Updated 22nd September 2020, 11am
Novel Coronavirus FAQ’s
When will Guardian Centres reopen to all families in Victoria? expand_more
We are thrilled that we will be back to business as usual with our Centres able to be opened to all children from next Monday September 28. Our teams are excited to see all the children again, and we are sure families will be relieved to have their childcare routine re-established.
I live in Victoria, so what do I need to do before September 28 to ensure my booking is active? expand_more
In order to prepare for our staff rostering, we have assumed that all families will be returning to their Centres with their normal enrolled days from September 28. Your days are still available as they were pre-COVID, unless you made changes to your arrangements with us.
If for whatever reason you will not be using your enrolled days from September 28, 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? expand_more
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.
I’m located in a Stage 3 or higher restricted area of Melbourne. Will I be charged for absences now that centres are re-opening? expand_more
We are continuing to waive gap fees where a child is not attending for COVID-19 related reasons, if you are located in a Stage 3 or higher restricted area which covers greater Melbourne. We will be treating all absentees as COVID related and therefore be waving all gap fees if your child does not attend the Centre.
Please note that the government will stop paying CCS and cancel your enrolment if a child has not attended care for 14 weeks in a row. If you are concerned this may impact you, please speak to your Centre Manager so we can ensure we maintain some minimal attendance for you to continue to secure this entitlement.
How are your Centres managing the risk of infection as more children and families return from September 28? expand_more
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? expand_more
Yes. Two adults living in the same household are able to tour Centres together, in all states other than Victoria. We are also still offering virtual tours for families in all 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.
What does the new Level 4 Restriction in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire mean for us keeping our Guardian Centres open? expand_more
Guardian will be keeping all our Centres open for the families of vulnerable children and those who have been deemed eligible by the Government requirements during the lock-down, keep our educators employed and our centres ready to welcome all our families back when the restrictions are lifted.
Who can attend Guardian Centres in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire with Stage 4 Restrictions in place? expand_more
The Premier, in his press conference on Wednesday 5 August, explained that families wishing to access childcare would need to apply for a separate permit. The specific details are available on the Premier’s website here: https://www.vic.gov.au/worker-permit-scheme#childcare-permit
Parents and carers working in permitted industries who do not have anyone else in the household who can supervise their children, or if they are a single parent household, can access childcare for their children. This is regardless of whether they are working on-site or from home. If there is another carer in the household, permitted workers can still access onsite childcare if the other parent/carer cannot supervise children. This could be for a number of reasons – for example, their partner or co-parent:
- has a medical condition, or chronic illness which prevents them from caring for the child has a disability
- is completing full time study and must attend onsite
- works from home, but in a role that means they cannot supervise the children – resulting in the permitted worker not being able to do their job.
Both carers do not have to be permitted workers to access childcare – however Victorians are being asked to only access childcare services if they have to. This is to significantly reduce the movement of children and their families across metropolitan Melbourne to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Our centre teams will not be questioning your eligibility for childcare. If you, after following the government’s instructions, deem yourself eligible to use childcare then we will readily provide care and education for your child.
What do families in Melbourne Stage 4 Restriction areas have to pay if they are not able to attend the Centre? expand_more
The Federal Minister of Education announced on 5 August 2020 that all Melbourne families would receive an extra 30 days of allowable absences. This means any absences that are used during this Stage 4 lockdown will not affect your normal 42 days of allowable absences. We will also continue to waive all gap fees on absent days.
So even if your child won’t be physically attending the centre you do not need to cancel or change your booking in our system. We are asking families to keep their bookings in place regardless of attendance as this helps support our educators and staff, whilst maintaining your spot when the restrictions are lifted.
Do Melbourne families is Stage 4 restrictions areas get increased allowable absences? expand_more
The Federal Minister of Education announced on 5 August 2020 that all Melbourne families would receive an extra 30 days of allowable absences. This means any absences that are used during this Stage 4 lockdown will not affect your normal 42 days of allowable absences.
Will you be checking to ensure all families attending have a Childcare Permit in Stage 4 Melbourne Centres? expand_more
No we won’t. We will be trusting that our families are doing the right thing. At the end of the day, the Permit is a legal document that the family is responsible for signing as being true and accurate. We do not know families employment details, we do not know families home details, so we are not in a position to provide any assurance that even if a form is presented to us that it is truthful. We have to trust, and we do trust, that our families will avoid the significant fines that can be applied by being truthful with regards to their eligibility to use childcare.
However, if you are out of your home, make sure you have your Permit on you at all times.
I live in a ‘Stay at Home’ area of Victoria. What does this mean for my child attending childcare? Are they still able to attend? expand_more
Attending early childhood education and care is one of the four reasons permissible under the stay at home guidelines. Children and staff can continue to attend early childhood education and care services regardless of where they live, provided they have a valid Permit.
Services in these areas are recommended to temperature check children upon entry – thermometers are available from the Victorian Department of Education. Services outside lockdown areas that are attended by children within the lockdown zones are also encouraged to temperature check children.
I live on the border of Victoria and NSW – what does this mean for me? expand_more
The closure of the border between New South Wales and Victoria means that a cross border permit will be needed for staff and families living in one state and working or attending early childhood education and care in the other state. Strict conditions apply, including quarantine applying if a Victorian non-border community is visited.
I live in NSW, Qld or SA and have just visited Victoria. What do I need to do to return my children to childcare safely? expand_more
Residents entering New South Wales from Victoria, other than in border communities, will need an entry permit and are likely to be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Early childhood education and care services should not permit staff and children entering New South Wales from Victoria, other than border communities, in their services before the 14 days isolation period concludes. For further information on border closures and entry conditions in New South Wales please visit www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/what-you-can-and-cant-do-under-rules/border-restrictions#border-communities.
Victorian residents or visitors travelling to South Australia will face similar restrictions and need to apply for a permit for entry. Essential workers can apply to cross the Victorian/South Australia border. For further information see www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions
In Queensland, the tightening of restrictions means people who have been in a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days will no longer be able to quarantine in Queensland and will be turned away at our border. This applies to everyone who has been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the past 14 days, except people needed in Queensland for essential activities. Queensland residents who have been in a COVID-19 hotspot can return home but will be required to quarantine in government provided accommodation at their expense. You must complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass before you come to Queensland. This will include agreeing to get tested for COVID-19 if you develop any symptoms within 14 days of arriving in Queensland. For more information on Queensland border restrictions see www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/current-status/public-health-directions/border-restrictions
What does the No Gap Fee announcement for Melbourne on 7 July 2020 mean? expand_more
The gap fee is the fee payable by you over and above the CCS subsidy amount. It is often referred to as your out-of-pocket cost. Federal Education Minister Tehan announced that gap fees would be waived for families located in areas subject to Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions and who choose not to attend care.
This means that if your child is absent from care at a Guardian Centre for any COVID-19 related reason during the lockdown period, and you live in a lockdown area, then we will waive (not charge) your gap fee. This is an extremely positive thing. It means you can keep your place at the centre without worrying about the cost of care during this period. It means there is no reason for you to consider cancelling or reducing your days during the lockdown period.
If your child attends care, then you will be charged the gap fee.
Can my child attend the Centre if they have a runny nose or other mild symptoms? expand_more
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:
- Chills or sweats
- 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? expand_more
I live in Victoria and my child is absent for COVID-19 related reasons, will my gap fee be waived? expand_more
My centre is closed due to a public health notice, will I be charged fees? expand_more
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? expand_more
What happens when a centre is informed of a case of COVID-19? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
What practices are in place to minimise cross infection throughout the day, including at drop-off and pick-up? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- The visitor must use hand sanitiser before or upon entering the centre.
- 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.
- Team members must avoid physical contact with the visitor, and ensure no physical contact is made with anyone in the centre.
- The visitor must refrain from touching any hard surfaces or children’s equipment.
- 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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
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? expand_more
I have further questions, where can I go for answers? expand_more
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.