Last Updated 7th July 2020, 3pm
Novel Coronavirus FAQ’s
Melbourne is in Stage 3 COVID-19 lockdown. What does it mean for Guardian Centres? expand_more
All of our Victorian centres will remain open throughout the lockdown period and can take attendances, and families who are eligible for CCS have the option to not attend childcare and not be charged fees.
If you are looking to take extra days or change your days, please speak to your Centre Manager as soon as possible.
Please be assured that we will maintain our focus on health and hygiene as children and families attend our centres. 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
- 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
- New families or families who have been on holidays for more than 5 days will be asked to sign a Personal Declaration form at the entry of the Centre to confirm they are symptom free.
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 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.
All families in impacted VIC regions are automatically eligible for the waived gap fees if you choose not to attend.
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
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. As we come into winter, we know that the prevalence of illness increases during this time such as the common cold and influenza. 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
I’m interested in touring a Guardian Centre, am I able to do so? expand_more
Yes, however tours are limited to one person at a time. But we are open and ready to help shape and support a thousand different learning adventures. We have limited spots available so book a tour today! 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 quickly and easily by visiting here.
As we come into winter, what should I do if my child develops a runny nose or other flu like symptoms? expand_more
If your child has any early or developing flu-like symptoms, for the wellbeing and safety of other children and our teams they will be required to stay at home until recovered.
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.