Policies and Procedures, enhanced and adapted during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Covid-19 Infection Control Policy
- How it is transmitted or spread
- How to reduce the risk of transmission
- Hand Hygiene
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Face Masks
- Social distancing
- Specific measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our setting
- Play pods
- Staff’s physical contact with children
- Children with additional support or care needs
- Physical environment
- Toys and equipment
- Food provision
- Children’s personal care
- Enhanced COVID-19 cleaning schedules
- Fire evacuation
- Revised drop off and collection procedures
- Communication with parents/guardians
- Actions to prevent adults and children with symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the service
- Staff: Health and Safety Authority return to work protocol
- Staff: After returning to work
- Children: Child return to Service
- Children: After returning to the Service
- Visitors and Contractors
- The incident plan where a child or staff member has or is suspected of having COVID-19 while attending the service
- Temperature testing
- COVID-19 testing
Covid-19 Enhanced Risk Management Policy
- Risk management and COVID-19
- Fire safety
- Cleaning between sessions
- Daily Risk Assessment
- Some of the areas of risk that will be included in the risk management process:
- COVID-19 staff induction training
- COVID-19 lead staff representative
- Staff clothing
- On-going communication and support
COVID-19 Policy and Response Plan
|Name of the Service:||Corofin Preschool|
|Document Title:||Covid-19 Policy and Response Plan|
|Document Author:||Olga O Malley|
|Person(s) responsible for developing, distributing, implementing, and reviewing Policy:||Persons responsible: Olga O’Malley|
|Method of communication of Policy to staff (e.g. email, hard copy, induction training, sign off):||E-MAIL and Induction training|
|COVID-19 Lead Staff Representative||Michelle Moynihan|
|Method of communication of Policies to parents/guardians (e.g. via email, hard copy displayed in service):||Email, hard copy available in the premises|
|Method of communication of Policies to children (e.g. posters, games, discussion, role modelling):||By using posters, through activities, games and songs|
|Date the Document is Effective From:||31/08/2020|
COVID-19 Policy and Response Plan
Service Name: Corofin Preschool
The government has published a ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol, COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers’ which describes the measures required to be put in place by employers and adhered to by workers to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace as it re-opens on a phased basis under the government’s roadmap. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has been given the authority to oversee compliance with the protocol. Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) has issued a setting preparation plan detailing the policies and practices necessary for providers to meet the requirements under the National Protocol.
The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), HSE, HPSC and Tusla have issued guidance for the reopening of early learning and care and school-age childcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Protocol and guidance for the sector incorporates current advice about measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) but as this advice evolves these measures and guidance may change so it is very important for providers to keep up to date with any new advice.
This policy and response plan
- Is informed by the Government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol, COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers and Workers.
- Is underpinned by the government’s key recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus: good hand hygiene, good respiratory hygiene, social distancing and regular cleaning and disinfecting.
- ● Is informed by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), HSE, Tusla, Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) and HPSC COVID-19 guidance for the early years sector
- Principles underpinning practice when reopening early learning and care and school-age childcare services during COVID-19
- COVID-19 Infection Prevention and Control guidance for settings providing childcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Tusla Guidance Document for Early Years Services: COVID-19
- Tusla Early Years Services: Self-Assessment Checklist
- Is in addition and complimentary to Regulation 23 Safeguarding, Health, Safety and Welfare of the Child of the Child Care Act 1991
(Early Years Services Regulations) 2016
- Is in addition to the Services’ Infection Control Policy
- Is in addition to the Services’ Risk Management Policy
- Is in addition to the Services’ Staff Training Policy
- Is in addition to the Services’ Dropping Off and Collection of Children Policy
Please note: These policies and procedures will be adhered to in the event of any future outbreak of an infectious disease (newly discovered or existing) or a pandemic.
This policy is intended to support Corofin Childcare to safely re-open our service for staff, parents and children, to adopt a risk assessment approach and to implement public health measures to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID–19 so as to provide a safe and healthy environment.
This policy sets out procedures to implement public health measures to reduce the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 while ensuring that the service’s policies and practices remain child-centered and that children’s health and well-being are a primary concern.
The service has a strong focus on the importance of effective communication with staff, parents and children and supports that may be required to alleviate the impact of the disruption, uncertainty and distress for some caused by COVID-19
- Notification to Tusla
COVID-19 is a notifiable disease and must be notified within 3 working days of the Service becoming aware of a notifiable incident. Tusla have developed a Notification Form for COVID-19 which includes additional information regarding the risk of closure as a result of COVID-19. The purpose of this form is to monitor any pending COVID-19 public health issue in early years settings and the continuation of childcare provision. We will use this form in the event of a known case
- Covid-19 Infection Control Policy
The Service’s Infection Control Policy has been reviewed in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with HPSC and Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate Guidance and Information on how to plan for re-opening and operating as safely as possible at this time. What is set out below is the additional enhanced procedures and should be read in conjunction with the service’s standard policy.
Covid-19 is a new illness caused by a new coronavirus (SARA-CoV-2) which is spread mainly through tiny droplets scattered from the mouth or nose of a person with the infection. The droplets can be scattered when the infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or laughs. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth.
Anyone can get this illness but to date the evidence is that older people and those in at risk categories are most seriously affected.
The most common symptoms are:
- Cough – this can be any kind of cough, usually dry but not always
- Fever – high temperature over 38 degrees Celsius
- Shortness of Breath
- Breathing Difficulties
- Loss or changed sense of smell or taste
It can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear. Some cases are asymptomatic, meaning there are no symptoms, however the individual is still infected with Covid-19.
The current evidence suggests that children seem generally less likely to contract the virus and are not more likely than adults to spread the virus to other people. Children can get this illness but the current evidence is that they have no symptoms or a very mild disease.
Symptoms in children include:
- High temperature
- Shortness of breath
- Fever or chills
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
How it is transmitted or spread
- COVID-19 is transmitted in breath, sneeze or cough droplets
- The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids from an infected person’s nose or mouth coming in contact with your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Transmission can be directly from person to person, however it is more commonly transmitted indirectly, when you touch surfaces or objects where the virus is present, followed by touching your face, where the virus enters through the mucous membranes
- Children are not more likely than adults to spread the virus
How to reduce the risk of transmission
We will follow the following protocol in terms of hand washing
We will wash our hands frequentlywith soap and water or use hand sanitiser if hands are not visibly dirty in line with the WHO and HSE recommendations
- The service will promote good hand hygiene techniques in line with HSE and WHO guidelines, and support children to do the same through modelling, signage, activities and games
- We will ensure an adequate supply of liquid soap, hand gel or rub and disposable or paper towels available throughout the premises.
- We will use liquid soap and warm running water for hand washing and only use hand gels or rubs where running water is not available.
- It is better if children wash their hands where possible but where this is not possible alcohol-free rub or baby wipes may be used by children
- Hand gel or rub must be applied vigorously over all hand surfaces and are only effective if hands are not visibly dirty.
- If hands are physically dirty, then they need to be washed with liquid soap and warm water and children and staff will have to go to the nearest sink or bathroom.
- Staff and children will be encouraged to avoid touching their eyes, their mouth or nose with their hands.
- The children will continue their ongoing personal hygiene programme.
- How to wash your hands with soap and water (HSE)
- Wet your hands with warm water and apply soap.
- Rub your hands together until the soap forms a lather.
- Rub the top of your hands, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
- Do this for about 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands under running water.
- Dry your hands with a clean towel or paper towel.
- Children should wash their hands and be supervised doing so
- When they arrive at the Service and before they go home
- Before eating and drinking
- After a nappy change or using the toilet
- After playing outside
- After sneezing or coughing into their hands
- Whenever hands are visibly dirty
- Staff should wash their hands
- When they arrive at the Service and before they go home
- After coughing and sneezing
- Before handling food
- Before and after eating their own food – breaks/lunches
- Before and after giving medication or applying ointment to a child
- After changing nappies, assisting a child to use the toilet or using the toilet themselves
- After caring for children who are teething or dribbling.
- After caring for young children who require close physical contact and comfort, where contact points such as the neck or arms may become contaminated with secretions or mucous, these should be washed immediately.
- If staff move from one room to another room or from inside to outside areas
- After contact with bodily fluids (runny nose, spit, vomit, blood, faeces)
- After cleaning tasks
- After removing gloves
- Before and after handling own masks
- After handling rubbish
- Whenever hands are visibly dirty
- If in contact with someone who is displaying any COVID-19 symptoms
- Before and after being on public transport
- Before and after being in a crowd
- Before having a cigarette or vaping [staff are reminded the service is a non-smoking area]
- Staff will continue to adhere to Government guidelines when not on the premises.
Respiratory hygiene practice, good respiratory hygiene
When coughing and sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub (for adults) and alcohol-free rub or ‘baby wipes’ for children or soap and water in line with the WHO and HSE recommendations. It is better that children wash their hands where possible but where this is not possible hand sanitiser should be used.
- Staff and children must adopt good respiratory hygiene and etiquette
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue
- The Service ensures that tissues are readily accessible throughout the Service with a dedicated open-topped bin to be emptied when half full, provided in each of the rooms and in the outdoor areas for easy disposal of used tissues.
- Staff and children should wash their hands after coughing or sneezing
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth – the virus enters the body through eyes, nose and mouth so refraining from touching your face drastically reduces the chances of contracting the virus.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The service will have an adequate supply of PPE for use when required by staff including disposable single use plastic aprons and non-powdered, non-permeable gloves e.g. when there is a risk of coming in contact with bodily fluids.
The National Public Health Emergency Team recommends the use of cloth face coverings by people aged 13 years or older in certain indoor settings. This guidance is applicable in childcare settings where it does not pose a barrier to care. This includes situations where there is interaction between adults when not caring for children. Guidance is available at the following link: https://www.hpsc.ie/az/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/infectionpreventionandcontrolg uidance/ppe/useoffacemasksbythegeneralpublic/
· In some cases an Early Years Educator who wishes to use a face covering but who finds that a cloth face covering is an impediment to childcare may consider use of a visor. If a visor is used it should extend from above the eyes to below the chin and from ear to ear.
- Maintain social or physical distancing, that is, leave at least 2 m (6 feet) distance between adults when staff are not engaged in childcare activity e.g. meetings or arriving at work
- As part of social distancing a ‘no handshaking policy’ will be implemented
- The service recognises that it is not possible for staff to observe physical distancing when caring for young children and it is not practical nor recommended that young children should physically distance from each other in their play pod.
Specific measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our setting
- A. Play pods
- The service will determine the maximum size of the play pod. The department has advised that there is no evidence on which to define a maximum pod size but that they should be kept as small as is likely to be reasonably practical in the specific childcare context. Pod sizes may take account of regulations relating to maximum adult-child ratios for the different age groups.
- The department has also advised that there will no change to the adult-child ratios and space requirements for the different age groups and care categories under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016
- Within a play pod social distancing between young children is not recommended and, therefore, we will not expect children to social distance in our Service.
- A record will be retained of the people (children and adults) in the service on each day to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an episode of the infection
- The formation of pods is less relevant or not relevant in settings caring for smaller numbers of children.
- At present in Corofin Childcare our Junior and Senior room is equal to one pod.
Staff’s physical contact with children
- The service requires staff in the same play pod to implement social distancing of 2 meters or 6 feet between them while they are working with children in as far as possible, whilst ensuring children are kept safe and well cared for.
- The service recognises that young children need physical contact and comfort from staff for their safety, their wellbeing and to attend to their personal care needs and that staff will have close contact with children in their care.
- The service recommends that children should initiate the physical contact with staff or where children are indicating through their behavior or words that they need comfort, that staff respond to the children’s needs for physical comfort, nurturing or hugs
- The service recommends that staff do not kiss children.
- Staff should be cognizant of any dribbling or mucus discharge when holding or in close contact with children and to wash their hands and change clothes.
Children with additional support or care needs
· Social distancing is not a requirement for children in early learning and care and school age childcare settings and may not be practical or reasonable to implement where children have personal care or assistance needs.
· The focus should therefore be on emphasising that parents/guardians should have a heightened awareness of signs, symptoms or changes in baseline which might suggest illness/COVID-19 infection and where symptoms are present, children should not attend for childcare.
· Children who are unable to wash their hands by themselves will be assisted to clean their hands using either soap and water or a hand sanitiser (if their hands are visibly clean) as outlined previously. Infection Prevention and Control Guidance Emergency Early Years settings providing childcare during COVID-19 V1.2 31.07.2020 HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre http://www.hpsc.ie Page 13 of 20
· If healthcare is provided to children in a childcare setting the Early Years Educator, nurse or healthcare assistant will follow the standard infection prevention and control practice for healthcare delivery, as advised by the child’s parent and the health professional.
· Some children may have care needs (physical, emotional or sensory) which require the use of aids and appliance and/ or medical equipment for example toileting aids, moving and handling equipment, respiratory equipment. Where cleaning of aids and appliances is carried out in our setting a cleaning schedule will be provided, detailing when and how the equipment is cleaned and the cleaning products to be used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
- a. Physical environment
- The premises will be cleaned thoroughly both indoor and outdoor prior to the service re-opening, including all toys and equipment
- Particular attention needs to be given to any shared entry or exit points and have measures in place to prevent contact. The service will ventilate the environment as much as possible and within temperature requirements e.g. through opening windows in advance of children being in the room or while they are outside. COVID-19 thrives more in an indoor environment.
- The service will use the outdoor space as much as possible when the weather permits. This increases the space for activities to be set up and increases the space between children.
- Child friendly signage will be displayed including physical distance markings in communal areas and at drop and collection points to encourage social distancing and to prevent groups congregating
- We have placed a notice at the entrance to the service stating that children and staff may not attend if a child/parent/household member or staff member has
- signs or symptoms of respiratory infection, such as a cough, shortness of breath and/or fever
- temperature of 38C or over
- has returned from abroad in the previous 14 days
· Equipment used to deliver care will be visibly clean.
- Care equipment will be cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Cleaning is generally achieved using a general-purpose detergent and warm water.
- Equipment that is used for different children will be cleaned and, if required, disinfected immediately after use and before use by another child e.g. toileting aids.
· If equipment is soiled with body fluids:
- First, clean thoroughly with detergent and water.
- Then disinfect by wiping with a freshly prepared solution of disinfectant or disinfectant wipe.
- Rinse with water and dry.
Physical environment – staff areas
- Offices should be treated like childcare rooms and access limited primarily to office staff and when childcare staff have to complete administrative, filing or reporting tasks
- Only one person to occupy the office at any one time. Use antibacterial wipes to wipe down surfaces after use.
- Staff meetings to be held in one of the classrooms or outside where tables and chairs are separated by at least 2 meters. Office, kitchen, store room or entrance hall will not be used as a meeting area for staff.
- Staff should not share equipment such as pens, cups and plates but should have these items for their own personal use.
- Staff are responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their tables and chairs after use for the next person.
- Staff are responsible for cleaning the bathroom surfaces (toilet seat, flusher, taps etc). wipes will be disposed of in the bin provided (not down the toilet)
- Cutlery and crockery should be washed in a dishwasher at 60°
- Toys and equipment
- The service will offer toys that can be easily cleaned, disinfected (where necessary) and dried on a daily basis
- The service will consider carefully the use of certain toys that are difficult to clean e.g. dress up clothes, soft toys. If considered important for some children then the sharing of these items between children will be discouraged and the items will be washed and dried before.
- Toys, jigsaws and puzzles used by young children, which have been placed in their mouths, will need to be capable of being washed before reuse by another child in their play pod. There is a risk of a child putting toys in their mouth and then handing it to another child before a staff member has cleaned it.
- We may offer sand play for the children and these areas will be cleaned every week (according to the latest HPSC guidelines).
- Playdough will be replaced daily
- Water play area will be cleaned daily.
- We would ask parents not to bring toys from home into the centre.
- c. Children’s personal care
- The service uses the following procedure: when providing personal care to young children such as nappy changing or supporting children with toileting: staff should wear disposable single use plastic aprons and non-permeable gloves as well as washing hands before and after use of gloves
- d. Enhanced COVID-19 Cleaning Schedules
We will use enhanced cleaning schedules which specify:
- The areas to be cleaned, particularly frequently touched surfaces, e.g. light switches, door handles, taps, toilet flush handles, tables, telephones, keyboards using a household cleaning product.
- The method of cleaning, frequency of cleaning, and the cleaning product to be used
- All toys, in particular mouthed toys, and also outdoor toys and equipment
- A list of the cleaning products will be maintained with clear written directions for their use
- Each room will have an adequate supply of cleaning agents stored safely so that staff do not have to leave the care room to retrieve them. The provider will ensure that there are adequate supplies of cleaning agents, liquid soap, hand gel/rub, paper hand towel
- Staff will wear rubber gloves when cleaning surfaces, wash the gloves while still wearing them, then wash their hands when they take them off.
Cleaning and disinfecting of Toys
- All toys (including those not currently in use) will be cleaned on a regular basis, i.e. weekly. This will remove dust and dirt that can harbour germs.
- Toys that children put in their mouths will be washed and disinfected after use, before use by another child.
- All toys that are visibly dirty or contaminated with blood or body fluids will be taken out of use immediately for cleaning or disposal.
- Toys waiting to be cleaned will be stored separately. Plastic tubs labelled with room name will be kept in the kitchen so that contents can be cleaned and disinfected before use by another child.
Please see attached “Cleaning and Disinfection Schedules”
Further Advice on Cleaning and Procedures
Droplets carrying the virus that causes COVID-19 can fall from the air on to surfaces such as tabletops, toys, and other things that we touch. If people contaminate their hands while sneezing or coughing they may contaminate surfaces by touching them. A person may become infected when they touch a contaminated object or surface and they then touch their own mouth, nose or eyes. For example someone may touch a contaminated door handle and then rub their eyes or put something in their mouth. The virus cannot grow on surfaces but it can survive if they are not cleaned. The virus gradually dies off over time and under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours. Regular cleaning of frequently –touched hard surfaces and of hands will therefore help to reduce the risk of infection. If a person with suspected COVID-19 is identified in our setting all surfaces that the person has been in contact with will be cleaned and disinfected.
· Cleaning is best achieved using a general-purpose detergent and warm water, clean cloths, mops and the mechanical action of wiping/scrubbing. The area will then be rinsed and dried.
· The routine use of disinfectants is generally not appropriate but is recommended in specific circumstances where there is a higher risk of cross-infection for example someone has become ill with an infection such as COVID-19 whilst in the childcare facility or if there has been a spillage of blood, faeces or vomit. See Table 1.
· Disinfectants are potentially hazardous and must be used with caution and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Surfaces and items must be generally be cleaned before a disinfectant is applied as most disinfectants are inactivated by dirt however there are products that facilitate a combined cleaning and disinfection (2 in 1) process.
Routine Post COVID case
Surfaces – Neutral detergent Neutral detergent AND 0.05% sodium hypochlorite OR
Toilets Neutral detergent 0.1% sodium hypochlorite OR other Virucidal disinfectant AND (optional) 0.1% Sodium Hypochlorite Or other virucidal disinfectant
Non –disposable cleaned at the end of cleaning session Non-disposable disinfected with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite
Other virucidal disinfectant
Personal protective equipment for cleaning staff
Uniform AND household gloves Uniform AND plastic apron (if available) AND household
gloves = rubber gloves?
Domestic waste stream Place in plastic bag and tie , then place in a second plastic
bag and store securely for 72 hours before putting it out for
collection in the normal domestic waste stream
Adapted from Table 1. ECDC Technical Report. Disinfection of environments in healthcare and nonhealthcare settings potentially contaminated with SARS-CoV-2. March 2020
· The manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, using and storing solutions must and will always be followed.
· Using excessive amounts of cleaning agents or disinfectant will not clean better or result in better disinfection but it may damage work surfaces, make floors slippery and give off unpleasant odours.
· Water will be changed when it looks dirty, after cleaning bathrooms and after cleaning the kitchen.
· The least dirty items and surfaces will be cleaned first (for example countertops before floors, sinks before toilets).
· We will always clean high surfaces first, and then low surfaces.
· Separate colour coded cleaning cloths and cleaning equipment will be used for kitchen areas, classrooms and toilets.
· Cleaning cloths will either be disposable or reusable. Disposable cloths will be disposed of each day.
· Ideally, reusable cloths will be laundered daily on a hot wash cycle (at least 60°C) in a washing machine and then tumble dried.
· Ideally, mop heads will be removed and washed in the washing machine at 60°C at the end of each day or in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
·If this is not possible after use the cloths and mops will be cleaned thoroughly with warm water and detergent, then disinfected using a low concentration of household bleach rinsed and air dried.
· Mop heads will not be left soaking in dirty water.
· Buckets will be emptied after use, washed with detergent and warm water and stored dry.
If equipment is stored wet, it allows germs to grow increasing the risk of cross infection.
· Waste bins will be emptied on a daily basis.
· Once the room is vacated, the room will not be reused until the room has been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all surfaces are dry.
· The person assigned to clean the area should avoid touching their face while they are cleaning and should wear household or disposable single use non-sterile nitrile gloves and a disposable plastic apron.
· We will clean the environment and the furniture using disposable cleaning cloths and a household detergent followed by disinfection with a chlorine based product such as sodium hypochlorite (often referred to as household bleach). Chlorine based products are available in different formats including wipes. Alternatively use a 2 in 1 process of cleaning and disinfection with a single product for example certain wipes.
· We will pay special attention to frequently touched sites including door handles, backs of chairs, taps of washbasins, toilet handles. Once cleaning and disinfection have been completed and all surfaces are completely dry, the area can be put back into use.
Laundry if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19
· Laundry will be washed at the highest temperature that the material can stand.
· Household/rubber gloves will be worn when handling dirty laundry and items should be held away from clothing. The gloves will be washed prior to removal and dried for reuse. Hands will be washed thoroughly with soap and water after removing the gloves
· If gloves are not available, hands will be washed thoroughly after handling laundry. Infection Prevention and Control Guidance Emergency Early Years settings providing childcare during COVID-19 V1.2 31.07.2020 HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre http://www.hpsc.ie Page 19 of 20 Managing rubbish if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19
· All personal waste including used tissues and all cleaning waste will be placed in a plastic rubbish bag.
· The bag will be tied when it is almost full and then place it into a second bin bag and tied.
· Once the bag has been tied securely it will be left somewhere safe. The bags will be left for three days before collection by the waste company.
- a. Fire evacuation
- Fire evacuation will be carried out as normal during the period of COVID-19
Parents Revised Drop off and Collection Procedures in order to limit the extent to which groups of people mix with each other
The purpose of these dropping off and picking of children procedures is, in as far as possible, to support social distancing and minimise the number of contacts that parents and children have with other parents and children, especially at the entrance to the service or in the arrival area.
Arrangements for dropping off and picking up children from childcare will be organised to maintain distance between parents and guardians and between parents and guardians and the childcare workers.
- There will be two drop off points during the Covid19 pandemic to allow for physical distancing, namely the front door and the side gate (entrance to the playground)
- An Early Years Educator will be at the entrance door or gate to receive the child and avoid or limit physical contact with the accompanying adult.
- A similar process will be followed for pick up
- Parents cannot leave equipment such as buggies, car seats, scooters at or in the premises but to bring them home.
- Access to the service to parents of infants and those with specific needs or in risk categories will be limited
- In relation to the drop off of forgotten Items (e.g. change of clothes, lunch boxes) , the parent shall leave the item in the plastic tub provided outside the front door. In the event that the tub is unavailable, the parent may ring the doorbell for the attention of staff inside.
In advance of children returning, the service will make contact with parents:
- To enquire if their child is returning to the service
- To ask them to complete the return to service child form
- To explain the revised COVID-19 health and safety and risk management procedures, the revised drop off and collection procedures, the purpose of these new procedures in reducing the transmission of the virus and that the service is safe for their children to return to while acknowledging that the risk of the virus being transmitted cannot be fully eradicated
- To explain the ‘play pod’ – who will be their child’s key worker and that the purpose is to reduce the number of close contacts that their child and the staff will have while attending the service
- To emphasise the importance of their child only attending the service if they are well and with no symptoms of COVID-19 and actions to be taken if their child is displaying any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or is a confirmed case or is a close contact with a suspected or confirmed case
- To explain the actions that will be taken if a child or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19 while attending the service including that their child’s temperature may be taken in this context
- To request an additional emergency contact in the event that they are not contactable
- To explain the parental agreement, what it will cover and that parents will be required to sign it
- To assure them that the service’s practices will continue to be child-centered
- To emphasise the responsibilities of parents in supporting the new procedures.
- The service will also seek to understand if COVID-19 and the restrictions have had any traumatic or difficult impacts on the child and family and how the service may need to support the child on their return.
Actions to prevent adults and children with symptoms of COVID-19 from entering the service
Health and Safety Authority return to work protocol
- ● Before returning to work all staff must complete a pre-return to work format least three days in advance of returning to work. This form should seek confirmation that the staff member to the best of their knowledge has no symptoms of COVID-19, that they are not self-isolating, that they are not a close contact of a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days or awaiting results of a COVID-19 coronavirus test.
- If a staff member is identified as being in the “at risk or vulnerable category”, the Service will carry out a risk assessment with the staff member and identify what controls can be put in place to support the staff member’s safe return to work. It is recommended in the Return to Work Safely Protocol that vulnerable or at-risk staff should be preferentially supported to maintain a physical distance of 2 meters, however while this may be possible between staff, this will be challenging if not impossible to implement while working with young children
After returning to work
- After a return to work, any staff member who is unwell with a fever, has a cold, influenza or infectious respiratory symptoms of any kind or displaying any of the symptomsof the coronavirus, they need to stay at home, contact their GP and seek their guidance on referral for coronavirus testing.
- ● Any staff member with symptoms of coronavirus or who tests positive should quarantine at home for 14 days and only return to the Service when the symptoms have fully resolved and are no longer infectious.
- Any staff member who is a close contact of a person who has or is suspected to have COVID-19 should not present to work.
- Staff must adhere to all public health travel restrictions that are in place e.g. quarantine for 14 days on return from travel abroad or any other travel restrictions that are put in place.
Child return to service
- Before returning to the service parents will be asked to complete a pre-return to service form for their child. This form will seek confirmation that the child, to the best of the parent’s knowledge, is well, has no symptoms of COVID-19, that they are not a close contact of a person who is a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days or awaiting results of a COVID-19 coronavirus test, and that they are not in a risk category.
After returning to the service
- Any child who is unwell with fever, cold, influenza or infectious respiratory symptoms of any kind or displaying any symptomsof coronavirus, needs to stay at home, contact their GP and seek their guidance on referral for coronavirus testing.
- Any child with symptoms of coronavirus or who tests positive should quarantine at home for 14 days and only return to the service when the symptoms have fully resolved and is no longer infectious.
- Any child who has any symptons of viral respiratory infection COVID-19 should not present to the preschool or if there is someone in the household suspected or known to have Covid 19.
- All staff members, parents and guardians should follow Government advice regarding travel and restriction of movement following travel available at https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/75d92-covid-19-travel-advice/. These restrictions also apply to children who travel outside of Ireland. Please note that we require those who travel abroad (regardless of being on the green or red list) not to attend the preschool for 14 days.
- Only parents or carers who are well and have no symptoms of COVID-19 or who have served the required quarantine time of 14 days where advised should be allowed to drop off and collect children.
- Limit access to the service to parents of those with specific needs or in risk categories
Visitors and contractors
- Where at all possible, we will limit access to the service to staff and children only
- Visitors or contractors will only be permitted to enter the service on essential business e.g. essential maintenance and they should be asked to make these visits outside of the usual operational hours.
- Any visits to the childcare facility during the day should be by prior arrangement and visitors should be received at a specific contact point (for example an office) and be subject to the same controls that apply to staff entering the childcare facility.
· Physical distancing should be maintained with visitors where possible.
· If we are likely to have a high throughput of visitors to a specific contact point we will consider the use of physical barriers such as a screen when adequate distance cannot be reliably maintained or use of cloth face coverings as per NPHET guidance.
- Where external deliveries are required, practices will be put in place to ensure that delivery staff remain outside the premises and adhere to social distancing and good infection control practices
- All visitors and contractors will be required to provide the following information to be included in the Service’s Visitors’ Book: their name, date of visit, contact details and reason for them being at the service. This is located in the Office of Corofin Childcare.
- People who are in high risk or vulnerable categories will be asked not to attend.
The incident plan where a child or staff member has or is suspected of having COVID-19 while attending the service
To safely manage a situation whereby a staff member or a child becomes unwell while in the Service and may be presenting as a suspected case of COVID-19 the Service has an incident plan in place including:
- The Service has an Infection Control Officer present at all times: Olga O’Malley and Michelle Keating.
- The Service has appointed a COVID-19 lead staff representative: Michelle Moynihan
- Management has identified our kitchen as the designated isolation room or area in the Service.
- The purpose of moving a staff member or child who is presenting as unwell and maybe a suspected case of COVID-19, is to move them away from other staff and children thereby reducing the risk of transmission of the virus to others
- Ensure that the staff member or child who is presenting with symptoms of COVID-19 is at least 2 meters distance from other staff and children
- Management will ensure that the isolation room or area will contain Personal Protective Equipment these will be located in FIRST AID AREA ABOVE THE FRIDGE IN PRE-PACKED INDIVIDUAL ZIP-LOCK BAGS i.e. disposable aprons, gloves, face masks, tissues, hand sanitizer, disinfectant. Dedicated pedal bin to dispose of any waste material.
If a child or staff member is in the childcare facility at the time that they feel unwell and develop symptoms of infection :
- If a child develops any symptoms of acute respiratory infection including cough, fever, or shortness of breath while in the care facility, a staff member will need to take them to the place that is planned for isolation.
- A temperature of 38°C will not be discounted on the basis that a child is teething. For information on teething see the link below: https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/child-health/baby-teething-and-gums.html
- We will call the child’s parent or guardian and ask them to collect their child as soon as possible. Remember the virus is spread by droplets and is not airborne so the physical separation is enough to reduce risk of spread to others even if they are in the same room.
- A staff member caring for a child waiting for pick-up will need to be prepared to have contact with the child as necessary. The childcare worker will wear a mask. Staff members may prefer to wear gloves in this situation although they are not strictly necessary as the virus does not pass through skin. Whether gloves are worn or not it is essential for staff to avoid touching their own nose, mouth or eyes while caring for a symptomatic child and to perform hand hygiene. If gloves are used, the staff must perform hand hygiene immediately after removal and safe disposal of gloves.
- If a member of staff has helped someone with symptoms, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves or unless they are subsequently advised to do so by public health.
- If a staff member develops symptoms of acute respiratory infection including cough, fever or shortness of breath while in the care facility they will be asked to go home without delay and contact their GP by telephone.
- They should remain 2 m away from others if possible. They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in the bin. If there are no tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
- If they can tolerate doing so, they should wear a surgical mask.
- If they must wait, then they should do so in the isolation room away from others.
- If they need to use toilet facilities they should wipe contact surfaces clean and clean their hands after attending the toilet.
- In an emergency, we will call the ambulance, and explain that the child or staff member is unwell with symptoms of COVID-19.
- The room will be cleaned and contact surfaces disinfected once they leave.
- If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available and it needs to be cleaned and contact surfaces disinfected before use by others. Infection Prevention and Control Guidance Emergency Early Years settings providing childcare during COVID-19 V1.2 31.07.2020 HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre http://www.hpsc.ie Page 15 of 20
- There is no requirement to send everyone else in the pod or the staff working the pod home or to disseminate information to all parents at that point. The childcare service will continue to provide care for other children unless there is specific grounds for concern regarding an outbreak for example an unusual number of children or childcare workers with similar symptoms at the same time. If there is a specific concern regarding an outbreak the service should contact the Department of Public Health.
When a child who has needed to stay away from child care for a period is ready to return to childcare the parent/guardian will be asked to provide a brief written declaration that the they are satisfied that the child has recovered, that they have followed any medical advice given regarding staying away from childcare and that they have no reason to believe that the child now represents a particular infection risk to other children or to staff. Childcare workers will use their judgement also in considering if the child is well enough to return to childcare. It is not appropriate to require certification from a medical practitioner.
What will happen if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our childcare setting :
· All individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their GP for further advice.
· If the doctor arranges testing and the test comes back as positive for SARS-CoV2 (COVID-19) they (or their parent) will be contacted by Public Health to identify anyone who has been in close contact with them during the period when they were likely to have been infectious.
· The childcare setting will then be contacted by local Public Health staff of the HSE to discuss the case, identify people who have been in close contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken.
· An assessment of each childcare setting where this may occur will be undertaken by HSE public health staff.
· Advice on the management of children and staff who came into close contact with the case will be based on this assessment.
· The HSE Public Health staff will also be in contact individually with anyone who has been in close contact with the case to provide them with appropriate advice regarding testing and restriction of their movement to reduce the spread of infection.
· Advice on cleaning of communal areas such as classrooms, changing rooms and toilets is outlined later in this document.
· Confirmed COVID-19 cases should continue to self-isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days and should not return to the childcare setting until they are advised that it is safe to do so.
· Close contacts of a confirmed case should go home and restrict their movements for 14 days. They should not attend the childcare facility during that time. They will be offered testing for Infection Prevention and Control Guidance Emergency Early Years settings providing childcare during COVID-19 V1.2 31.07.2020 HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre http://www.hpsc.ie Page 16 of 20 COVID-19 and will need to stay away from the childcare centre for 14 days even if the virus is not detected on the tests. This is because some people who are infected do not have a positive test at the time the test was taken.
- We will not be routinely checking children or staff for high temperatures. Temperature will be tested if a child or a staff member becomes unwell in the service.
- Temperature testing devices will be available in the service as part of standard practice.
- If COVID-19 testing is arranged for a child or staff member by their GP or other medical personnel, the staff member or the parents will be contacted by public health to identify who has been in contact with them. The childcare setting will also be contacted by local public health staff to discuss the case, to identify the close contacts and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. It is not necessary to take any action in relation to closing the service, partially or in full until the service has been contacted by and has discussed the case with local public health staff.
- It may be recommended by the government that children, staff and parents are encouraged to have the seasonal influenza vaccination this coming winter in order to minimise the risks associated with a possible resurgence of Covid-19 during the annual influenza season. The service will support any such recommendation.
- Covid-19 Enhanced Risk Management Policy
This policy has been reviewed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in accordance with HPSC and Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate Guidance and Information on how to plan for reopening and operating as safely as possible at this time.
Covid-19 is a new illness caused by a new coronavirus (SARA-CoV-2) which is spread mainly through tiny droplets scattered from the mouth or nose of a person with the infection. The droplets can be scattered when the infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or laughs. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person’s nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth.
This can happen if
- You come into close contact with someone who has the virus and who is coughing or sneezing
- You touch – with your hands – surfaces or objects that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on, and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes without having washed your hands thoroughly.
COVID-19 is a notifiable disease and must be notified within 3 working days of becoming aware of a notifiable incident. Tusla have developed a Notification Form for COVID-19 which includes additional information regarding the risk of closure as a result of COVID-19. The purpose of this form is to monitor any pending COVID-19 public health issue in early years settings and the continuation of childcare provision.
Risk management and COVID-19
In managing the risks associated with COVID-19 in the service, the risk management process outlined in the service’s Risk Management Policy will be used. The risk management approach will focus on identifying the hazards, the level of risk and the controls to address the risks identified. Risk assessment forms, adapted from ‘DCYA Adapting environments for practice during Covid-19’ will capture the risks identified, the level of risk and the control measures that have been put in place.
Fire Safety: (GN 5.6)
Fire evacuation can be carried out with the entire building during the period of Covid-19.
Daily Risk Assessment
Daily Risk assessment of classrooms, sanitary areas, sleep areas and outdoorshas been enhanced in light of Covid-19
Some of the areas of risk that will be included in the risk management process:
- Visitors / contractors
- People in at risk or in high risk categories
- Pregnant staff
- Staff absenteeism associated with COVID-19
- How staff work together
- How staff and children work together
- The circulation and movement of staff and children in the service
- The drop off and collection of children to and from the service by their parents/carers
- The movement of support staff in the service e.g. administrators, managers
- The engagement of the staff with external contractors, delivery, waste management services
- Spaces – indoor and outdoor including the children’s rooms, outdoor play areas, staff spaces, toilets, kitchen, entrances, reception areas, offices
- Equipment – office, children’s play equipment
- Furniture – staff and children’s furniture
- Toys / books, play materials
Rosters: Management will confirm in advance to staff any changes relating to:
- New staff rosters according to pods and to allow for minimum contamination within the pod.
- Starting and finish times
- Arrangement of teams and how they will work together [where applicable]
Floating/relief people while recognised as essential will be limited as much as possible.
Any changes in staff rosters must be compliant with the adult/child ratios as set out in the Child Care Act 1991 [Early Years Services] Regulations 2016 and the Child Care Act 1991 [Early Years Services] [School Age Children}
Management will confirm to staff the reason for the changes in rosters, start/finish times and break. These arrangements may change in line with further updates regarding COVID-19 issued by the Government, Public Health Office, DCYA or Tusla, the Child & Family Agency. The arrangements will also depend on how the service reopens and children start attending the service.
COVID-19 staff induction training
Before returning to work all staff will have specific training on the following and a record of this training will be maintained.
- COVID-19 including symptoms, modes of transmission and how to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19
- Revised policies such as infection control, risk management
- The Service’s COVID-19 Incident Plan on the actions to be taken if a staff member or child is suspected as having or tests positive for COVID-19
- The revised procedures for drop off and collection of children
- The revised and enhanced procedures for cleaning
- How to set up the play environment in a play pod and to engage and meet the children’s needs
- How to use personal protective equipment in the event of a child or another staff member becoming unwell
COVID-19 Lead staff representative
At least one COVID–19 lead staff representative will be appointed by the employer, to work in partnership with them to assist in the implementation of changes to work practices and infection control measures. This role can be taken up by the service’s Health and Safety Officer. The staff taking up this role will receive training. The roles and responsibilities of this individual will include:
- Working collaboratively with employer/manager to ensure that COVID-19 measures are strictly adhered to
- Being aware of the signs, symptoms, transmission of COVID-19 and preventative measures
- Being familiar with what to do if a staff member or a child develops symptoms while in the service
- Being familiar with all the COVID-19 measures in place in the service
- Keeping up to date with government advice on COVID-19
- Supporting effective communication between staff and management on the COVID-19 health and safety measures in place and how they are working
- Being available to staff for any concerns they may have
- Reporting problem areas or non-compliance to management
- We will conduct meetings as much as possible using online remote means. Where face to face meetings are necessary the length of the meeting should be kept to a minimum and the participants must maintain social distancing of 2 meters at all times or cover their face appropriately.
- Staff members must not gather together in groups in the service or on arrival or when leaving. The service in cooperation with staff will organize the movement of staff in and out of the service to support social distancing
- Parents visiting for meetings with staff should be by appointment when possible and should be facilitated in a way that observes social distancing requirements. Meetings should be arranged to ensure that congregation of parents in waiting areas is minimised for example where parents travel for a meeting by private car they may be invited to remain in the car until staff are ready to meet them.
- It is recommended that staff wear a clean uniform each day and, at the end of the day, that staff go home, shower and put uniform or work clothes in the wash immediately at a temperature of 60°
- It is recommended that staff have some additional clean clothing in the service e.g.in case of spillages
- Hands and fingers are free from jewellery and acrylic nails.
On-going communication and support
- This is an uncertain time with many challenges. Public health advice changes as more is known about COVID-19 so the service will provide ongoing support and communication to keep staff up to date.
- We will provide support for staff who may be suffering from anxiety or stress e.g. may have gone through traumatic events.
- During the COVID-19 period regular ‘support and supervision’ meetings with staff will be carried out by management. Employees should raise any concerns/issues or suggestions.