Attendance at centres

In general, we should not be excluding people or limiting attendance at this time. Attached is a sign that you can post at the door of your centre or on your gate to remind people who may be at risk not to come to your centre at this time. We need to remember that while we can ask people at risk to stay away, at this time we cannot exclude them.

However, if you do have reasonable grounds to believe that any person has an infectious or contagious disease or condition, then you must exclude that person from the centre and from coming into contact with children.

This is required by regulation 57 of the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008.

People who are designated at risk should self-isolate for 14 days:

  • Anyone who has returned from overseas within the last 14 days.
  • If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 you should self-isolate for 14 days from the date of close contact.

What if you have centre members who have family/friends living with them who need to self isolate?  The people who do not meet the criteria above do not need to self isolate – as long as they are able to avoid situations where they have face-to-face contact closer than 1.5 metres for more than 15 minutes.  They should also avoid sharing eating and drinking utensils, and sheets, towels, etc.  We recommend that you discuss staying away from the centre with these members, and/or ask them to ensure that they are being extra vigilant with hygiene, however they are not required to.

Absences

Where families choose to be absent but are not required to be (due to illness or requirements to self-isolate), centres will receive funding, as usual, for up to 3 weeks of continuous absences. Beyond this the centre will not receive funding. However, if the absence is due to a requirement to self-isolate, or actual illness that lasts longer than 3 weeks, you are able to claim funding for up to 12 weeks – as per Extended Absences advice on the website.

We should also be respectful if people are concerned or anxious about the possibility of illness and be understanding if they wish to avoid Playcentre for a period – especially where they or a close family member has additional health issues.  We would recommend holding space for the family for at least a month – and longer if this will not cause issues for your centre (due to having waiting lists etc).

Extended Absences due to COVID-19

Where a child or children are away from the centre for a period longer than three weeks due to:

  • Being unable to return from overseas due to travel restrictions imposed due to COVID-19
  • Needing to be self-isolating for 14 days following a prior absence (following overseas travel or contact with a known case)

 Or

  • Due to contracting the virus and needing to be away during recovery

we are able to receive funding for their absences for a longer period (up to 12 weeks).

In order to access this the centre must complete an EC12. These can be found here

Any supporting correspondence, such as emails from parents or caregivers should be kept along with the form. Once completed, ensure your Centre Admin has a copy so that they can add it to Discover.

If you need to provide advice to members who speak other languages, the Ministry of Health has resources in many languages on their website. Google translate can also be used if needed for other languages.

If we have members who are self-isolating, or required to be absent, please consider how your Playcentre community can support them – dropping off meals, picking up groceries for them, taking round a new book or toy (following hygiene and distancing guidelines). Stay in touch with the families during this time.

Closing the Centre/Lack of qualified personnel

Centres should maintain strong communication with their regional offices if they are considering closing their centre or are having difficulties meeting requirements.

Centres may be considering closing their sessions to help minimise the opportunities for community transmission of COVID-19 or due to lacking the people required to meet licensing/funding requirements.

Where there is a lack of qualified personnel, centres should continue to follow the Insufficient Licensing/ Discretionary days process – to ensure sessions are still safe to run, and access discretionary funding when available. This can be for consecutive days, and centres should clarify why the qualified people are away on the forms.  If centres have used all their discretionary days, they will still need to follow the process if they wish to run sessions on those days.

At this stage, the decision to close the centre for a period is up to the centre members, and should be made via the centre’s usual consultation processes. If the centre decides to close for a period of time they need to contact their Centre Admin, CSW and regional office asap to advise them of this decision.

The table below outlines the impacts of different options:

Scenario

Impact on Bulkfunding

Impact on Centre-paid staff

Centre chooses to close – as a preventative measure.

Playcentre as a whole will receive no bulkfunding for the period they are closed.

Centre will need to continue to pay usual wage costs for any centre-paid staff during this period. The wage subsidy announced by the Govt will not apply to this situation. This would need to be reviewed after 4 weeks and ongoing closure may have employment implications.

Centre needs to close due to a lack of qualified personnel

If centre stays open they can apply for discretionary funding. If they close Playcentre as a whole will receive no bulkfunding for the period they are closed

Centre will need to continue to pay usual wage costs – if leave taken usual processes will apply. If personnel are required to be away then wage subsidy may be able to be applied for by national to support this cost.

Centre remains open – qualified personnel (incl First Aid) are present but no children attend

Centre can still claim funded absences for children, as centre is open and able to provide service. If not all qualified personnel present, could apply for discretionary funding.

Centre will need to continue to pay usual wage costs for any centre-paid staff during this period.

Medical Officer of Health closes centre

Emergency Funding likely to be granted (although decision is up to MoE)

Centre will need to continue to pay usual wage costs for any centre-paid staff during this period. Wage subsidy may be applicable.

Ministry of Education/ Govt order centres to close

It is likely that there would be some type of funding package in this scenario, but we do not know what that might be at this time

Centre will need to continue to pay usual wage costs for any centre-paid staff during this period. Wage subsidy may be applicable.

 

If you are considering closing your centre, or asking a member to stay home, due to a possible contact with COVID-19 consider the following:

  • keep calm
  • balance the likelihood of risk with common sense
  • consider where the ‘person of concern’ has travelled and when they returned, or how they were exposed and how long ago
  • consider whether the person of concern is showing any symptoms or has been tested
  • consider how far removed the centre member is from the person of concern and whether they were within 1.5 metres for more than 15 minutes
  • consider whether cleanliness regimes are being followed in centre
  • consider whether distancing recommendations can be followed in centre

Discuss the matter calmly and respectively with the centre member(s), and follow the current advice given by  Playcentre in the COVID-19 section and the Ministry of Health website.

If the decision is made to close your centre you will need to:

  • advise your Regional office as soon as possible
  • appoint a contact person that will liaise between the regional office and your centre members.
  • Ensure you have set up a way to communicate amongst members
  • Set a review date when you will review the decision to be closed
  • Ensure the centre is secure and any things that could spoil or cause damage to the centre are removed.
  • Ensure centre pets/fish are being taken care of.

 

We recommend regularly checking the Ministry of Education website, as it updates information and advice for the education sector and the Ministry of Health website for ongoing advice regarding COVID-19 and its progression within New Zealand.