Pandemic planning

As you will no doubt be aware, COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) has now been declared a pandemic.

The Ministry of Health has reinforced that this doesn’t change anything for New Zealand and our response to the virus.  The Ministry of Health has been working through its pandemic plan since January.

It is also reassuring that children appear to be at a lower risk for contracting the virus.

Illnesses

The Illness, Injury, and Incident Procedure (9.4.1) outlines the basic details of what to do for any illness, as well what to do if there is a pandemic.

If people are ill and exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, they should not come to the centre and should make contact with their doctor via phone. It is recommended they also contact the centre to advise that they are unwell. COVID-19 is a notifiable illness, so if someone in your centre contracts it you will need to notify your regional Public Health Service, and the Ministry of Education. If someone connected to your centre is diagnosed outside the centre, the Public Health Service will contact you with information on next steps.

For Playcentres, the initial prevention stages of the pandemic planning are cleaning, hygiene and common sense to minimise the chances of infection and contain any cases.

Our regional and national offices are preparing for the possibility of being required to work from home. For most office-based roles this will be possible and managers will discuss with individual employees if necessary.

If there is an outbreak of the pandemic within your area, then it is highly likely that centres will be required to close.  In this situation parents will need to keep their children at home. This decision would usually be made by Ministry of Health officials.  If your centre is forced to close, the Regional office will contact Ministry of Education as soon as possible to request Emergency funding.

  • Centres need to consider if their centre is going to be closed for an extended period of time, what would need to happen to ensure the centre is secure during that time:
    • Turn off unnecessary plugs and switches
    • Empty kettles or other bodies of water
    • Remove any food that may spoil
    • Ensure that there is a plan for any centre pets/fish (to be taken home by a family, or one person designated to come in and feed them)
    • One or two people designated to check in every few days to ensure centre is still secure.
    • Using online systems to ensure the basic monthly bills continue to be paid.
    • Put a sign on the door to advise that the centre is closed, with a phone number of who to contact for enquiries.

 

  • Also consider how to stay in touch with your members during the time the centre is closed – this may be via a Facebook page or other social media, a group email, skype/zoom catch up or using a phone tree to check in with each other every so often. Keeping in touch with your Playcentre community will help in dealing with potential stress and isolation during this difficult time.
  • Designate a key contact person to liaise with centre members, regional office, and where necessary Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health. This may be your President, Centre Health and Safety Officer, Privacy Officer or another reliable member.

 

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.