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.
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.
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.