Re-opening and running sessions safely

Information last updated 12 May 2020 

Re-opening Playcentres and running sessions safely

After almost two months absence, many of us will be returning to our Centres next week.

Communication is very important, and it may be helpful to make it clear to everyone that sessions are being run with the utmost care to ensure a healthy environment.

It is also important the Centres feel confident about re-opening; that they can meet the requirement and operate safely. Families may also need time to settle older children into school so Centres should decide together on the best time to open.

Whenever you open however, please ensure you familiarise yourself with this information to help your re-opening run as smoothly as possible.


This remains critically important. Centres are not expected to maintain social distancing between tamariki, but adults on session should try to observe the one metre rule with one another. Of course, anyone with cold or flu symptoms should not attend Playcentre. Other important ways to maintain good hygiene:

  • Continue to ensure that our tamariki and adults are washing their hands regularly especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, coughing and sneezing. Consider encouraging adults and tamariki to wash their hands after playing outside.
  • Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds will dissolve the protective layer around the coronavirus and kill it.
  • Also ensure that bathroom handbasins and other touch surfaces in bathrooms are regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • Good cough etiquette is also important – teaching tamariki and adults to cough into their elbows will assist in limiting the spread of the virus.
  • Consider keeping hand sanitiser at the exterior doors and by the sign-in area, if not already available.
  • Toys and resources that had been put away prior to lockdown because they cannot be easily wiped down or cleaned frequently can be used again if all children are regularly washing their hands and are staying home if unwell
    • This includes soft toys and dress-ups, playdough and finger paint.
    • Your centre may choose to continue to limit the number and types of resources to make cleaning manageable for your families.
  • Toys should be wiped down at the end of each day. Dress-ups and other fabric items should be regularly laundered. Any item that has been in children’s mouths should be removed from the play space and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Children will continue to have their own food containers and need to be supervised closely to ensure they do not give and take food to and from each other. 
  • If providing food prepared at your Centre, food handlers must adhere to good hygiene practices. Shared platters are not appropriate, but individual proportions could be distributed to children.
  • If you would like to have a shared kai get-together, please ensure at this time the “shared” refers to the group experience, rather than the food. At this point it is important that tamariki and whānau eat the food they have brought themselves, or individual portions provided by the Centre.
  • Make sure that tamariki and adults are not sharing cups, cutlery, plates, etc.

Signing-in for sessions

All centres must sign in via their tablets, including any visitors. This is also very important for ensuring everyone who enters a Centre is identified. It is crucial for contact tracing if any cases of coronavirus are detected among Playcentre whānau or contacts.


Before and between sessions

Over the past few weeks, we have learnt much more about the coronavirus, particularly how long it can remain on surfaces. When using disinfectant, you need to consider the situation.

If spraying something that is going to continue to be used for the session (e.g. nappy change table) the disinfectant needs to sit on the surface for at least 10 seconds before you wipe it off for it to be effective.  

However, where you are cleaning things at the end of the session – such as spraying surfaces, tabletops, toilets, sinks, taps, door handles, handrails, rubbish bin lids – the disinfectant should be sprayed on, and preferably left to air dry overnight.

Where another session is coming in after yours, try and keep the disinfectant on for 30 minutes before wiping off. Prior to opening, take time to identify any high-risk areas in your Centre that should be cleaned regularly throughout a session in addition to those listed below.

  • Centres should always be ensuring that surfaces within their Centre are cleaned after every session. Where there are two sessions in one day, the Centre must be cleaned between sessions.
  • Make sure that the following areas/items are being cleaned every session/between session:
    • Tables and other surfaces that people are regularly using
    • Door handles, gate latches and areas of the door/gate where little people might push it open
    • Handrails
    • Toilets and taps
    • Any items or toys that get put in the mouth or coughed on – baby items, blocks, toy figures, paint brushes, dress ups, etc.
    • Tablets – Disinfectant wipes with a 70% isopropyl alcohol-base can be used on the tablets, otherwise spray a nonabrasive/antimicrobial or alcohol-based (70% isopropyl) disinfectant directly on a soft lint-free cloth and wipe down your device while it is powered down and unplugged.
  • Make sure that used tissues are disposed of appropriately in a rubbish bin.
  • If you are using a disinfectant make sure it says it is antiviral and follow the instructions. It is important that disinfectant sits on the surface for about 10 seconds before being wiped off to enable it to work.
  • If Centres are unable to procure suitable cleaning products to maintain hygiene they may need to close. The Centre should contact their regional Centre Support Coordinator in order to discuss the situation.
  • The health requirements around heating have changed, and the minimum temperature for all Centres is now 18 deg. You may need to adjust timer settings on your heaters to ensure you can meet this temperature prior to the start of session. All centres need to ensure that thermometers are located 500mm from the ground in the main play space and in any sleep spaces to monitor the temperature. If you have concerns that your centre may not be able to meet this new requirement, please let your Regional Property Coordinator know.

Outdoor environments

  • Outdoor play areas can be used, including sandpits
  • Sanitise handrails and other high traffic parts of playground at least once per session.

Visitors and Hireage

As Centres go back, there will a lot of time spent settling in children in the initial period. This is probably not a good time for visitors to Centres. Anyone wishing to visit at this time could be politely reminded of the reason, but at the same time encouraged to visit or enrol after a Centre has got back to normal.

Under Level 2, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, so it is unlikely anyone would be looking at hiring a Centre. If a smaller group did want to hire premises, it would be important that they all agree to meet cleaning requirements.

Sanitisers and Disinfectant

Public Health recommends the use of bleach as a disinfectant. Bleaches contain sodium hypochlorite, the chemical which kills bacteria and viruses. The Ministry of Health recommends use of a disinfectant that has at least 2% hypochlorite. More info on using bleach as a disinfectant can be found on the MoE website <link>