Public health guidelines for kindergartens published

The public health authorities have released safety guidelines for kindergartens to limit the risk of COVID-19 spread

The school experience will not be the same when children return to school in September as health guidelines recommend social distancing and no mixing of students from different classrooms
The school experience will not be the same when children return to school in September as health guidelines recommend social distancing and no mixing of students from different classrooms

Kinder 1 class sizes must not exceed 15 students and Kinder 2 classrooms must not have more than 19 children, according to public health guidelines.

In both year groups, a social distance of 1.5m between students should be applied and educators and children must remain in the same classroom bubble.

The guidelines will now have to be translated into protocols for each kindergarten facility by the education authorities.

Kinder students will not be required to wear masks, not even in common areas. However, the students aged over three should wear masks or visors when making use of school common areas and on school transport. 

For vulnerable children, the public health guidelines place the onus on parents to decide whether their child should attend kinder or not after consulting their doctor and school management.

Just like the recommendation for primary and secondary schools, kindergarten centres have to stagger arrivals and departures to avoid mixing of students from different bubbles. Parents will not be allowed into kindergarten centres and upon entry, children will have their temperature taken and asked to wash or sanitise their hands.

Schools are slated to reopen for students on 30 September and administrators are rushing to adapt the public health guidelines to the individual schools and classrooms.

Public health guidelines for primary and secondary schools were published earlier this month, leaving kindergarten educators questioning how they will operate with an approaching school deadline.

Salient points from kindergarten health recommendations

  • Children should be kept at a distance of 1.5m fromn each other.
  • Class size for Kinder 1 must not exceed 15.
  • Class size for Kinder 2 must not exceed 19.
  • Educators shall wear a mask or visor at all times.
  • No mixing from different bubbles/cohorts both indoors and outdoors.
  • Respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene and enhanced cleaning are measures which need to be meticulously adhered to.
  • Children over 3 years of age should be advised to wear masks or visors in the common areas and on school transport but this is not necessary within their own classrooms or when they are in the presence of the members of the same bubble/cluster or when students are exercising.
  • Enforce the policy of staying home if unwell for both students and staff members.
  • Parents of vulnerable children should discuss the child’s attendance at the kindergarten with their doctor and with school management, in order to assess the level of risk of school attendance. The decision to attend rests with the parents/guardians of the child.
  • Schools must consider staggering arrival and drop off times and direct contact with parents should be limited as much as possible.
  • On arrival children need to be escorted straight to their classroom after having their temperature taken and hands sanitised.
  • Unauthorised personnel are not allowed in the kindergarten except children, authorised staff and management. No parents or guardians are to be allowed in the kindergarten at any time, including in reception.
  • Non-essential belongings such as personal toys, shall be prohibited apart from toys or educational material which are specifically designed to stimulate children with disabilities or special needs and can be easily cleaned/wiped.
  • If possible, at nap time (if applicable), ensure that children’s mats are spaced out as much as possible, ideally 2m apart. Consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread.

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