The Ministry of Health and Wellness has produced and disseminated protocols which will guide the reopening of day nurseries and pre-schools across the island next week.
The document, which may be downloaded here, outlines the strategies for the safe management and operation of these facilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The guidelines acknowledge the challenges in the day care environment, including enforcing physical distancing, sharing of toys and the use of playground structures.
To minimize these risks, operators are being encouraged to create “a bubble-like environment” where children will be restricted to individual groups. These bubbles or small groups aim to limit any potential spread of disease and allow for easy contact tracing and remediation.
Each caregiver or teacher must strictly adhere to the 1:6 ratio of caregiver to children under two years old, and the 1:12 ratio of caregiver to child in the case of children two years and older.
Once placed in a group, children and the caregiver must stay within that group, with downtime, playtime and mealtime taking place within the specified groups.
The document adds: “As much as practical, these groups are not to mix, occupy the playground or any other space at the same time.”
Other guidelines state that each group will have assigned toys, which will be cleaned and disinfected after use, and toys should remain with the individual child as much as is practical. Areas must be cleaned and disinfected after each group leaves.
Nurseries are allowed 25 square feet per child of usable floor space and if nap time is done on the floor, all mats should be placed a minimum of three feet apart.
Everyone entering the day care centres and pre-schools must wash or sanitize their hands and operators have also been advised to take temperatures. Any person with a temperature over 99 degrees F or 37.5 degrees C should be denied entry.
The protocols state that staff must be provided with face masks, which should be worn at all times. Face shields are required for any activity which involves the caregiver or teacher to be within three feet or less of a child for long periods of time, for example, when feeding, bathing or changing diapers.
It is recommended that, as much as is practicable, only one person be allowed to drop off and pick up the child and that person is required to wear a face mask. Operators are advised to display signage detailing procedures for drop off and pick up in areas which are clearly visible to parents and guardians.
Until further notice, all field trips are suspended unless authorized by the Child Care Board. Day nurseries and pre-schools have been advised to implement school absenteeism monitoring systems to track both students and staff, and to alert the Ministry of Health and Wellness of any significant increases in absenteeism due to respiratory illnesses.
To download the protocols for the reopening of day nurseries & pre-schools, you may click here.