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Early Childhood Alert 23 April 2020

The MoE has issued more instructions, including on operating requirements for different services types, and more details on how to implement public health measures within your ECE service. The ministry's latest newsletter can be found here.

The Ministry has advised that from Tuesday 28th (not Wednesday as previously stated), all licensed services, excluding playcentres, are expected to be able to be open for physical attendance, for children of workers who are unable to organise at home care. ECE services now don't have to have a teacher-only day, unlike schools. However, at this late stage, this could cause problems for many services who have already contacted parents regarding starting date. It will cause problems for ECE teachers with school children - where are their children to go on Tuesday? It's great to have the choice to open on Tuesday but if it's not going to work for your service to open on Tuesday 28th, it can remain closed or you can still have a teacher only day on Tuesday.

In this newsletter

  1. What was behind the Early Childhood Council business group’s push to make government keep all ECE centres closed
  2. Copy of a service's operating procedures for covid-19 Alert Level 3 
  3. The countdown to re-opening fully is on
  4. Staff wages in teacher-led centres
  5. Employer obligations for staff health and safety
  6. ANZAC day early childhood activities and ideas for young children

  

1. Behind the Early Childhood Council business group’s push to make government keep all ECE centres closed

On Sunday 19th April, a quiet news day and on the eve of the PM’s announcement as to whether NZ would be moving out of lockdown, a business group representative Peter Reynolds, took to the media and said ‘Don't re-open ECE centres under level 3’. 

> What was actually going on behind the scenes?

 

2. Copy of a service's operating procedures for covid-19 Alert Level 3

A copy of the procedures developed by one of our members for operating under Alert Level 3 is available to help you and your team in thinking about and developing your service's procedures. Thank you to Whenuakite Country Kids!  

It has just been updated today following the release of further ministry advice. So, if you have already looked at, please check that you have the latest version.

>  Go to the document here 

 

3. The countdown to re-opening fully is on

All ECE centres re-open on Tuesday 28th (not Wednesday as previously advised by the Ministry). 

Just a reminder - Without children and the community there would be no ECE, so it’s our turn now to be there for children and the community.

Home-based educators will be able to welcome all their children back.

Centres must keep group sizes to 10 children – and we suggest you do not increase bubbles to up to 20 children until your centre has had a week’s experience of implementing the requirements and reviewed and evaluated practices.

Staff who are vulnerable or have other concerns are advised to stay home during Alert Level 3. Children who can stay home are advised to stay home, and this may help to keep numbers manageable so any parent who wants or needs to have their child in ECE, can.

The now 9 working days centres have been given in Alert Level 3 is immensely valuable time. This time allows centres to get into the routine of implementing new safety procedures with small child numbers. We’ll see very small groups of children and teachers in beautiful spaces, who are getting things running well before everyone goes back to ECE, to work and/or to study at Alert Level 2.

Should no children attend during Alert Level 3, centres can still open for staff who may find it easier to work at the centre creating resources, developing online experiences (some staff have little or no connectivity at home), writing up inquiries and doing on-line professional learning and development. It will be a good time to catch up on things like performance appraisals and policy reviews (go to the April ECE newspaper edition and see the sections on ideas of what staff can do for the service and for their own professional development).

Should a parent need ECE and your service cannot provide it, funding cannot be claimed for children who are no longer enrolled with you.

Centres that, for whatever reason, don’t reopen in Alert Level 3 should consider and would be wise to keep the size of children’s bubbles initially small and put time into developing good processes (at least for the first week of operating under level 2).

FYI: Funding, funding returns, charging parent fees, school children on premises, staffing and other guidance was sent to ECE service providers last night by the Ministry of Education. If you missed this, you can find out more here and read and add to the teacher, education and service provider discussion  

 

4. Staff wages in teacher-led centres

The Ministry of Education has confirmed, what ChildForum has advised, that services always need to meet attested salary rates for employing a higher proportion of qualified and certificated teachers. A service’s funding rate will drop if it has not.

With teachers’ returning and many questioning whether it is in their interests to stay working in ECE, now is a time to focus on teacher retention and support.  Engage in pay reviews and provide a timeline for wage increases and promotions or other positions that teachers may look toward achieving.

The Ministry of Education will also need to prepare to raise attestation rates with government funding support asap when everything gets back up and running; and ChildForum and the ECE Teacher Pay Parity Steering Group will be doing more on this.

 

5. Employer obligations for staff health and safety

Worksafe has recommended that every workplace has a plan for restarting under alert level 3, that covers:

  • Are there any risks arising from restarting your business or a business activity that has been shut down during alert level 4, and how will you manage these?
  • How will you ensure all workers know how and are able to keep themselves safe from exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you gather information on the wellness of your workers to ensure that they are safe and well to work?
  • How will you operate your business in a way that keeps workers and others safe from exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you manage an exposure or suspected exposure to COVID-19?
  • How will you evaluate, and continuously review, whether your work processes or risk controls are effective?
  • How do any changes impact on the risks of the work you do?

> Go to Worksafe's staff safety plan guidelines 

 

6.  ANZAC DAY early childhood activities and ideas for young children

Get this recipe that's just perfect for children for making ANZAC biscuits

See also the range of different activities for learning and teaching about ANZAC day, and links to some further interesting ECE readings e.g. on gun play.

> Go to the ECE ANZAC article for members

 

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