Covid 19 and the Early Childhood Development sector

Hugs & Kisses falls under the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector, which reports to the Department of Social Development (DSD).  With the Covid 19 pandemic, DSD has drawn up a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines for Early Childhood Development Programmes on measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of Covid 19. 

There are still many unknowns about Covid 19.  The statistics and emerging medical data suggest that the virus has a far weaker impact on children and they are for some reason not as likely to transmit it.  DSD have provided a very helpful document: Covid explained to parents of young children   which explains what Covid 19 is, how it spreads and the measures needed to prevent the spreading of Covid 19.

In essence Covid 19, which causes respiratory infections, is spread by:

  • Coughing and sneezing – you can contract Covid 19 if you are standing within 1.5 metres of an infected person, by breathing in droplets coughed or exhaled by an infected person.
  • Close personal contact with an infected person, such as shaking hands or touching others, or touching a surface on which the virus has settled, then – before washing your hands – touching your mouth, nose or eyes. 

The primary symptoms of Covid 19 infection are:

  • Fever (above 37.5˚C)
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Loss of smell and/or taste
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness / aches and pains.

Infections can cause severe symptoms in people over 60 and people (or children) with compromised immune systems (including diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung disease)

If you contract Covid 19, it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms to develop.  You must inform the Principal, followed by your medical practitioner if you present with Covid 19 symptoms.  Covid 19 infections need to be reported to the Covid 19 hotline:  0800 029 999

 

  • What to do if you come into contact with a person who has Covid 19.

 

All close contacts of a confirmed Covid 19 case (parents / child / staff member) are required to inform the Principal, and you and your child are required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days,  Close contact means being within 1.5 meters of a person who has tested positive.  We will also take guidance from the Department of Health and other relevant authorities.

Covid explained to parents of young children

It has been a long road getting Hugs & Kisses Covid 19 ready.  The Department of Social Development (DSD) inspection of Hugs & Kisses on 20 July 2020 has declared our stringent Covid 19 protocols as being fully compliant with DSD’s Standard Operating Procedures (see the certificate here), so we are ready for our reopening on 3 August 2020.

We have made a video which shows your children what the changes are and what to expect when coming back to Hugs and Kisses. We recommend that you watch the video with your child. It includes views of the daily Covid 19 screening, the sanitising and hand washing stations and the social distancing measures put in place, as well as the disinfecting fogging of Hugs & Kisses. The video also details what parents are requested to send in with their children and the zip-lock bags to be used.

Hugs & Kisses has developed detailed procedures, aligned to the DSD’s Standard Operating Procedures.  Our staff have undergone extensive training regarding the implementation of these procedures.  In addition our teachers have undergone Covid Workplace Readiness Training.  Our cook has successfully completed a Basic Food Handling and Kitchen Hygiene certificate dealing with the prevention of Covid 19 transmission in the whole food handling cycle.

Very important, in terms of DSD procedures, there are three documents that need to be completed and emailed back to sue@hugsandkisses.co.za before we can accept your child back into Hugs & Kisses.  The three documents are:

Appendix A

Covid 19 Transmission Indemnity Form

Appendix B

Learner Health Questionnaire

Appendix C

Weekly Learners Screening Questionnaire

Entrance screening

There will be two time slots for children to be screened: 

  • Owls class and Tiggers class from 07:00 to 07:30
  • Teddies class and Fishes class from 07:30 to 08:00
  • Children arriving after 08:00 will not be accepted – the teachers have to go to their classes. Only children who have joined the queue by 08:00 will be screened.
  • The front gate will not be used in the morning.  Covid 19 screening of parents and children will take place at the double green gates that open onto the playground.
  • No parent is allowed to enter the school, to limit the risk of the transmission of Covid 19.  Parents are only allowed in by appointment to see a teacher.  
  • Parents must accompany their child for the screening.  No drop and go is allowed. Parents must wear a mask.
  • For children of 5 years or younger, masks are not a requirement, but are optional.  We recommend a bucket hat with a soft plastic visor.  
  • The parent will be asked Covid 19 symptom questions and both the parent and the child will have their temperature taken and recorded on the class register.
  • If either the parent or the child register a temperature of above 37.5˚C, or the child shows any symptoms or signs of illness, the child will be sent home and will be required to stay away from school for 14 days.  He/she will then only be allowed back after a negative Covid 19 test.
  • For this reason, please take your child’s temperature at home before coming to school and check your child for any other symptoms. If the temperature is above 37.5˚C, keep your child at home for two days or until there are no further symptoms.  If the illness persists, please consult your doctor.
  • Your child will have her hands and feet sanitized, then an assistant will take your child to his/her class
  • All staff are screened for symptoms and have their temperature recorded on arrival, plus temperature checks at mid-day and when they leave
  • Staff will wear a mask, or a face visor at all times.  Staff doing the screening will wear a mask and a visor.
  • School bags will not be permitted in the school.  We ask instead if you can use large clear zip-lock bags, with your child’s name, which can be sanitized.
  • We ask that you put two changes of clothing in zip-lock bag.   This will stay at school until used.  
  • Please bring a blanket (size 125cm x 150cm) sealed in a zip-lock bag.  These blankets can be bought at Pick n Pay, Mr Price, Crazy Store, Makro.
  • If applicable, a sealed pack of nappies, wet wipes, pull-up pants and a sealed jar of special nappy cream etc. must be sent in a sealed Ziplock bag.  These will not be sent home at night.  We will inform you when you need to restock.
  • The medicine authorisation form must be emailed to sue@hugsandkisses.co.za (download from our website).  Paper copies will not be accepted.  Medicines to be sent in a zip-lock bag.
  • If you need to leave a car seat for someone else fetching your child, please place it in a black refuse bag.  
  • Please bring in a new sports water bottle for your child, preferably a clear bottle, marked with his/her name.
  • Please bring in a new container of sun block, with his/her name.
  • No toys may be brought to school.
  • For their birthday ring, please only send a sealed pack of mini cupcakes from the supermarket.  No cakes and no candles.  No parents or relatives may attend.  We will send you a video.
  • Friday baking will not be sent home.  The children will eat it at school as the desert for the Friday lunch.
  • Please ensure your child’s nails are cut short and are clean.
  • Please tie up girls’ hair, to avoid them touching their faces.  Please also send in your child’s own hairbrush, spare clips and elastics if applicable.
  • You will be pleased to note that Hugs & Kisses will supply all the toiletry requirements for the rest of the year (toilet rolls, tissues and kitchen towel).  We will not be requesting contributions from parents: 
  • Half day children need to be collected by 14:30, and full day children by 16:30.            The earlier closing time is to allow time for the staff to sanitize the school in preparation for the next day.
  • Collection of children (both half day and full day), will happen through the main entrance.
  • Parents are not allowed to enter the school.  An assistant will go to the classroom to collect your child, record his/her temperature and sanitize his/her hands. 

Staff who display symptoms or temperature readings above 37.5˚C will be requested to go home and get checked out by a doctor.

Each child will have their temperature taken before morning nap, after waking up and before home time, with the readings recorded.  Children will be monitored for out of the ordinary behaviour, which may indicate the start of an illness.  

If the child displays the start of any illness, or registers a temperature above 37.5˚C, he/she will be taken to the isolation room.  Symptoms and temperature readings are recorded.

The child will wear a mask when being moved to or from the isolation room, but does not need to wear one in the isolation room.  The school has additional masks for this purpose.

Parents will be immediately contacted, informing them that their child is displaying signs of illness and needs to be taken home.  The child is to be collected within an hour of being phoned.  Details of the call are recorded in the Isolation Room register.  A doctor’s clearance is required for the child to return to school.

A staff member with first aid training must stay with the children until they get collected by their parents.  The staff member must wear a mask, a face visor, gloves and a plastic apron.

The door of the isolation room is always kept closed and the fan switched to facilitate ventilation.

After a child has been fetched by his/her parents, intensive sanitization will be performed of the entire room.

When a child has to be taken from a class to the isolation room, the following process in the class kicks in:

  • All the children are moved out of the classroom and all their hands are washed.
  • All tables and chairs are disinfected and the floor is washed.
  • The Compliance Officer and the Health and Safety Officer are notified

In keeping with patient/medical confidentiality ethics, if a staff member or a child test positive for Covid 19, their identity may not be revealed.  However the Principal and the Health and Safety officer must be informed immediately on diagnosis in all such cases.  Contact tracing will take place, while maintaining confidentiality.

  • The classrooms have been arranged to ensure there is adequate social distancing.
  • The children will be seated 1.5 metre apart.  Where necessary, perspex screens will be used on tables to enable social distancing.
  • The floor has been marked for the social distancing of the children during ring time.
  • Children have been allocated their own stationery in a box marked with their name.  Each child has their own playdough.  Other toys and equipment will be sanitized after use, before being allocated to another child to play with.  There will be no sharing of toys.
  • We are no longer using the communication notebooks.  All classroom communication with parents will happen via WhatsApp – some on the General group, and more personal issues via private WhatsApp.
  • Classroom surfaces are regularly sanitized during the day and after school.
  • Toys that are difficult to sanitize have been packed away.
  • Children will be required to wash their hands with soap and clean water throughout the day (supervised) after activities, particularly after going to the bathroom and when eating.  We have three outside hand washing stations with soap and water and paper towels.
  • Only paper towels are used to dry hands, with the used towel being thrown away after one use.  No face cloths are being used.  We use wet wipes for the face, supplied by us.
  • Toilets are sanitized after each child has used it.
  • Mattresses and cots will be laid out in such a way such that children sleep head to toe, ensuring 1.5 metre social distancing between the heads of the sleeping children.
  • Each child has their own, labelled mattress and their own labelled blankets.
  • Mattress covers are regularly washed, and are stored in a mattress stacker with spaces between each mattress.
  • Structured outside activities are undertaken in order to better social distancing control. 
  • The number of children climbing on playground equipment will be restricted to ensure social distancing.  Outside equipment is sanitized before and after use.
  • The sandpits will not be opened for the children. 
  • The cook has completed a Food Handlers Course covering procedures to mitigate the spread of Covid 19. 
  • The kitchen is a very sterile environment with very strict sanitizing controls.  Only the cook is allowed to enter the kitchen.
  • Children will eat in their classroom, seated socially distant from each other.  There will be no sharing of food.
  • Each child has their own water bottle which stays at school.  These are washed daily.
  • Strict sanitization guidelines will ensure we maintain a safe environment for all.
  • The disinfecting of “hot spot” areas (hand rails, door handles, light switches, bathrooms etc.) will be carried out frequently during the day.
  • All classrooms will be sanitized before the start of the new day.
  • During the day, classrooms will be sanitized during outside playtime, after sleep time.
  • Windows will be open and fans used to ensure good ventilation.
  • Waste bins will be emptied regularly.
  • Each classroom will have a supply of paper towels, wet wipes, tissue and sanitizers.
  • There are prominent displays of posters and bulletins around the school to create awareness amongst the staff and children regarding the prevention and control of Covid 19. 
  • Regular cleaning and sanitizing of all surfaces, toys and equipment, toilets etc. will take place throughout the day.