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OSHC and child care services – COVID-19 advice

(This page was last updated on 23 April 2020.)

This COVID-19 advice is for staff at specific types of child care. This includes:

  • out of school hours care (OSHC)
  • vacation care
  • long day care.

It applies to private and government-run services. It does not include family day care businesses.

See the Australian Government’s COVID-19 frequently asked questions for early childhood education and care providers for more advice.

Social distancing

Where possible, follow the social distancing guidance issued by the Australian Government.

Indoor and outdoor areas – increase their use

Make sure the indoor and outdoor areas on the school site can be used by children at your service and keep as many areas open as possible.

Talk to your school’s staff about extra indoor and outdoor spaces. You might need to ask for a waiver from the Education Standards Board. 

Think about running a program that lets children move freely between the indoor and outdoor spaces. Use lots of time outdoors.

Give children plenty of space

  • Stagger the timing of morning teas and lunches.
  • Only have small groups of children. Try to avoid large groups.
  • Make room for more space between children. Do this at mealtimes and for indoor activities.

Drop-off and pick-up times

At drop-off or pick-up times, make sure families and carers do not bring other children into the service.

Ask them to arrange things so younger children are not left in a car.

Explaining to children

You should talk to children about social distancing. You can:

  • ask what is ok and what is not ok
  • use analogies or guidelines, for example pretend you have a bubble around you or show how to keep an arm’s length apart (stretch your arms out wide).

Handwashing and hygiene – teaching children

Teach children handwashing techniques and personal hygiene. You can use a familiar song or rhyme to time hand washing. For example, sing 'Happy Birthday' twice.

Place posters on the service gate and on the grounds. This can reinforce the preventative practices at the service. For example, 'Know the signs' and 'Stop the spread'.

Mental health

Supporting your staff

To help your staff feel less anxious you can: 

  • Regularly share up-to-date information. 
  • Listen carefully to their concerns.
  • Be flexible about how you meet their needs.
  • Guide staff to their social, health and community supports. For example, their GP or counselling services.

Mental health support services

Financial help

The Australian Government has financial support for those affected by COVID-19. This includes:

  • families and children using child care
  • child care services and employees. 

See the information for early childhood education and care providers and services on Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments from 6 April 2020.

Employees can find out about financial support through Services Australia.

Support for businesses

The Australian Government has financial support for businesses.

If you think you need to close your service, contact the Education Standards Board to talk about your options.

Staffing issues

Keeping your service open and protecting educators 

You might have educators who do not want provide care. You can change the roles and responsibilities for educators who are at risk. For example, anyone who:

  • is in a high risk age
  • has an underlying medical condition.

Difficultly meeting staffing requirements

If your service is finding it hard to meet qualification or ratio staffing requirements, you can apply through the NQA IT system for a waiver. 

See the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more advice.

Service closures and your employees

Employers should always seek industrial advice when making decisions that will affect people’s employment. Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Low attendance numbers

If you do not have enough children coming in, there are some actions you should do.

  • Follow your service’s booking cancellation policies.
  • See support for businesses to find out how the Australian Government can help.

Relief package payments – staying open or closing

To receive relief package payments your service must stay open, unless closed because of:

  • public health advice
  • other health and safety reasons.

See the information for early childhood education and care providers and services on Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package payments from 6 April 2020.

Service closures due to COVID-19 – the process

Confirming a child or staff member has COVID-19

SA Health will contact the OSHC service to confirm the presence of a COVID-19 case. Sometimes a staff member or parent will also advise the OSHC service of a positive test result. You must keep this strictly confidential until more action is confirmed by the relevant government authority.

Notify leadership

  1. OSHC director must call the principal immediately.
  2. Principal contacts the education director.

Closing the site

The service must close for at least 24 hours. Families will need to pick up children immediately. A case manager from the Department for Education will help manage the closure. They will support the:

  • OSHC director or third party OSHC provider
  • principal.

This will either be on site or over the phone.

Closure will allow public health officials to work with the service provider to identify and notify any close contacts. They can then advise on treatment and self-isolation.

Emergency contact details – prepare a list

To be prepared, make sure you have the current email addresses and mobile phone numbers for parents and carers of all children enrolled at the service. Check their emergency contact details are correct.

Notify the Australian Government and the Education Standards Board

If a closure happens, the service should:

  • notify the Australian Government – use the service’s third party software
  • notify the Education Standards Board – use the NQAITS Portal.

Cleaning and reopening of the site

The site will be thoroughly cleaned. It will only reopen:

  • on the advice of health experts
  • when it is safe to do so.

More information

General members of the public can call the South Australia COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787 (8am to 8pm, 7 days a week) or visit www.sa.gov.au/covid-19.

Visit the Australian Government’s website for regular updates on the early childhood education and care package.

Contact

Parents and carers should contact their school or preschool at first.

COVID-19 (coronavirus) team

Emaileducation.covidcoordination [at] sa.gov.au