COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

22 December 2020

As the situation is changeable, we have created frequently asked questions (FAQ) to address common concerns. We will update this page as new information becomes available.

How can families contact ECMS if they are concerned about COVID-19?

We have set up a dedicated phone number and email for your COVID-19 questions:

  • 1300 344 969 will be updated daily with any up-to-date or closure information. It will also give you an option to speak to an ECMS Crisis Management Team member. This line is available from 9am to 5pm. 
  • You can also email Covid-19@ecms.org.au to reach an ECMS Crisis Management Team member.

How do I talk to my child about COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

We have created an article to help guide you in how you can talk to your child about the coronavirus. This link provides a story you can download and read with your child to familiarise them with the use of face masks. 

When do I have to self-isolate?

In line with Federal and State government advice, the following quarantine requirements are in place at all our centres for children, families and staff. You must self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • You are diagnosed with COVID-19.

  • You have been in close contact with a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19. In the event of multiple positive contacts in the household, the 14 days starts from when the last person diagnosed gets clearance from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

  • You have returned from any overseas country.

  • You have returned from a state or territory where self-isolation border measures are in place.

  • You have participated in COVID-19 testing (whether you have symptoms or not) until the results prove negative.

How are you encouraging social distancing for parents, children and staff?

In line with Federal Government requirements, we are encouraging the use of social distancing within our centres. Adults are to keep 1.5 metres away from other adults and are recommended to wear a face mask when social distancing is not possible. 

To support and enable social distancing, we are encouraging the use of technology to communicate with families. We encourage parents or guardians to pick-up and drop-off children as quickly as possible and to limit their opportunities to talk with others. Families and educators can use phone calls, Storypark, text messaging or FaceTime for longer conversations about a child.

How are you encouraging social distancing and hygiene within the learning environments?

To support and facilitate social distancing in our centres, we are:

  • Encouraging parents/guardians and children to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser provided when arriving at the service.

  • Staff and children to wash their hands at regular intervals throughout the day and following certain activities, in addition to providing discussions, demonstrations and modelling of these behaviours.

  • Gloves to be worn by staff in undertaking designated activities such as cleaning any bodily fluids or children's faces, assisting a child going to the toilet or using spray bottles with chemicals.

  • Setting up activities that encourage children to participate with their peers in the safest way, for example, experiences set at each end of a table.

  • Using progressive snack and meals times to ensure children are not all eating at once and where possible limiting numbers at a table.

  • Encouraging the use of a full indoor/outdoor space for the whole session (ratio-dependent). 

  • Stopping group gatherings (such as storytimes) to more informal learning opportunities to engage with children individually or in a group of two.

  • Reducing the amount of sensory activities (such as play dough) within the session to prevent cross-contamination.

What additional measures have you implemented to ensure the health and safety of educators and children?

We have implemented further health and safety measures across our services, many of which the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee endorses. These include:

  • Nominated Supervisors will check each staff member's temperature before they start work. This must be below 37.5 degrees.

  • More regular cleaning of surfaces and resources, at least twice daily, as well as routine cleaning of toys and resources.

  • Rearranging classrooms – to ensure physical distancing is achievable.

  • No gathering of parents on kindergarten premises inside or outside.

  • We ask families who work as frontline health workers or in other emergency services to wear a change of clothes when collecting their child after completing their shift.

We have a detailed and robust Health and Safety Guidelines in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which are frequently updated in line with Government advice.

Are you taking each child’s temperature on arrival at the centre?

No, effective 17/11/20 routine temperature checks for children are no longer required.

Temperature checks on arrival remain required for staff, visitors/contractors and allied health professionals.

Why are some staff wearing face masks all the time and others occasionally?

It is not mandatory for teachers and educators to wear a face mask while working with children. However, any staff who wishes to wear a face mask whilst working, can.

Face masks are required for the purposes of temperature checking and if a child or colleague is unwell. In general, masks are recommended for use by staff and visitors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Further information on masks can be obtained here.

Do I have to wear a face mask/covering to enter the service?

No, however parents/guardians and children over 12 years of age are required to carry a face mask entering the service and it is strongly recommended they be worn when a 1.5 metre distance from others cannot be maintained.

How else can I keep the community safe?

  • Frequently wash your hands using soap and water and/or alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

  • When you cough and sneeze, cover your nose and mouth with your elbow or tissue, throw away your tissue immediately and wash your hands.

  • Keep your child at home if they have any cold and flu symptoms (even mild), including, fever, chills, sweats, runny nose, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath or loss of sense of smell or taste. (If your child displays any of these symptoms while in attendance, we will contact you to pick up your child immediately).

  • Use of fever-reducing medication (for example, paracetamol or Ibuprofen) to your child before attending is not acceptable. You will be asked to pick up your child when they are unwell.

  • If you are unwell, do not enter the centre until your symptoms have resolved.

  • If your child is being tested for COVID-19 with or without symptoms (asymptomatic), your child must stay at home until you receive a negative test result. 

  • If you are awaiting COVID-19 test results, please do not enter the centre until you receive a negative test result.

  • If your child is being tested for COVID-19, please continue to notify your centre via phone or email.

  • As per the DHHS and DET advice, any adult entering the centre must wear a face-covering or mask during drop-off and pick-up to help protect you and others by providing an additional barrier.

  • Only one parent or guardian (wearing a mask) should enter the centre at a time to collect your child.

  • Minimise the attendance of siblings at the centre. If you need help with this, then please speak with your Centre Director or Nominated Supervisor.

  • Use hand sanitiser as you enter and leave the centre.

  • Pick-up and drop-off your child as quickly as possible.

  • Limit your discussions with others. 

  • Use technology to communicate with your educator via phone calls and Storypark to discuss your child’s needs.

What is ECMS' policy and procedure for COVID-19 symptoms and the return to the service?

We require a clearance certificate for any noted diseases on the exclusion table provided by the DHHS. As COVID-19 is yet to be included on the exclusion table, and we are waiting for this information to be updated, we are using advice from the DET.

We encourage you to keep your child at home until they have fully recovered and are symptom-free. Should there be any concern about continuing symptoms on return, we may request a medical certificate.

How are you protecting my child at the centre?

In our everyday practise, we have strict protocols around cleaning to protect children and staff's health, safety and wellbeing. During this outbreak, we have increased the frequency of our centre cleaning that goes beyond our regulations. If there is a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, the centre will also undergo further professional cleaning with high-grade disinfectant products. Please speak with your Centre Directors or Nominated Supervisors to discuss other measures in place at your centre.

How can I protect my child and family from COVID-19?

The best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to practice good hygiene and social distancing.

This includes:

  • Wash hands often with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Dry with a paper towel or hand dryer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow.

  • Throw tissues away immediately and wash your hands.

  • Ensure your hand sanitiser is alcohol-based (with over 60 per cent alcohol). Please note that hand sanitiser can be poisonous if ingested, so ensure it is kept out of reach of young children.

  • Exercise social distancing (stay more than 1.5 metres from people).

My child has complex medical needs. Can they attend?

Please speak to your medical practitioner about on-site education and care during COVID-19. We will assist you as best as possible during this time.

Will I be notified if there is a diagnosed case at my centre?

Yes, we will immediately inform all families and staff.

What happens if the centre is forced to close?

If a closure is necessary, the following will happen:

  • We will take the direction of the DHHS.

  • If required to close, we will notify you of the closure via email and SMS, including possible closure timeframes. 

  • If available at that time, we will notify you of the risk and if self-isolation is required.

During a centre's closure, we will update you through our communication channels, including when the centre will re-open; and other health and wellbeing measures available to you and your family.

Will there be any online learning if a centre is forced to close?

We launched Play and Learn with ECMS support learning from home at the start of Term 2. Learning from home activities and experiences will be available to families through Storypark and via our website www.ecms.org.au.

My child is not feeling well, but does not have a temperature, what should I do?

The DHHS states that adults and children, even with the mildest of symptoms, should seek medical advice and get tested. More information is available here. If your child is displaying any signs of an illness – this includes cold, flu or is unwell with a temperature, you should not bring them to the centre. The Government has released a symptom tool to help provide clarity between cold, flu and COVID-19 symptoms.

What happens if my child is unwell at the centre?

If your child displays cold or flu symptoms, or is unwell with a temperature while at the centre, we will contact you to pick up your child immediately. Staff attending to a child who has any illness symptoms must wear a face mask.

My child has been tested for COVID-19 but does not have any symptoms. Can they attend?

In line with advice from the DHHS, anyone who has been tested for COVID-19 must self-isolate until results can prove negative. Therefore, they cannot attend the centre. This includes children, parents (or member of the immediate household) and staff who have been tested, even without symptoms.

What if I think I have COVID-19?

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle pain and fatigue. The DHHS has created a self-assessment tool to help people at risk or who are concerned.

Are you still having incursions and excursions?

Effective 6/10/2020, where services have previously conducted agreed programs indoors or outdoors (e.g. Bush or Beach Kinder) these can recommence and there is no gathering limit to be applied to the number of children.

Excursions can recommence both indoors and outdoors ONLY when the group has exclusive access to the venue. There are no gathering limits that apply to the group for this activity and all other requirements of the ECMS Excursion Policy and Procedures must be upheld.

Will open days and family days still go ahead?

Service tours, orientation, and transition activities may occur with no restriction on the number or type of visitors to ECEC premises as long as the density limit of one person per 4 square metres is applied.

My family is planning to travel interstate or overseas this year. Do I need to update the centre?

We ask that if you have travel booked for this year that you regularly check Smart Traveller for travel restrictions. Any travel overseas to any country will require 14 days of self-isolation upon return.

If you are planning to travel interstate or overseas this year, we ask that you let your Centre Director or Nominated Supervisor know your destination and dates. You can also email this information to Covid-19@ecms.org.au.

How do I stay updated with COVID-19?

We will continue to keep you updated with advice that follows the national public health guidelines to ensure the health and safety of children and staff in our centres.

Other sources for updates and support are: 

  • The Australian Government's Coronavirus Australia app. iOS download here. Android download here.

  • Daily updates from the COVIDsafe app

  • Daily updates from the DHHS website.

  • Fact sheets from the DET website.

  • Video resources with information and tips from the DHHS website.

  • The National Coronavirus Health Information Line (call 1800 020 080), which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Translating or interpreting services (call 131 450).