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1. Does our OSHC service have to provide care, including during the additional pupil-free days?

  • Early childhood services are essential for children of our essential workers as well as the children in our community for whom school is a better and safer option, or those children who are unable to remain at home during the day.
  • There will be four pupil-free days before Easter (6, 7, 8 and 9 April) for Department for Education schools and preschools.
  • Pupil-free days have been introduced to allow teachers time to plan for alternative methods of delivering education to children. Schools remain open and continue to provide services for children whose parents are working in essential services or where parents have been unable to make alternative arrangements. The advice from Health SA remains that it is safe for schools and education and care services to remain open but that increased hygiene practices and social distancing should be applied.     
  • No child should be turned away.
  • Services should continue to operate for children who need it, including during on pupil-free days and during school holidays.
  • If a service closes where they could have remained operating (e.g. the service has made a decision to close due to COVID-19), they are unlikely to be eligible to receive grant funding.

2. Can only children of essential workers or vulnerable and disadvantaged children attend the vacation care service, including over the pupil-free days?

  • Services are not being asked to limit attendance to only children of essential workers, or vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
  • No child should be turned away.  
  • However, the messaging to families has strongly encouraged them to keep children at home where it is safe to do so.

3. What are the arrangements for governing council and management committee employees if the site is closed due to a confirmed case of COVID-19?

  • If a school or children’s centre is directed to close for thorough cleaning due to a confirmed case of COVID-19, the service should:
  1. notify the Australian Government via their third-party software
  2. contact the Education Standards Board to discuss options for maintaining continuity of service for families
  3. notify the Education Standards Board through the NQAITS  Portal.
  • The principal of the school (or nominee) is the key contact at the service for all arrangements related to OSHC service closure and will work closely with the OSHC director. 

4. How do I keep staff, children and families safe?

Service operational practice can support the minimisation and risk management concerning COVID-19.

  • In OSHC, children should be split into groups of no more than 12 and separated into different areas, rotating groups through the outdoor areas, school halls, food and drink stations and quiet areas.
  • Ensure as many indoor and outdoor areas as possible on the school site are available to children attending the OSHC and vacation care service.
  • Approach your school about accessing additional indoor and outdoor spaces. You may need to seek a waiver from the Education Standards Board.
  • Consider running an indoor/outdoor program, allowing children to move freely between these spaces. Maximise time spent outdoors.
  • Organise progressive mornings teas and lunches to minimise large groups of children.
  • Allow more space between children at mealtimes and for indoor activities.
  • Talk to children about social distancing. What is OK and not OK? Use analogies like pretending you have a bubble around you or guidelines like keeping an arm’s length apart.
  • Intentionally teach handwashing techniques and personal hygiene strategies. Use a familiar song or rhyme to support children to handwash for the prescribed length of time.
  • Place posters on the service gate and within the service to reinforce the preventative practices at the service (e.g. ‘Know the signs’, and ‘Stop the spread’).
  • Ensure families/caregivers do not bring other children into the service at drop-off/pick-up of children in care. This may mean that parents need to make arrangements for smaller children so that they are not left in a car.

5. How can I look after myself and support staff, children and families?

6. What financial help is available to services?

  • The Australian Government is working with state and territory governments and the child care sector to minimise the impact of COVID-19 on services and families.
  • Providers should refer to the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package announced by the Australian Government, along with other business support measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
  • Services seeking information on business impacts can call the CCS Helpdesk: 1300 667 276 or send an email enquiry to ccshelpdesk.dese.gov.au.
  • The Australian Government has a range of financial support for services.
  • Services are encouraged to access all funding opportunities.
  • Where providers have vacancies, they’re encouraged to open these places up to families seeking a service, even if these families haven’t used the service before or go to a different site/service.
  • If considering closure of a service, providers are encouraged to contact the Education Standards Board to discuss options for maintaining the service or managing the transition to closure.

7. Educators at the service do not want to provide care. How can we keep the service open?

  • Adjust roles and responsibilities for educators who feel they may be at risk. For example, educators who fall into at-risk age cohorts or have an underlying medical condition may need to have their role adjusted.
  • Services are encouraged to find out more information about staff entitlements and obligations if your site or service is impacted by COVID-19 at the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
  • Services can apply through the NQA ITS for a waiver if they are experiencing difficulties meeting staffing requirements.

8. If the service closes what arrangements do I need to make for the staff?

  • Advice for school governing councils and children’s centre management committees who employ people through the governing council/management committee (e.g. OSHC educators, canteen workers, child care educators) can be found at "governing councils and children’s centre management committees”.
  • Employers should always seek industrial advice when making decisions that will affect people’s employment. Advice can be sought from Fair Work Ombudsman.
  • Providers can inform themselves about the JobKeeper Payment announced by the Australian Government.

9. How can we help families that can't afford to attend vacation care over the pupil-free days/vacation care?

10. Can the school meet the cost of care for the pupil-free days?

  • Providers should refer to the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package announced by the Australian Government, along with other business support measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
  • It is intended that vacation care is provided over the pupil free days for those families who need care for their children.
  • Services should make full use of the Childcare support package, JobKeeper payments and any other support being offered by the Australian Government at this time.

11. We only have a few children booked in or utilising the service. This won't be enough for the servie to be viable.

  • Providers should refer to the Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package announced by the Australian Government, along with other business support measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
  • Services may also be eligible for other Australian Government supports targeted at businesses affected by COVID19. For further information, please visit  https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses.
  • Principals of sites who don’t offer OSHC or vacation care (or who are closing their OSHC/vacation care service) must actively refer families who need care to those services that continue to operate.

12. How can I keep updated?