By Staff Reporter, MyVue News.com
Basseterre, Sunday, 9th August, 2020, (MyVue News.com)- One of the toughest challenges still being faced by citizens in St.Kitts & Nevis, as the country tries to balance its fight against COVID-19 with the normalization of economic and social activities, is the care for very young children, while parents head out to work.
Once the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in late March this year, immediate steps were taken to close all institutions of learning, including day cares.
Now, four months into the Coronavirus battle, steps are gradually being taken to re-open the economy and restore social engagements, but doing so, according to the government, in a responsible and phased manner.
With new COVID-19 Regulations approved to take effect from Saturday, 8th August, authorities have revealed that the first phase for the re-start of operations for day cares, begins, once the management of these facilities make the necessary application to do so.
Operators of the privately run early childhood centers, have to apply to the Ministry of Education and would be required to comply with all minimum standards, set out in the Schedule 3 of the Regulations.
That Schedule speaks to Physical Distancing, Use of Masks, Arrival & Departure Screening Protocols, Hygiene, Food Preparation, and Health & safety Measures.
They must also be certified operators, as licensed by the Ministry of Education and must have a certificate of compliance, with minimum standards, from the COVID-19 Task Force.
Meanwhile, all government owned Day Cares will begin operations from Monday, 10th August, 2020, according to the following released from the Government Information Service, SKNIS.
The Ministry of Education has announced that Public Day-care Centres will be re-opening on Monday, August 10, 2020.
“We are now welcoming back the children who were at home for an extended period due to the COVID-19 Pandemic,” said Early Childhood Development Unit Director, Kimona Browne. “We realise that this has been challenging for the parents and guardians over the months, but the early childhood practitioners are all geared up towards assuming their responsibilities as early childhood service providers.”
Children returning now are those who were in the day care prior to closure. All new children to centres will attend on September, 07, 2020.
The Ministry has informed that children must be brought to the centres and collected by a responsible adult, and buses dropping off children and traffic warden taking children from buses are no longer allowed.
All staff, parents and guardians are required to observe several Covid-19 protocols for Early Childhood Centres.
When entering a facility, identify and use any one of the approved entry points to the centre. On entering a facility, look for posted signs which would provide clear regulations for entering the compound. The regulations include queuing up at the marked screening area by standing on the visible markers (6-feet apart from another person), wearing facemasks while on the compound, and sanitizing hands.
Another protocol to be observed is the Screening Area Guidelines and Activities. Parents will encounter two staff members at the screening area. One staff member will perform temperature checks on all staff and children only, while the other is assigned to usher in the children.
The worker accepting babies must be properly attired in an apron and a blanket over their shoulder, which provides a barrier or protection between the worker and the children. Parents of children in the nursery section are asked to have an extra blanket for the worker who is taking the baby from the parent. This staff member must be re-sanitized before taking each baby.
Every child would be signed in and out of the regular register. Once a child or staff member has a temperature that is equal to or greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius, neither child nor staff will be allowed to enter the building. A second temperature reading will be taken half-hour after the first reading to confirm whether there is a sustained elevated temperature.
All temperatures and any related respiratory symptoms will be recorded in a logbook daily. This book is important and will be used for contact tracing, if necessary.
There are certain restrictions in place said the Ministry of Education. A child or staff member who is sent home because of suspicious signs/symptoms of COVID-19, cannot return to the institution unless a certificate from the doctor or community health nurse indicates the person is well enough to re-enter the school’s population.
Only a responsible adult can bring children to the centre. Children will not be allowed to drop off children at the centre.
Parents are no longer allowed inside the centres. They can only come to drop off or pick up their children.
Impromptu meetings at the facility between teachers/supervisor and parents will not be permitted. All meetings must be conducted electronically or by strict appointments.
An on-duty traffic warden must not take children from any means of transportation and bring them to the centre.
Children must not be dropped off from buses unattended.
Any visibly sick or ill staff member or child will not be allowed entry into the centre. Signs of an illness include persistent coughs, runny nose, vomiting, etc.
All staff must wear a facemask upon entry and while inside the institution.
Children will not wear a facemask at any time.
Under supervision, children’s hands will be washed with soap and water, rinsed properly then dried completely. Children will not use hand sanitizers because of the alcohol content, which can irritate their mouth and skin.
Some private schools have been granted approval to re-open and the process for evaluating the remaining private schools is ongoing.
The Old Road Day Care Centre will remain closed until further notice due to some maintenance work that has to be completed. Every effort is being made to ensure that this is done in the timeliest manner.
Main photo: Industrial Site Daycare & Preschool