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Navigating our new normal at Little Scholars COVID and our plan.

As Queensland, and Australia as a whole, takes baby steps to open to the world again after a challenging two years, Little Scholars School of Early Learning is taking big steps to ensure our children and our educators are as safe as possible as we navigate this new normal.

We want our families and our educators to rest easy that their health and safety are of the utmost importance to us, and we respect that our families and staff will have questions, especially as we see interstate and international visitors return to our cities. Here we want to answer your questions about how we navigate these next steps.

We have a detailed COVID-safe action plan that is continually reviewed as directed and advised by Queensland Health in the event a positive case is detected in one of our campuses.

Are staff vaccinated?

We encourage all our staff to be fully vaccinated. It is mandated by 17 December that all Queensland early childhood educators and staff will have their first vaccination and are required to be fully vaccinated by 23 January. Currently, we have more than three-quarters of our team fully vaccinated, and we’ve always strongly encouraged all our teams to be vaccinated as soon as possible. We are offering support and help for those unsure to get the information they need so we can get 100% of our team vaccinated to ensure that everyone is safe, based on the health advice.

How do you minimize risk in your campuses?

We’re now in the process of installing high-quality air purifiers in all our campuses, in line with our COVID-19 action plan and our commitment to the safety and well-being of all of our teams and children. Research published in The Journal of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology says the efficacy of portable air purifiers using HEPA filtration helped increase the clearance of aerosols. True HEPA filters remove 99.97% of ultra-fine dust and inhibit the spread of captured bacteria. These will be placed in our reception areas to assist in filtering air from external people entering campuses. In the event of illness or outbreak, these purifiers will be moved to studios affected.

During periods of outbreaks and suspected covid in the community, we limit the number of external visitors to our campuses. We offer foyer or car park drop-off and pick-up to prevent illness and outbreaks in the service and keep our children and educators safe.

What are the requirements for deliveries/tradespeople arriving at your campuses?

Typically, any deliveries are dropped to the foyer/ front entrance as we are limiting the number of external people into our campuses. Trades and maintenance people are all required to attend out of hours. During periods of high risk or outbreaks, it is a requirement that external visitors are limited and if required to attend, must wear a mask.

What are the deciding factors to turn a child away due to illness?

Staff and children should not attend our campuses if unwell and we take illness very seriously. Of course, the way that children interact with each other and with adults in education and care services means that illnesses can quickly spread in a variety of ways. Children have close contact with other people through playing or cuddling, putting items in their mouths, and not covering faces when sneezing or coughing. We record the immunisation status of every child at our campuses and encourage staff to be up to date with all vaccinations. We also have the Public Health Unit attend our campuses each year to give flu shots to staff.

Our staff is trained to recognise signs of illness, but it’s a shared responsibility with our families to update each other if illness is detected. Whilst we are more alert to illnesses in children, we are seeing less illness currently and parents are being much more diligent with keeping children home if they are unwell which is a huge help in keeping our community well.

Do children learn about hygiene at your campuses?

This has been an integral part of our learning program, including maintaining health and good hygiene habits, learning about viruses and disease, and what COVID actually is. We have needed to use real-life language and be frank with children as they try to understand the fear and uncertainty in the community, learning to communicate through masks and understanding the changes to “normal life” and how to process these changes.

What happens if there is a positive case in a Little Scholars Campus?

Here are the main steps we take in the event of a positive case in one of our campuses.

  • Immediately, we notify the Department of Health through our local Public Health Unit, Department of Education and Training (DET), Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and follow their recommendations moving forward
  • Notify all affected, including families, staff, and potential visitors. We  will keep them updated daily on potential room or centre closures, quarantine protocols and deep cleaning steps taken
  • Assist in identifying and notifying close contacts and support service staff to be tested. We are also required to confirm vaccination status for staff primary close contacts, of course, children are unvaccinated
  • Notify Work Safe QLD and update our risk assessments on actions taken post-positive case
  • Arrange a deep clean following the guidelines set out by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and DET. Our campuses have regular professional cleaners come into perform regular hygienic cleans, in the case of an outbreak or suspected case in the community, we engage The Usher Group who perform a deep clean in the campus out of hours to ensure that the campus is safe and ready for children and educators. This deep clean process includes a comprehensive commercial sanitisation process
  • Maintain contact with all staff and families as we progress toward reopening.

If you have any questions that weren’t answered here, please contact your campus manager and they’ll provide those answers or find the required information for you.

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