Day-care centres will be allowed to reopen for an initial two-week period, beginning Tuesday (July 21) as the Government continues to ease restrictions that were imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
This was announced by Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Desmond McKenzie, in a statement to the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 14).
The Minister emphasised that these facilities must be fully compliant with the COVID-19 protocols.
“The question of temperature checks and other such protocols that are laid down by the Ministry of Health, we are expecting that those protocols will be observed,” he said.
Mr. McKenzie noted that there must be adequate staffing provision, maintaining the ratio of one adult to five children, for children aged zero to 12 months; one adult to eight children, for children aged 13 to 35 months; and one adult to 10 children, for children aged three to five years.
“There must be multiple temperature checks available for screening and these devices must be cleaned and disinfected at all times, and we are recommending that the necessary checks be done using the list that has been provided by the Ministry of Health (and Wellness),” he advised.
The Minister noted as well that child-friendly signs depicting COVID-19 guidelines must be erected throughout the facilities.
Mr. McKenzie further advised parents and guardians that they are not obligated to send their children to day care under this Order.
“We are opening the sector, but if the parents or the guardians feel that they are not ready to send their child out, they are not compelled to do so,” he said.
In addition, children must be observed for signs of runny nose, cough, fever or gastrointestinal symptoms, and there must be an isolation area for anyone who exhibits symptoms. Those with a fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit/38 degrees Celsius or higher) must be sent home.
The protocols dictate that all rooms must be cleaned and sanitised at least twice daily; restrooms are to be cleaned and disinfected every hour; frequently touched areas, as well as toys, must be sanitised frequently; and toys made from cloth must not be used.
Additionally, seating and sleeping areas must be rearranged to ensure at least three to six feet between each child. Large groups must not be allowed in common areas.
In the meantime, the Government will also allow the operation of summer day camps, commencing on July 21 until July 31.
“This Order speaks to non-residential summer camps. We are not advising the opening of summer camps where children are going to sleep over. We are speaking about day camps using the necessary protocols that have been put in place to observe the social distancing.
These camps will run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and we are encouraging a lot of outdoor activities, again observing the necessary protocols that have been put in place,” he said.
Additionally, the use of touchless trash cans is encouraged, to provide a hands-free way to dispose of tissues and contaminants; seating and sleeping areas must be rearranged to ensure at least three to six feet between each child; and large groups must not be allowed in common areas.
The Order also stipulates that play equipment must be spaced at least six feet apart and that play equipment that cannot be spaced in this manner must be closed. In addition, exercise and play must only be done outdoors with the necessary supervision, physical distancing and the washing of hands before and after with soap and water.
It further instructs that bus trips and other excursions must be done in compliance with physical distancing, mask-wearing and sanitisation protocols. There must be no standing in the bus, and hand sanitisation must be done before entering the vehicle.