Dear Kookaburra families
Thank you for everyone’s patience while we work through the kinder situation for term 2. Thank you also to those of you who completed our recent survey as this was very helpful for planning and decision making purposes.
As you are no doubt aware, the Government has announced funding for both 4 year old kindergarten and for childcare to keep centres afloat during this unprecedented time. This funding comes with conditions, one of which is that the programs remain open for families to attend. In contrast, three year old kindergarten (other than a few programs being run in specific regional areas) is not supported by underlying Government funding or subsidies and nor has the Government offered, at this stage, to prop up 3 year old programs during the COVID-19 crises. We are monitoring this situation carefully and have formally requested support from the Department of Education and Training for our 3 year old program.
After considerable assessment of the circumstances, the decision has been made to continue with our three year old program at this stage, but we will be assessing this on a week to week basis as we continue to work through options with the Victorian Government and taking into account the best interests of staff and families. We will keep you updated as often as we can but at this stage we will not issue any fee invoices to those attending until we have a response from the Government on our 3 year old funding request. Those families who opt not to attend sessions may remain enrolled and return to sessions when the time is right, but no fees will be charged.
Given requirements for stricter hygiene and protective measures to be taken to assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and in order to best protect staff, children and families, there will be a number of new practises implemented by staff this term including the following:
1. Drop off will take place at the front gate one by one. Parents will not be permitted into the kinder (parent helpers/fruit will be suspended for the term) and, depending on how many children are attending, we may need to implement a staggered start to avoid queueing (but we will advise families of this once we know who will be attending).
2. The staff member at the gate will check the temperature of each child upon arrival (and throughout the session if considered necessary).
3. Each child and staff member will be required to wash their hands thoroughly upon arrival at kinder.
4. Staff have the option to wear protective gear (e.g. gloves, face masks) if they feel it is necessary or more comfortable.
5. Sessions may be run predominantly outdoors (so please ensure your child is dressed appropriately for the weather).
6. Sessions will be structured so as to minimise risks of transmission.
In addition, we remind all families that children should not attend kinder if they are unwell, if they have any symptoms of Coronavirus or if anyone in the household has been in contact with someone suspected of having Coronavrius in the two weeks prior (even if no one in the household has any symptoms).
While we will continue to do our best to support everyone in the Alfred Nuttall community and staff will be there to support, nuture, challenge and educate the children, it is obviously a challenging time for everyone. Our staff are very anxious about their own health and the operation of kindergarten in the current environment, and the kinder setting will be different to what both the staff and children are used to. Survey results suggest that attendance numbers this term will be significantly lower than usual (which is helpful for staff) and we understand that each family will make their own assessment as to whether or not to send their child to kinder sessions this term, with some families having no option but to send their child. Staff have asked that in making this assessment, families take into account the broader circumstances of this pandemic, the consequential staffing pressures and how your child will manage with, and respond to, the different arrangements at kinder (such as parents not being permitted to enter the centre at drop off or as a helper and the increased challenges for staff in providing physical comfort and support for children if they become distressed). We also ask that, for families whose children will be attending, please have a discussion with your child about the change in practical aspects of kinder to assist your child in adapting and managing with the changes. For those children who will not be attending, staff will be in touch in due course with plans for remote engagement (noting, however, that there will not be a full remote program, rather efforts made by the staff to keep in touch with the children and suggestions for play and development with your child). To confirm, any remote engagement will not attract any fees.