COVIDSafe settings in ECEC services

In case you missed it, on Friday 26th February the Victorian Government announced updates to the COVIDSafe settings, including the wearing of face masks. 

Face masks

As directed by the Victorian Chief Health Officer, from 11.59pm on Friday 26 February 2021, face masks are no longer mandatory in all indoor spaces across Victoria, including in ECEC settings. It is recommended that face masks are worn by staff and visitors when physical distancing of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained in communal areas such as foyers and staff rooms.

Unless they have a lawful exception, individuals aged 12 and above must always carry a face mask. A face mask must be worn:

  • when travelling on public transport (including private chartered transport for excursions)
  • in taxis or ride share vehicles
  • when going to shopping centres, indoor markets and some large retail stores such as supermarkets and department stores.
  • It is recommended that a face mask is worn when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people in all other settings.

A face mask must cover the nose and mouth. Face shields, scarves or bandanas do not meet these requirements.

Victorian travel permit system

The Victorian travel permit system is still in place for all domestic travel into Victoria. The permit system applies to Victorian residents returning from interstate travel as well as interstate residents travelling to Victoria.

Staff and families attending your service should consider any potential impacts if they are planning to travel interstate. Staff and children are able to return to the service when they have complied with the requirements of their permits.

Implementing risk mitigation strategies

ECEC services should continue cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces regularly while any unwell staff and children should stay at home and get tested, however mild their symptoms. Staff may be eligible to apply for a Test Isolation Payment while waiting for their results or the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment - Victoria if they are instructed by the Department of Health (DoH) to self-isolate or quarantine at home.

Closure preparedness
Services should be prepared to manage a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the event a child or staff member is confirmed to have COVID-19.

Please ensure you have up-to-date emergency contact details in the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQA ITS). These details will be used should the DoH need to contact the service after hours.

Visitors to services

There is no restriction on the number or type of visitors to ECEC premises, as long as a density limit of one person per two square meters is applied to common areas. Visitors must comply with the physical distancing, face mask and hand hygiene requirements.

To support contact tracing, ECEC services need to keep a record of the name, phone number, date and time of visitors who attend their service for more than 15 minutes. Electronic record keeping is strongly encouraged. The Victorian Government has developed a QR Code Service, which is free to use and can assist with requirements to keep records.

Services can resume excursions and they should be conducted in line with any specific capacity limits on venues that are being used.

Work placements

Services are encouraged to host work placements for student teachers and educators, to support them to complete their qualification. Many ECEC students have had their journey disrupted by COVID-19. Providing them with a work placement not only helps them to fulfill their aspirations to join or progress in the profession, but also supports the availability of skilled staff in future to work with you in your service.

Cleaning and hygiene grants for Term 1

Cleaning and hygiene grants will continue for Term 1 for all funded kindergarten services, including:

  • $900 for services with less than 50 funded enrolments
  • $1500 for services with 50 or more funded enrolments.

Services will be funded based on the number of pre-confirmed enrolments in the Kindergarten Information Management System (KIMS). Payments will be made to service providers through the KIMS in the coming weeks.

As with previous cleaning grants, service providers will have flexibility on how to use this funding, as long as it is spent on meeting additional COVID-19-related cleaning and hygiene requirements during Term 1.

Handy Quick Reference Guide

The Victorian Government has released a quick reference guide - we recommend you use it as  your go-to resource for checking on permitted activities in ECEC services under the COVIDSafe settings.