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Creche staff can return to work but not care for children - yet

22 June 2020 - 13:44 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Preschool staff may return to work to prepare for the re-opening of creches. Stock image.
Preschool staff may return to work to prepare for the re-opening of creches. Stock image.
Image: 123RF/rawpixel

Early childhood development educators and staff can return to work but have a series of hurdles to overcome before children are allowed back into their care.

The department of social development said in a circular dated June 21 that children would not be allowed back at creche or partial care facilities until the minister had gazetted the final date and conditions under which they could reopen.

Christien Lottering from the Little One's Kingdom day care in Randburg said the lockdown had left staff without salaries. “The lockdown affected us ... None of the staff got salaries because the parents didn’t pay ... We have the necessary material to clean and get the school ready.

“We don’t know when we will be opening doors. It’s going to be difficult telling small children to social distance and sanitise but we will make it work. They will have to social distance,” said Lottering.

The circular said staff could return, provided Covid-19 safety protocols were adhered to. Any facility wanting to reopen under the state of disaster would have to:

• Complete and submit a pre-opening self- assessment form providing various details, including its location, its registration status, whether it received government funding, the ages of the children under care, whether all teaching materials and toys had been disinfected, the type of ventilation and whether an isolation space was available. A set of questions related to screening for infections also had to be formulated.

• Be visited by a representative of the department to determine whether it complied with the current health and safety standards.

• Become familiar with a set of final operating procedures and guidelines yet to be published by the department before reopening.

Department spokesperson Thabiso Hlongwane confirmed the authenticity of the circular and said details were not yet available on when children would be allowed to return.

“It is the responsibility of the management body responsible for the employment of staff at the early childhood development facility to ensure that the staff meet the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures on Covid-19 before the pronouncement of a date for reopening by the minister of social development,” said the circular.

“The department may visit any crèche that intends to open during the eased lockdown to verify whether it complies with safety measures.”