While services are implementing risk mitigation strategies, you should be prepared in the unlikely event a child or staff member has a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Process for closing
Below is an outline of the process should this occur, and steps you can take now to prepare.
1. The Department of Health will notify the service of a confirmed case
The Department of Health will notify the service of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and will advise if the service needs to close or can remain operating.
A dedicated and specialised team has been established in the department to provide end-to-end support for services affected by a confirmed COVID-19 case.
Services will be assigned a case manager to ensure services are supported throughout the process.
2. Service will inform families
While services will manage communications with families, the Department of Health has developed some resources to assist services with initial communication, including a template letter for families and FAQs.
3. Lodge a notification through the NQAITS
4. Arrange a deep clean
Services arrange a deep clean. Detailed advice is available below about cleaning and disinfecting after a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been identified at a service. This advice has been developed by the Department of Health.
The technical information should be provided to cleaners contracted to clean services.
5. Update your emergency contact details
These details will be used if the Department of Education and Training or DH need to contact the service after hours.
Scope of closures
A majority of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services have operated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
If your service is directed to close as a preventative measure, you'll be advised directly and given detailed advice to support you through this process.
Reporting a closure
If your service closes, you're required to report the closure to the regulatory authority.
Actions for services under the Education and Care Services National Law Act 2010 (National Law)
All services, including family day care, are required to notify the regulatory authority within 24 hours of any incident that requires the approved provider to close or reduce the number of children attending the service for a period.
Actions for services operating under the Children's Services Act 1996 (Children's Services Act)
Services must advise the Regulatory Authority of service closure.
Strengthened process for monitoring COVID-19 close contacts
The Department of Health continues to strengthen its system for the identification, notification and monitoring of COVID-19 close contacts (primary and secondary).
ECEC services will now be advised if a child at their service has been identified by the department as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Close contacts are notified directly by the department regarding requirements for quarantine and testing and should not attend an ECEC service until they are advised by the department that their quarantine has ended. A Department of Health clearance letter will need to be provided as proof the quarantine has ended before the child can return to their service.
Services will be asked to do the following:
- Confirm that the child identified as a close contact is not attending their service during this time. If the child is attending, they must be sent home. The service is not required to close, unless directed to do so by Department of Health.
- Provide support to the child and their family during the quarantine period to facilitate continued engagement in learning and address any wellbeing needs.
Self-isolating as a close contact
Where a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified at your service, they are required to quarantine at home and not return to your service or any other ECEC service for 14 days from last contact with the confirmed case. The Department of Health will advise the quarantine period.
In addition, close contacts are required by the Department of Health to undergo testing on or about day 13 of the quarantine period. Where the close contact refuses to get tested on day 13, they will remain in quarantine for a total of 28 days from their last exposure to the virus.
In some cases, the Department of Health may direct secondary contacts (that is, close or household contacts of close contacts) to quarantine for the same time period as the close contact. The Department of Health will advise household members of close contacts if any action is required.
Reviewed 30 March 2021