Measures to Keep Preschools COVID-19 Resilient
13 Sep 2021
Dear Parents/ Guardians,
Measures to Keep Preschools COVID-19 Resilient
Since the start of our fight against COVID-19, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has put in place several measures to keep our preschool community safe. As the COVID-19 situation remains dynamic and we transit towards a COVID-19 resilient nation, we will continue to review and refine our measures in preschools to safeguard our preschool children, who cannot be vaccinated yet.
Safe management measures remain in place
2. To ensure that preschools remain a safe environment for children and staff, preschools will continue to be vigilant and adhere to the strict safe management measures (SMMs) in line with the COVID-Safe ABCs (i.e. Safe Access, Safe Behaviours and Safe Classrooms). These include stepped up health screening (up to three times a day), ensuring good personal hygiene practices among children and staff, maintaining high environmental hygiene standards, ensuring that children interact only within their respective cohorts and restricting visitors.
Majority of preschool staff are vaccinated
3. In addition to the SMMs, vaccination and testing are two key enablers for COVID-19 resilience. Over 95% of preschool staff are already vaccinated or have taken their first dose so far. We will continue to encourage staff, who are medically eligible, but have yet to be vaccinated, to do so early so that they can better protect themselves, their loved ones, and the children under their care.
Regular testing of preschool staff
4. Beyond vaccination, regular testing using Antigen Rapid Test (ART) provides a useful form of surveillance so that COVID-19 infections can be detected earlier and ring-fenced quickly to reduce the risk of widespread transmission within preschools. From 1 October 2021, all vaccinated staff in preschools will be required to undergo regular ART once a week. Unvaccinated staff, including those who are medically ineligible, will be tested twice a week.
Self-testing and close monitoring of health are key
5. Parents and caregivers also play an important role in keeping children safe. Based on the cases in preschools this year, the majority of infections in children arose due to transmissions from household members and the community.
6. To ensure a safer community for all, it is important that we all exercise personal responsibility to monitor our own health and the health of our children and family members closely, and self-test if needed. Self-testing with ART is a quick measure to give peace of mind to any individual worried about possible contact with a positive case. Such regular testing and close monitoring of one’s health will allow us to detect potential cases early, contain possible spread and minimise disruption to families.
7. To facilitate this, ECDA will progressively distribute 3 ART kits to all children in preschools and Early Intervention (EI) centres from mid-September 2021. The ART kits distributed by ECDA, together with those that each household will receive as part of the nationwide distribution exercise, will allow parents to do a quick test for their child (aged 2 years and older) when there is possible exposure or suspicion of possible infection. This includes children who:
a. Are identified by their preschool as possible contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case and placed on Leave of Absence (LOA);
b. Are feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms, but were not swabbed when visiting the doctor; or
c. Have unwell household members with flu-like symptoms. We understand that using the ART kits may be new to parents and we will provide a simple guide to parents when the kits are distributed.
Keeping preschools safe is a collective effort
8. We seek the support of parents and guardians to work together with your child’s preschool to safeguard the health and wellbeing of children and staff. Parents should:
🗹 Inform your child’s preschool immediately once your child or any household member:
- Has been issued with Quarantine Order
- Has been issued with Stay-Home Notice
- Has been placed on Leave of Absence or phone surveillance
- Is undergoing mandatory COVID-19 tests>
- Has been issued with Health Risk Warning1 or Health Risk Alert2
Monitor your child’s health regularly and look out for symptoms such as fever (e.g. body temperature more than 37.5°C) and/or respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, cough and breathlessness.
🗹 Keep your child at home if your child is unwell and see a doctor immediately. Do not self-medicate. Inform your preschool if your child is unwell and only send your child back when your child’s medical leave period is over, and your child has fully recovered. This is to protect the health and wellbeing of other children and staff in the preschool.
🗹 Encourage your child (aged 2 years and older) to wear a mask or face shield for their protection and in the interest of other children/ staff. We understand that some children may have difficulties wearing a mask, for example, children with special needs and younger children. Face shields may be used as an alternative and preschools will exercise flexibility for these children.
9. We seek parents’ continued support to be vigilant and take necessary precautions, to keep our preschools safe and enable our children to learn and thrive.
Early Childhood Development Agency
1 Persons identified to be a casual contact of a COVID-19 case or have visited specific higher-risk hotspots on the same day as a COVID-19 case.
2 Persons identified to have visited hotspot areas or their vicinity.