The Department of Social Development has published a new directive which details the phased reopening of Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes and partial care facilities in South Africa.
The directive only applies to centres which were already operating prior to the implementation of the state of disaster, and children who were attending these facilities.
The department said that these facilities may reopen immediately provided they adhere to existing health and safety guidelines as well the additional requirements provided for in the directive.
These additional requirements include:
- A self-assessment form (which can be completed manually or online);
- A declaration form declaring that the facility meets with the minimum health and safety standards;
- A workplace plan in line with current lockdown regulations.
All ECDs will be required to conduct screening in terms of the existing health guidelines, and that every person who enters the facility must be screened.
Any person with coronavirus symptoms must report them to a designated official immediately. This person must also be barred from entering the premises.
The existing rules around sanitisers and masks must also be followed. However, children younger than 24 months will not be required to wear a mask.
Children between two and five are ‘encouraged’ to wear masks, taking into account their age and developmental abilities.
Conditions for return
The directive also outlines a number of ‘conditions of return’ that a parent or guardian must follow to ensure that screening and tracking protocols are followed.
Some of the main conditions include:
- A child must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian, or, if not practically possible, by a person designated by a parent or legal guardian, every day when the child attends an early childhood development programme or a partial care facility and must be screened;
- In the case of a child who is twelve years or younger and accompanied by a designated person, the parents or legal guardian must provide the child with the required information for the purpose of the symptom screening;
- A parent, legal guardian or a person designated by a parent or legal guardian has a right to enquire from the early childhood development programme or partial care facility about the details of the measures that have been put in place;
- A child with a known underlying health condition that may place the child at a higher than normal risk category as defined by the Department of Health, may not return unless s a medical practitioner gives written authorisation that it is safe.
The directive states that the following activities are expressly prohibited for the duration of the national state of disaster:
- Outings and excursions;
- Extramural facilities;
- Activities implemented by an external party that are not part of the staff of the establishment;
- Open days;
The directive also outlines a number of ‘programme-specific conditions which must be followed by the various facilities.
These are outlined in the table below.
The directive also outlines a number of age-specific rules which have to be followed.