Isolation and Close Contacts

From Monday, 2nd May 2022, there will be new close contact rules in place Рrefer to Changes to close contact quarantine and checking in  for details.

A staff member or child can still attend care as a close contact if:

  1. they have no symptoms; and
  2. have a negative test result¬†prior¬†to attending care (for all seven days) ‚Äď refer to the¬†Public Health website¬†for the latest close contact rules.

 

Yes, all close contacts must have a negative result prior to attending care.

If your child is under the age of 2 and a test cannot be completed, they cannot attend care.

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some RATs are not recommended for use in children under 2. Children under the age of 2 may undergo a PCR COVID-19 test.

If they produce a negative result 24 hours before leaving the house for care, they can attend care.

This close contact rule applies for all 7 days.

 

If anyone in the home is subject to self-isolation / quarantine restrictions then the FDC educator should not be operating.

  • COVID-19 cases are notified to Public Health. For those who undergo a PCR test this process is automatically undertaken by the laboratory.
  • Positive RATs will need to be registered by the user (or a child’s parent/carer) on the Tasmanian coronavirus website Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
  • Release from isolation letters will be issued to all cases reported to Public Health. If a letter is required and has not been automatically issued cases or their carers should contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738

 

Posted 28 January 2022

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Case Contacts

Edited 11 May 2022

Parents/guardians of room/group contacts will notified by the education and care service if a child has been exposed to a positive case.

Refer to our¬†Letter for parents/carers ‚ÄďIsolated Case at ECEC¬† ‚Äď Note:¬†if¬†Public Health declares an outbreak, your letter to parents of children must be tailored to include information/direction as directed by Public Health

Families will be advised to monitor for symptoms and arrange a test if symptoms develop.

In the absence of an outbreak, room/group contacts do not need to be tested or quarantine.

From Monday, 2nd May 2022, there will be new close contact rules in place Рrefer to Changes to close contact quarantine and checking in  for details.

A staff member or child can still attend care as a close contact if:

  1. they have no symptoms; and
  2. have a negative test result¬†prior¬†to attending care (for all seven days) ‚Äď refer to the¬†Public Health website¬†for the latest close contact rules.

 

Yes, all close contacts must have a negative result prior to attending care.

If your child is under the age of 2 and a test cannot be completed, they cannot attend care.

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some RATs are not recommended for use in children under 2. Children under the age of 2 may undergo a PCR COVID-19 test.

If they produce a negative result 24 hours before leaving the house for care, they can attend care.

This close contact rule applies for all 7 days.

 

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Notifications

As Public Health considers COVID-19 a notifiable disease, services need to notify the ECU of cases.

NQF Services may notify us:

  • initially through the NQAITS; and
  • notify every subsequent case within a 7 day period to your point-of-contact officer.
  • note: after the 7 day window, a new notification in the NQAITS must be made.

Licensed Services may notify us:

Note:

Refer to page 6 of the TAS ECEC COVID-19 Outbreak Management Guidelines for immediate actions services should take in the event a case is discovered in an ECEC setting.

Please NOTE the following:

  • Unless otherwise advised by Public Health, services no longer have to send Public Health line lists if a case is in identified in an ECEC setting.
  • If a child or staff member tests positive but were NOT at the service within the last 48 hours you are not required to notify the ECU.
  • If the positive test result was obtained as part of testing in the service, you must also notify Public Health by¬†registering the positive test result online –¬†Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) – Positive Result Declaration Form (health.tas.gov.au)

Depending on circumstances, RAT Testing of children might be conducted by parents, ECEC staff or childhood educator. If a positive test result is obtained, the person who has conducted the test is responsible for notifying Public Health immediately.

  • ECEC staff must follow the notification procedures under our FAQs for providers.
  • Parents must¬†register the positive test result and follow the guidance under our FAQs for parents.

Services should not be concerned about overlaps in reporting as Public Health is prepared to receive multiple notifications from various sources.

Public Health has a process to streamline multiple notifications (whether registered by schools, parents and education and care services) and determine if they are part of the same outbreak.

Anyone that conducts a RAT test for a child and obtains a positive result must continue to inform Public Health.

For information about how to notify the ECU of a positive case using NQAITS, please see ‚ÄėHow to notify of a positive case of COVID-19 via the NQAITS‚Äô.

Families of children that attend the service should be notified if a positive case was in the centre during their infectious period.

The infectious period is 48 hours prior to showing symptoms or 48 hours prior to the case producing the positive test result.

 

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Safety measures

If the Public Health Direction – Vaccination requirements in relation to Early Childhood Facilities – No. 1 (vaccination mandate) has expired because the Emergency Declaration is no longer in effect, persons will no longer be subject under the Public Health Act 1997 to be vaccinated before they can ‚Äúenter, or remain‚ÄĚ on a site where ECEC services operate.

 

However, ECEC services retain the right to have policies in place requiring their workforce to be vaccinated or impose restrictions on the entry of certain persons on-site for health and safety reasons.

Services should seek guidance from WorkSafe Tasmania and/or independent legal advice, before implementing such policies.

Refer to the following Worksafe Tasmania links for up-to-date advice:

  1. On vaccinations and meeting your duties under the model WHS laws and minimise the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in your workplace- COVID-19 Vaccinations
  2. The COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework

The Public health Direction – Vaccination requirements in relation to Early Childhood Facilities – No. 1 (vaccination mandate) is pursuant to section 16 of the Public Health Act 1997 as a result of an Emergency Declaration by the Director of Public Health.

The Public Health Emergency Declaration is currently in place until 30 June 2022.

If this timeframe is not extended, the vaccination mandate will also expire after 30 June 2022.

Yes. if you are a close contact, you are still required to wear a face mask indoors.

However, Public Health have advised that children under the age of 12 are exempt from this close contact rule.

Effective Monday, 27 June 2022, Public Health has advised that due to reduced COVID-19 cases in our community, face masks are no longer mandatory in early childhood education and care services (ECECs).

When face masks are required

However, if you are a close contact, you are still required to wear a face mask indoors as per current Public Health advice.

From time-to-time an ECEC service might also identify activities or situations where masks are required to be worn.

We ask for your support when this happens and know that it is in the best interests of children, staff and our ECECs.

 

Educators are also encouraged to wear masks when working closely with children who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

 

Yes, the child may still attend care after their isolation period ends.

A temporary exemption from the vaccination requirements to enter ECEC settings under the Public Health Direction of up to four months (starting from release from isolation) can be applied.

Public Health has permitted this temporary exemption to give the child reasonable time for recovery before completing the final dose of the vaccination.

The four month period does not mean the child is unable to obtain their final dose prior to the four month period if they have already recovered.

Services should manage children with cold and flu symptoms by doing the following:

  • Communicating with all families asking them to keep unwell children at home.
  • Where a child appears unwell on drop off, ask the parent/carer to take them home.
  • Where a child appears unwell while in care, contact the child’s family to collect them as soon
    as possible.
  • Where possible, and your supervision and ratio requirements allow, keep the child in
    isolation until they are collected.
  • Encouraging families to get their child tested. They should receive a negative COVID-19
    test and be symptom-free before returning to the service.

 

Please refer to page 15 of our ECU Living with COVID-19 Guidance for ECEC for further guidance.

Please visit the Resources for living with and managing COVID-19 in ECEC services section of our website for information on safety measures that should be adopted and how services may go about putting them in place.

Please visit Information for living with and managing COVID-19 in ECEC settings section of our website for information and links to resources.

Services should develop COVID-19 Safety Plans under the minimum standards outlined in the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework .

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Testing

Yes, all close contacts must have a negative result prior to attending care.

If your child is under the age of 2 and a test cannot be completed, they cannot attend care.

You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some RATs are not recommended for use in children under 2. Children under the age of 2 may undergo a PCR COVID-19 test.

If they produce a negative result 24 hours before leaving the house for care, they can attend care.

This close contact rule applies for all 7 days.

 

If a group outbreak is declared, Public Health recommends that all ECEC contacts be tested, regardless of symptoms.

If the first round of testing identifies additional cases then:

  1. A second test of all ECEC contacts in the group should be performed two days later; and
  2. testing should continue every 2‚Äď3 days until no positive tests are returned.

 

People who have recovered from COVID-19 do not have to test (within 8 weeks of recovery).

ECEC contacts without symptoms do not need to quarantine while awaiting test results and can remain at the ECEC setting and continue their normal activities while awaiting testing.

Testing should be conducted by parent/carers or at home.

More detailed information can be found in  our ECEC-COVID-19-Outbreak-Management-Guidelines.

 

In event of an outbreak at an ECEC, Public Health has advised that persons who have contracted COVID-19 within an 8 week period are not required to test.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 usually develop an immunity from catching it again eight weeks after infection.

Please refer to Leaving isolation after having COVID-19 | Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for more information.

If your child has hay fever symptoms, please keep them at home and test for COVID-19 using a rapid antigen test (RAT).

If your child tests negative on a RAT and symptoms continue, Public Health advises that you must do a second RAT 24 hours later, or seek a PCR test.

If the second RAT or PCR remains negative, this will be sufficient evidence for your child to return to care if they feel well.

If symptoms change or increase in severity, please see your treating medical practitioner for review.

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Gap-fee waivers

There are four instances where services can waive the gap fee and receive Child Care Subsidy (CCS) ‚Äď this is outlined in the Australian Government website ‚Äď COVID-19 information for the early childhood education and care sector – dese.gov.au:

  1. A child, or a member of their immediate household, must isolate due to COVID-19.
  2. The child is at a higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19.
  3. The service, or a room at the service, is closed due to COVID-19.
  4. The state or territory has restricted access to child care in a region due to COVID-19.

Services must not waive the gap fee for families in any other circumstances.

Updated 2 February 2022

Gap fees can be waived by FDC services if a child is unable to attend care because the educator (or member of the educator’s household) must isolate/quarantine due to COVID-19.

Updated 2 February 2022

No. Services can only waive the gap fee for the reasons outlined in the Australian Government website ‚Äď COVID-19 information for the early childhood education and care sector – dese.gov.au

If a family chooses to keep their child at home they may use their allowable absences, but must pay a gap fee to the service.

Details on how absences work and when to claim are outlined in the Australian Government‚Äôs website ‚Äď Absences from child care – Department of Education, Skills and Employment, Australian Government (dese.gov.au)

Updated 2 February 2022

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Regulatory matters

Public Health has advised that children who are close contacts are now permitted to attend care, subject to close contact rules.

Decisions regarding enrolment and attendance of children who are close contacts over and above Public Health requirements is a business decision for a service to make.

If services decide not to allow close contacts to attend, their decisions should be well-documented and make in consideration of regulations 168(2)(c) and 168(2)(h) and be aligned with their COVID-19 safety plans.

These recommendations are not exhaustive in any way and services are responsible for their compliance with the National Law or Child Care Act as it applies to all their business decisions. 

The¬†Education and Care Unit Living with COVID-19 Recovery Plan¬†outlines how the ECU will work with providers and services to undertake regulatory activities as we move into a new phase of ‘living with COVID-19’.

As we manage the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, we will now increase our unannounced compliance monitoring visits to services. Assessment and Rating (A&R) visits will also be conducted.

Authorised Officers will be mindful of services that are managing higher rates of transmission during this transition or managing COVID-19 outbreaks. They will exercise discretion on when to conduct monitoring and A&R visits whilst minimising disruption and risk of transmission at the service. Authorised Officers will continue to follow hygiene and physical distancing requirements, in line with Public Health advice and your service’s COVID-Safe plan.

The ECU will work with services to ensure children’s health, safety and wellbeing remain paramount. We will endeavour to provide appropriate notice of changes to scheduled visits but this may not always be possible if Public Health directions or outbreaks result in these visits being postponed at short notice.

If you have any questions, please contact the ECU on 6165 6425 or 1800 816 057 or via ecu.comment@education.tas.gov.au or contact your point of contact authorised officer directly.

Please see the Assessment and Rating Information Sheet 2020 for information about how the structure of A&R has changed in Tasmania to support the health and wellbeing of all children, families, educators, and staff.

Please visit the Notifying the ECU section of our page for information about applying for a waiver.

The Australian Government Department of Health or Tasmanian Public Health may advise you of the need for a partial, or full closure.

If you decide to close or partially close your education and care service you must notify of any changes in response to managing a case or outbreak of COVID-19.

Please visit the Notifying the ECU section of our website for instructions on how to let us know about serious incidents and changes to service operations.

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