Re: Update re Term 2 Kindergarten Programs
We hope you are all keeping safe and well. In particular, we hope that your children have enjoyed some quality time with you over the term break.
During this unprecedented time, the GEKA Office staff have been working closely with the State Government, Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and our educational teams to ensure that we are across the ever changing landscape. We have been participating in almost daily briefings by the State Government, and adjusting our internal policies and practices as we receive advice.
We can confirm that all GEKA services will re-open from Wednesday 15 April, for both 3 and 4 year old programs, for children of families that need to bring their children to kindergarten. In line with Government advice above, GEKA is encouraging families to keep their children home wherever possible.
Although term 2 commences on Tuesday 14 April, we will be using next Tuesday (no children on this day) to ensure that our services and staff are ready to provide a modified program under some very different conditions. We apologise if this inconveniences any families, however we want to ensure that our services have safety measures in place, for when your child returns.
As you know, the State Government have been very clear about the 4 reasons that permit people to leave home at the moment:
- shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
- medical, care or compassionate needs
- exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
- work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely
The State Government have now confirmed that they will provide services with funding of $498 for every child enrolled in a 4YO funded kindergarten program, regardless of attendance. GEKA will cover the shortfall in fees so families do not have to pay any additional fee for term 2. The only exception to this is for children at GEKA Orrong Road Kindergarten, who attend for three days per week (above the standard 15 hours a week). The additional day will need to be funded by families.
What does this mean for children and families?
- Families can now continue to keep their child enrolled in a kindergarten program, even if they choose to keep their child at home this term, without any cost to families.
Unfortunately, at this time, the fee relief does not apply to children enrolled in a 3YO program (as this is unfunded by the Government).
At this stage, we have not received further advice as to when we will receive the money from the State Government, nor have we received any clarification as to whether families can elect to have their term 2 fees credited to term 3. We will update you as soon as we have this information. Although the Government funding only relates to 4YO kindergarten, we expect to hear an announcement regarding 3YO fees in the coming days, however given that 3YO kindergarten is largely unfunded at this stage across Victoria, we do not anticipate the same level of financial assistance.
In line with Government advice above, GEKA is encouraging families to keep their children home wherever possible. This is to protect your family, our educators and their families in addition to the wider community. We do understand that some families need to access kindergarten for their child and we are keen to continue to support families that need to access the program for their child.
If you do send your child to kindergarten next week, please note the following restrictions and conditions:
- Please only send your child to kindergarten if they are well. Educators will not be administering any over the counter medication to children.
- Please only bring your child to kindergarten if YOU are well.
- We will be taking the temperature of all children upon arrival, and once during the day, so please prepare your child. If any child has a temperature of 38 degrees or higher, have any signs or symptoms displayed (cough, runny nose, pale skin, etc.), this will result in a refusal of entry to the service, and a request for medical clearance before returning.
- Social distancing measures will be in place at the entrance of the kindergarten, in the arrival and collection area – please observe 1.5 metres of space between yourself and other families.
- Educators will be wearing protective equipment, including gloves and aprons – some will also be wearing masks. We ask that you prepare your children ahead of arrival.
- The indoor environment will be restricted to children and educators only. You will sign your children in/out in the garden or other outdoor area. We encourage families to remember that they can arrive at any time throughout the morning
- Families need to bring their own pen to sign their child in and out of the program
- We will increase the number of spaces for children, so they can play in smaller groups and avoid any large group interaction (where possible)
- Continue to restrict cooking experiences with children
- Continue to restrict sensory play experiences e.g. Tubs of water, kinetic sand, slime, playdough that can be easily mouthed by children
- Continue to restrict regular outings into the community
- Continue to restrict incursions, so we to limit the number of people accessing the space
If you choose not to send your child to kindergarten next week, please note the following:
- Educators will provide ideas for remote learning opportunities to families via Flexibuzz
- GEKA would like to offer families the opportunity to borrow resources from the kindergarten, for children to utilise while at home. This may involve, craft items, blocks and books, among other things. We will provide more information about how this can be collected safely and how long it can be borrowed for, next week.
- Children and families will be encouraged to share aspects of their day with educators via the kindergarten email (address is available on he GEKA Website).
- GEKA are participating in the ‘Teddy bear hunt’ in the local community and encourage families to join this too, by displaying a teddy in their window and by supporting children to ‘find’ teddies in the windows of houses in the neighbourhood.
We know that this is a very unsettling time. We will be doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our staff, children and our families, and will continue to provide updates on Flexibuzz as we become aware of new information.
We thank families in advance for their considered access to the kindergartens this term, and for working with us to keep our whole community safe.
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