At the time of writing, ALL OF OUR KINDERGARTENS ARE OPEN with additional public health measures in place. However, Omicron is spreading in our communities and we do expect there to be some disruption to services. Please ensure you and your whānau have a plan in place. Information that is new since our last update is coloured in RED.
The Kidsfirst name says it all – we put children first.
Not profits, not politics, not public opinion. And so, when we make decisions about how to respond to developments around COVID, we remain true to our name.
For Kidsfirst, that means doing all we can to keep as many tamariki as possible at kindergarten, while making kindy as safe as we possibly can. We want to ensure the early years of our tamariki remain as normal as possible in these very abnormal times.
Like everybody else, Kidsfirst has to grapple with tough decisions that limit access to our spaces so we can keep them safe. That is not easy for us – participation, inclusion, accessibility, and whānau involvement are core tenets of the kindergarten philosophy, and limiting connection and access goes against the grain.
However, we need to remain mindful of all of the different needs and ideas in our extended Kidsfirst whānau as we make decisions with one simple goal: making sure as many tamariki as possible can come to kindergarten safely with as little disruption as possible.
And so, some of the Kindy Safe measures we instigated under the Red traffic light setting will remain at Orange – including those around vaccinations and limiting the time whānau and visitors can spend on site at our kindergartens. Others now become recommendations, and out of respect for our more vulnerable whānau and staff, we hope you will continue to take these precautions when you come to kindy.
We know this is a difficult time for many families – please do reach out to your teaching team to talk things over if you need to. If you have questions about our Kindy Safe measures in general, please get in touch with us through the contact form on this site.
Teaching teams are working hard under often challenging circumstances as everybody adjusts to the new 'normal' of COVID right now, so we appreciate your support for them.
Kia tiaki tātou i a tātou anō. Let us all take care of one another, and above all – be kind, be kindy.
Chief Executive Officer
Kidsfirst Kindergartens NZ
What you need to know now
MEDICALLY VULNERABLE TAMARIKI: All children can still come to kindergarten, however with some restrictions being lifted, parents of tamariki with complex medical needs may wish to seek advice from their health professional. These are hard decisions for whānau, and we will support any choice you make.
DROP OFF AND PICK UP: It gets harder as the weather cools down, but if we can limit the number of visitors at our kindergartens, we also lower the risk of COVID taking hold. Your teaching team may ask you to drop-off tamariki outside of the building, and we would appreciate your support in doing this where you can.
Physical distancing is not required in early learning settings, but it is another way we can limit the spread of COVID, so we would be grateful if you could please be mindful of this at drop off and pick up times.
We are limiting visitors to our kindergartens where we can, but those who do come inside – including whānau and caregivers settling children – must be vaccinated if they are to be inside a kindergarten for more than 20 minutes for the purposes of dropping off, picking up, and/or settling a child.
Everybody who comes in to our kindergartens is encouraged to wear a mask. It would also help those who are medically vulnerable, and help keep our kindergartens as COVID-free as possible if whānau wear face masks when picking up or dropping off tamariki outside.
KIDSFIRST KINDY SAFE MEASURES: Kidsfirst's COVID Team continues to set policy and ensure our kindergartens are safe spaces that remain available to as many tamariki as possible. Measures include:
Limiting non-essential adult access to our indoor spaces, where practical, with the best interests of our staff, and tamariki in mind.
Careful consideration and planning around kindergarten events and excursions.
Enhanced cleaning measures at all of our sites.
Well ventilated buildings and creative uses of our Big Backyards to limit exposure to, and the spread of COVID.
Adherence to relevant public health recommendations and requirements.
If tamariki or whānau are unwell:
WHEN YOUR CHILD IS UNWELL:
Please, please keep tamariki at home if they are showing any symptoms of illness, especially at this time. We need to do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU OR YOUR WHĀNAU ARE CONFIRMED TO HAVE COVID-19:
Please let your teaching team know about a positive COVID-19 test result as soon as you get it – it’s up to all of us, now, to let each other know if we’re a confirmed case of COVID-19 or a household contact, and it’s important we do this to keep everyone safe, and our kindergartens open. Please note that we are legally obliged to let public health authorities know about positive COVID-19 cases connected to our kindergarten community.
IF YOU'VE BEEN A CLOSE CONTACT OF SOMEBODY WHO IS CONFIRMED AS HAVING COVID-19:
NEW WHĀNAU VISITS TO KINDERGARTEN: The kindy years are such important ones, so we want to do all we can to minimise disruption for your child wherever possible. If you are thinking of enrolling your child, you and your child can still visit the kindergarten, or the teaching team may be able to take you on a virtual tour. Please call the kindergarten you are intending to visit, where possible, so that we can plan for your visit. You are encouraged to wear an approved mask per the government guidelines, and we ask that you maintain distancing. If you intend to stay longer than dropping off, picking up, or settling your child, you will need to be vaccinated. You'll also be asked to sign a Visitors Register. Our Open Day and Stay and Play events are suspended for now.
What happens when Omicron is in your kindergarten community:
If there is a confirmed case or cases:
Your teaching team will let you know in the way that they usually stay in touch with you, or via Educa.
We will let you know there is a case within the wider community, but for privacy reasons, will not share any more detail than that.
The kindergarten will remain open, so long as there are sufficient staffing numbers to fill the required positions. Our standard COVID safety measures will remain in place to keep everyone as safe as possible and limit the spread.
Your teaching team will stay in touch with you on an ongoing basis, keeping you up to date about what is happening, and they will let you know if there are any changes to the way the kindergarten is operating.
As always, your teaching team is available to talk through any concerns – we know it is a difficult time. Should you prefer to keep your child at home, you will be able to retain their place, and will not be charged fees. There will be some paperwork for you to complete, though, and your teaching team will let you know about this.
If your kindergarten has to close:
A kindergarten will only close because of Omicron if we are unable to meet the staffing numbers and makeup that are a part of the Ministry of Education's requirements for us to be able to operate.
Every whānau should have a plan for how they will care for tamariki in this event.
You will receive a notification from your teaching team about what is happening, and you can also check for any closures on this site.
Your teaching team will endeavour to keep the connection and learning going, with online teaching, and at-home resources, if possible, however, it’s important to understand that Omicron is creating disruption in many education settings, ours included, and staffing numbers may mean this is not possible.
What can you do to help keep us all Kindy Safe?
Please, keep your child home if they are sick. Follow the public health advice, located at the Unite Against COVID-19 website.
Inform your teaching team, or head office, if your child tests positive for COVID-19, or if there is a positive case in your household. Please note, we are required to pass this information on to the Ministry of Health.
Have alternative arrangements in place for picking up tamariki, should they fall ill while they are at kindergarten, so that risk to other tamariki and kaiako is minimised.
About Kidsfirst's approach to Omicron Management
We want to help everybody in our extended kindergarten family get through this as safely and comfortably as possible, while minimising disruption as best we can under the circumstances.
Kidsfirst's COVID Management Team provides high level guidance to our kindergartens, which all operate within Ministry of Health and Education requirements. There are some very clear and firm rules that all of our services follow, however COVID is impacting different communities in different ways, and in some aspects of kindergarten life, there is no ‘one size fits all’ set of rules. We trust our teaching teams will make decisions in the best interests of tamariki, whānau, and the community they are part of in these instances.
This information is current at the date of publication, but things are changing all the time. Please subscribe to updates from this site at the bottom of any page on the website, or follow our Facebook page to receive updates.
There's more information about the government's Omicron response and early childhood education here.