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.
Omicron is disrupting many aspects of everyday life, and kindergarten is no different. There are cases in most of our kindergarten communities already, and the numbers are expected to keep rising in line with those in the wider community.
Our teaching teams and head office staff are doing all they can to keep our kindergartens safe for all – and we appreciate your help by keeping your child home if they are sick and picking them up quickly if they become unwell at kindergarten.
We are getting some questions from whānau looking for more information about kindergarten cases. It is understandable that people are looking for details to help inform their own decision-making, however, we need to balance that with the privacy of individuals.
We will release as much information to kindergarten whānau as we can, where appropriate, and on a case-by-case basis, but please understand why we are not able to go into the depth of detail that whānau are sometimes seeking. Our kindergarten communities are small, and often it is not difficult to identify individuals, even from quite generalised information. So, please understand when we are unable to give you as much information as you are seeking.
Kia tiaki tātou i a tātou anō – Let us all take care of one another, and above all, remain be kind, be kindy.
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.
What you need to know now
IF 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:
Please follow the official COVID-19 guidance, at this link.
Face masks are compulsory in New Zealand education settings for children and teachers in schools from year 4 up, but not at kindergarten. Visitors to our kindergarten without an exemption must wear a face mask at all times. Face masks must cover the face and be attached to the ears or head by loop. People using bandanas, tee-shirts or other items of clothing as face coverings will not be able to visit our kindergartens. For more information about acceptable masks, visit the official COVID-19 site. WHĀNAU, CAREGIVER AND VISITOR VACCINATION STATUS:
Your child will never be turned away from kindergarten, regardless of whether or not you are vaccinated, but we do have requirements in relation to visitors and you will be asked for proof of your vaccination status if you plan on staying beyond settling (20 minutes max), dropping off, or picking up your child. FEES: Fees will not be charged for your regular days/hours if you choose to keep your child at home during this third stage at Red. There will be some paperwork for you to fill out to retain your child's place at kindergarten if your child doesn't attend over this period of time. Your teaching team will talk with you about what you need to do now, and in the coming weeks.
VISITORS: It's important to us that disruption to this important stage of their educational journey is minimised for tamariki, so we want to do all we can to accommodate new children. If you are thinking of enrolling your child, you and your child can still visit the kindergarten. Please call the kindergarten you are intending to visit, where possible, so that we can plan for your visit. You will need to be wearing an approved mask per the government guidelines, and to socially distance. If you intend to stay longer than 20 minutes, you will need to be able to provide proof that you are fully vaccinated. You'll also be asked to scan in and sign a Visitors Register. Our Open Day and Stay and Play events are suspended for now.
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.