Since services reopened last year, public health medical teams across the country have been supporting the response to cases of Covid-19 within your facilities. Over this time we have learned
that the mitigation measures in place, properly implemented, are effective in ensuring onward spread of Covid-19 infection is minimised. However, there will inevitably be cases of Covid-19 identified
amongst staff and children attending facilities. Therefore now, more than ever, the appropriate mitigation measures need to be fully implemented to ensure any onward spread of Covid-19 from
cases identified who have attended your facilities, are minimised as best possible.
To further support Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services providing care to children of essential workers and to vulnerable children, the HSE has put in place a dedicated phone number for managers and service providers, or their designate, to ring if they have been informed of a confirmed case of Covid-19. The line is only and specifically to inform of any case of Covid-19 identified amongst a staff member or child who attended your service whilst unwell or within 48 hours of them becoming unwell, and if you haven’t yet heard from public health. The contact details for Departments of Public Health as circulated previously are still valid but often busy. This line has been established therefore, to ensure your message can be directly fed in to the correct teams within the Departments of Public Health for appropriate follow up. We ask that this line please only be used for the designed purpose, to facilitate a timely response to facilities that most need it. It is not a line for general queries regarding Covid-19. Further information on the operation of your service during the Covid-19 pandemic can be found on the First 5 page. General queries should be directed, in the first instance, to your local CCC.
Public Health Messages:
The Public Health medical schools teams would like to re-enforce the important messages regarding the measures necessary to best protect your facilities and all those attending them.
1) Before attending any facility:
Symptomatic – Please make sure all staff and families are aware not to attend your facility if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 infection.
Household member symptomatic – Please remind all staff and children that no-one should be attending the facility if they have any household member who has signs or symptoms of
Covid-19; they should be restricting their movements until it is clear whether the household
member has Covid-19 infection or not.
Been informed they are a close contact – Please remind all staff and children that if they have been told by their doctor or the HSE services that they are a close contact of a case of
Covid-19, they should not be attending any service and should be at home restricting their movements for 14 days, even if they feel well themselves.
Returning post travel – public health advice is that all individuals who have travelled should restrict their movements for 14 days. For travellers from the UK or South Africa, it is vital
that they self-isolate for 14 days post-travel and undertake testing as recommended on gov.ie. Returned travellers from other countries can follow advice as per gov.ie. Public
health advice remains all should restrict their movements for 14 days post -travel.
Re-enforcing general public health messages – Please ensure all staff and families attending your facilities are reminded of the importance of keeping your facilities safe by abiding by
the national public health measures currently in place at all times e.g. restricting movements and social contacts, social distancing, use of facial coverings and hand hygiene.
2) Within the childcare facility
Mitigation measures – Please ensure all mitigation measures as recommended by Public Health in the HPSC guidance are attended to and considered how best to implement within
your specific facility. These measures include physical distancing, hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and the use of face-coverings where appropriate.
Break times – our experience from undertaking the public health risk assessments with facilities has been that not all the mitigation measures have been maximally adhered to
within breaktimes, or when arriving / leaving the facilities, particularly amongst staff members. Whilst we appreciate it is difficult to maintain at all times, it is vitally important
that processes are in place to facilitate adherence to these measures whilst staff are taking breaks etc e.g. staggering breaks to ensure maximum physical distancing can occur in staff
rooms. Ensuring cleaning protocols for surfaces in break areas etc
Staff movements – ensuring contacts and exposure are minimised for any cases which are identified within facilities must include careful consideration of staff movements and cover
during break times to ensure the number of new contacts are minimised within the service.
Face-coverings – to date face coverings has not been required for staff while caring directly for children. However, any staff member wishing to wear a face-covering at all times, should
be facilitated and supported in doing so. Face-coverings should be worn at all other times within the facility.
3) If informed of a case of Covid-19 within your facility
Please ring the HSE childcare facilities line if you haven’t already heard from Public Health, to ensure we are made aware as soon as possible. We will be formally notified of all cases and
will contact you as necessary. However, you may well get this information before we do, and this will help our response to you at this busy time.
Further information on Covid-19 is available at: http://http://www.hse.ie and http://www.hpsc.ie
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