Instructions for the client families of early childhood education
Best wishes for a good start of a new term for all the guardians! In the early childhood education, day care centres and private family day care units the summertime has been spent leisurely while savouring the summer. Both children and staff have been enjoying their stay in the open units. Now, at the beginning of August, the day care centres will be opening again. Pre-school education and open early childhood education will start from 17 August onwards.
The Ministry of Education and Culture, the National Board of Education and the Department of Health and Welfare have issued guidelines for safely returning to and starting the early childhood education. We will continue following the hygiene guidelines issued due to the coronavirus pandemic also in early childhood education so that the risk for further coronavirus infections does not increase. We will be avoiding unnecessary close contacts and taking care of a good hygiene necessary to prevent the infections. Despite intensifying the hygiene measures, we will ensure that each child receives the closeness, open arms and safety they need provided by an adult.
If a coronavirus infection is detected in a day care centre or a family day care location, we will immediately notify the guardians and the staff of the unit in question.
Every child is entitled to a fulltime early childhood education
The law on early childhood education has changed beginning on 1 August 2020. This change means that every child has the right to receive fulltime early childhood education. For example, parental unemployment no longer restricts this right.
Pre-school education is organized as classroom education in a day care centre or a school. The coronavirus situation does not change the child’s timetable for participating in pre-school education or the child’s right to receive high-quality pre-school education. Absences from pre-school education will be notified the same way as before. The early childhood education teacher of the pre-school group can grant a leave for 1-5 days and the leaves exceeding 5 days are granted by the director of the day care centre. The permit for a leave can be applied for with an informal message sent via Wilma or via E-mail. Children belonging to specific risk groups will be taken into account in the transport organised for pre-school education. Each unit will be informing their children’s guardians in more detail about the practises concerning the transports and the pre-school education.
Visit the day care centre only in good health
When a child starts his or her early childhood education it is advisable to organise a 1-2 week-long orientation period for them. During the orientation period, the child’s guardian or a close person who is important to the child can get acquainted with the activities, the staff and the other children of the group together with the child as long as sufficient distances and hygiene measures are taken into account.
Orientations are mainly organised outdoors. Parents and children can visit the indoor premises of the day care centre when the centre is otherwise closed or when the children are outdoors. We shall organise the orientations in stages so that the number of participants remains small. Hand disinfectant gel is available at the entrances of the units and we recommend that everyone entering the day care centre uses it. The day care centres can only be visited in good health.
Orientations, for example, presentations of the day care centre director or the staff can also be carried out, for example, by using remote connections or by sending printed bulletins.
Day care centres or family day care units must not be attended when ill
Early childhood education must not be attended when ill. You must not bring your child in the day care centre or the family day care unit if he or she has any symptoms indicating an illness. This concerns children who might have only the slightest symptoms of respiratory infection such as a runny nose, cough or a sore throat. Also, the person picking up the child from the day care centre must be in good health.
Coronavirus causes a respiratory infection the symptoms of which may include e.g. cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath, muscle aches, abdominal symptoms (stomach upset) and headache.
It is advisable to take a child who has even mild respiratory symptoms to a coronavirus test by calling first the City of Oulu’s corona counselling number on 08 558 41414 (Mon-Thu 8-16, Fri 8-15). In the evenings and during weekends you can call the joint emergency policlinic of the Oulu district on 08 315 2655. Until the test result has been verified, you must avoid any contact with other people. If the test result is negative and the symptoms are clearly diminishing, the child can return to early childhood education even if the symptoms have not completely disappeared. If the symptoms start again later or if they increase, a new test should be taken.
If the symptoms are caused by an allergy and they diminish clearly after starting an allergy medication, the child can return to early childhood education even if the symptoms have not completely disappeared. If the symptoms do not diminish even after starting the medication, a new test should be taken.
If one family member falls ill with a respiratory infection, the other healthy members of the family can attend day care centre, school or work if it is deemed absolutely necessary. If a coronavirus infection is confirmed in your circle of closest people, the authorities will determine who must remain in quarantine.
Children at special risk
Children at special risk of developing a severe coronavirus disease are the children whose underlying illness already poses an increased risk for serious infections. The attending physician/doctor will assess if a child who has or whose family member has a severe underlying illness or who requires a regular medication lowering the defence mechanisms of the body will be able to attend early childhood education.
We are responsible for the health and safety in the early childhood education environment. If there are children at special risk attending early childhood education, we shall pay particular attention to their attendance and develop suitable ways of participation together with the guardians and the local authorities for infectious diseases.
We minimize the number of contacts
We continue avoiding unnecessary physical contacts in the day care centres and family day care units. We recommend that a child is brought and picked up by one person only which helps reducing the number of contacts. Please enter the interior of different groups in the day care centre by using each group’s own exterior door. The directors of the day care centres will give more detailed instructions concerning the policies of their own units.
The presence of persons other than the children and the early childhood education staff must be avoided in the area of the day care centres.
As a rule, the staff does not move from one unit to another but remains as much as possible with their own group of children. We will organise our activities as spaciously as possible both in the groups of children and outdoors, and we shall do a lot of outings.
Large joint events are not recommended if factors concerning space/distance and hygiene cannot be taken into account. During the autumn term, we will be organising parents’ evenings, for example, outdoors, via remote contacts or in smaller groups. We will be utilising electronic means of communication as extensively as possible.
Good hygiene prevents infections
Hand disinfectant is available at the entrances of the units and we recommend that everyone uses it when entering the day care centre. Both children and adults wash their hands whenever they arrive at the early childhood education and also before leaving for home. In addition, hands are washed before every meal, whenever children come inside from outdoors and every time after sneezing or coughing or whenever the hands are visibly dirty. Hands are dried in disposable paper towels.
We do not recommend the use of face masks in early childhood education. We pay attention to good hygiene particularly during the meals and the staff hands out the portions for the children. Meals will be organised within each group if possible and not as joint meals for all the groups in the dining room. In the dining room the meals will be organised separately in stages for each group of children.
Intensified cleaning practises are still used in the day care centres and we also make sure that the toys are washed often enough.
It is still recommended that children have separate clothes for attending the day care centre/family day care. An important comforter or a cuddly toy can be brought along and taken home at the end of the day.
Discussions concerning child’s early childhood education plan and pre-school learning plan
Discussions concerning the child’s early childhood education plan (vasu) and pre-school learning plan (LEOPS) will be organised during the autumn. We will utilise remote connections for these discussions as well. Early childhood education and pre-school education responds to children’s individual learning, development and well-being needs and supports the guardians in their upbringing.
More information can be obtained from the day care service coordination team tel. 08 558 45300 (telephone services weekdays 9–12), educare(at)ouka.fi
With good cooperation and by following the given guidelines we shall together ensure the safe return of children in early childhood education and pre-school education!
Mika Penttilä, director of educational and cultural services and Miia Kemppi, director of early childhood education