Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Questions (732, 733)

Matt Carthy

Question:

732. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the guidance available to childcare facilities regarding September 2020 reopening, specifically for drop offs, afterschool programmes and situations in which it is not feasible for pods and classes to avoid mixing; when further guidance will be published on these matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19062/20]

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Matt Carthy

Question:

733. Deputy Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the guidance available to childcare facilities for providing breakfast to students in cases in which it will not be feasible to do so on a pod and class basis and in which time prohibits the scheduling of rotation and cleaning between such a rotation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19063/20]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 732 and 733 together.

Expert guidance on the safe reopening of Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare services during the COVID-19 pandemic was published by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) on 29 May. The guidance recommends use of a “play pod” model, where possible, which restricts interactions between closed groups of children and adults as an alternative to social distancing, on the basis that social distancing is not possible between young children. Generally speaking the objective is to limit contact and sharing of common facilities between people in different play pods rather than to avoid all contact and sharing between play pods, as the latter will not be possible.

My officials have been working with the HPSC to produce a next version of the Guidance which will include advice on the safe interaction between schools and childcare facilities where children attend both. It is envisaged that this guidance will be available soon.

It is important to note that the HPSC Guidance and all of the reopening supports for services available on the First 5 website apply to both Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare.