Level 3 re-opening requirements putting early learning centres under stress

31 August 2021
Early learning providers are being put in an impossible situation by the Ministry of Education’s requirements to re-open in Alert Level 3.

Early Childhood Education centres are being told to:

  • Open without PPE or social distancing
  • Re-open to meet any demand, even one child, or risk losing funding
  • Juggle maximum ventilation and minimum temperature requirements in the middle of winter

“Safety always comes first in early learning – providers need clear advice and better co-ordination between the Ministries of Health and Education, who seem to be scrambling to meet the Level 3 re-opening deadline,” said Early Childhood Council acting CEO Sue Kurtovich.

Providers and their teaching teams are already stressed about requirements to re-open for parents with no other care options in Level 3.

Adding impossible to meet compliance requirements is adding to the pressure.

“It makes sense in an airborne pandemic to have maximum ventilation, but opening all the doors and windows and having heat pumps on full? You can’t have it both ways in winter,” said ECC President Dr Darius Singh.

“The advice I got from the Ministry of Education was to consider my layout and try opening windows while moving bubbles of ten tamariki in and out of rooms I don’t have. The advice was completely impractical, and totally disconnected from my situation.”

“The early learning sector is willing to play its part to help re-open the labour market after lockdowns, but we need support too. Practical advice and allowing providers discretion, considering the situation we’re in, would make a big difference,” said Ms Kurtovich.

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