ECE Alert Level 3 detail for your review

18 April 2020

What's new?

Here’s more information on what COVID-19 Alert Level 3 will look like for ECE, based on new detail from the Ministry of Education.

Have a read through – will send you another email later today with our thoughts on what’s proposed.

Think about how this would work in your centre and any issues – we’ll collate your feedback for the Ministry.


Here's what's proposed by the MoE

  • The minimum temperature in centres increases from 16oC to 18oC
  • An increase in the area per child from 2.5m2 to 3m2. This is based on the same area in your centre for children that applies to the 2.5m2 for children now
  • A maximum of 10 children in a group (note – this is NOT 10 per centre!), initially, increasing to 20 in a group in time
  • Your centre can have less children in a group but not more; and these revised group sizes are likely to be monitored by the Ministry
    Centre can have as many groups as it can under the 3m2 rule, noting the above group size requirements
  • You must ensure the same children are in the same group each day, but different teachers is OK to accommodate breaks, absences and rostering
  • If one child group reduces and additional children want to attend, the new kids must be in a new group
  • No requirement for PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for staff
  • Centres must complete a Contact Register, the Ministry will provide a format in due course
  • Two processes need to be developed:
    • How to select children to attend
    • How to respond to parents that you cannot accept
  • The Ministry are interested in gathering examples of concerns over workforce impacts and whether predicted returning enrolment numbers are being achieved
  • ECE teachers and others working in ECE are now regarded as “essential workers” although this designation is no longer that relevant
  • Playcentres may now open so long as they can meet the Level 3 criteria
  • Parents will be advised that they must choose one ECE service and stick with it; dual enrolments will not be permitted under L3
  • Transport to/from centres is being frowned at, with further guidance coming out on this next week
  • No word yet on the Childcare Subsidy from Work and Income, or on the other MoE ECE funding questions
  • The MoE propose publishing guidance for ECE services ASAP next week that should respond to most questions asked, with some specific responses to questions in addition to that

How do I make this work in my centre?

  • Step 1 – re-calculate your available space based on the 3m2 rule
    Determine how many groups of 10 children you can establish and, therefore, what your initial staffing needs will be
  • Step 2 – select the staff to work with these minimum numbers
    It’s important to involve your staff in the planning for this new, temporary environment, and the Ministry suggests supporting staff who feel uncomfortable working. Issues to consider include:
    • How to roster staff to cover the available groups
    • What if you have insufficient staff willing to work, beyond closure
    • Funding considerations
  • Step 3 – selecting the children who can attend
    You know your parents better than anyone, although if there is more interest than you have capacity for, this will be challenging. We suggest:
  • Consider enrolling the children of any essential workers (today’s definition) first and then fill in gaps from there
    • Explaining the approach to all parents early on so there is, at least, an awareness
    • The Ministry is concerned with this process too, and hope to release guidelines for parents shortly.
  • The ECC has asked the Ministry if centres with capacity issues can open one or more home-based networks for the surplus children, assuming you have teachers willing to do this. We await their response.

I’ve attended two video calls with other education leaders in the last two days to work through, and have been impressed by the constructive attitude and willingness to listen.

This process is happening at pace, and it’s important we represent your views and the issues you have. Read through these guidelines, formulate your thoughts and we’ll be back with the chance to feedback soon.

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