Community of Practice: How to handle a confirmed Covid case in your service
Last night Kildare County Childcare Committee and Early Childhood Ireland hosted a Community of Practice online, which was attended by childcare providers from Kildare.
During this Community of Practice two Kildare providers kindly shared their experience of having a Covid positive case in their service, and how they dealt with this situation.
The first person to speak was the manager of a school aged childcare service who had this experience in September, when a child who attended the service tested positive. This service was based in a school so their response was linked to that of the school. Although the child had only attended two days in the previous two weeks 18 children were affected in terms of testing / having to isolate.
The manager was informed of the case by the HSE who also provided advice that they should immediately contact parents of other children in the same pod. They deemed that staff were not close contacts as they had worn masks at all times. The manager was required to fill in a spread sheet for contact tracing, which included Parent Name, contact details, child name and DOB. She felt this was a big enough task while trying to contact all parents with the appropriate information (eg. If their child was in the affected pod or if not), and it is something she will have ready in the future. As it was, only children in the affected pod were considered close contacts. Parents were very understanding when they were contacted and the provider found that they got a lot of support from the parents.
Overall, this service manager found that the experience was proof that following all of the guidance re. pods, cleaning, staffing protocols was working and felt that all of the months of worry and preparation for reopening had paid off. There was no onward transmission of Covid in this setting, or in the school associated with the case. The provider found that as their own children were also affected this gave a good insight into the process from both the perspective of provider and parent.
The main tips this provider had for others were:
The next provider to speak was an ECCE only service. A staff member tested positive in this case so this was a different experience. Once the staff member tested positive the service manager immediately took steps to notify parents, consult with the HSE and close the service.
Like the previous speaker, this manager contacted all parents and notified them, which is clearly a top priority. Most parents were found to be very understanding. The service had to close entirely, so both ECCE sessions were affected, as one staff member covered another for lunch. All children and the manager were then tested. The manager herself tested Covid positive but asymptomatic. No children tested positive which was a relief for the service and the affected families, although all had to self-isolate for a 14 day period.
The HSE consultant was found to be very supportive again in this case, giving clear guidance about what needed to be done. Staff in this service had not been wearing masks up until then, in line with guidance given, but they have chosen to wear them since.
This manager stressed the importance of staying in touch with parents and that keeping them up to speed worked really well in her case. Parents offered her lots of support, including one offering to do shopping which was very nice.
Following their description of their experiences, attendees at the event were given the opportunity to ask specific questions to the service providers and this was found to be a valuable session for all involved.
Both services found that their Covid experiences were actually an affirmation of the work they were doing. In both cases, luckily, no-one was seriously ill, which helped a lot.
Thanks again to those who shared their experiences at this event, and to Catherine and Debbie for organising.
COVID Guidance and contacts
These personal experiences provided very valuable first-hand descriptions to all who attended this Community of Practice, however it is vital to remember that all guidance from the HSE should be followed by any service with a Covid positive case.
The first contact should be HSE live:
phone lo call 1850 24 1850 - Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.
**The HSPC provides ‘Infection Prevention and Control guidance for Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare settings during the COVID-19 Pandemic’:
**The Decision Making pathways for children give general advice on how symptoms, contacts etc should be managed in general, however when there are confirmed cases public health will give specific guidance depending on the given situation: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/childcareguidance/COVID-19%20Assessment%20and%20testing%20pathway%20for%20children.pdf
**First 5 Covid 19 tip sheet: https://first5.gov.ie/userfiles/files/download/ad8327d7f0d963c1.pdf
**Pobal should be notified where Force Majeure closures will apply and Tusla should also be notified using this form: https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Tusla_Early_Years_Inspectorate_COVID-19_Notification_Form_(Version_2-_16_07_20).pdf
We would also appreciate if services could notify us in the Childcare Committee of any positive cases, as we are helping the DCYA to monitor cases in childcare services in the county (contact email@example.com).
Overseas travel note:
There was a question regarding families returning from overseas travel, this has been asked at a reopening advisory group and the guidance was:
- All overseas visitors should be self-isolating and should not be in contact with the children of a family they are staying with. If they are in contact with the family, then the family unit should be self-isolating