COVID-19 Policy

Meerilinga continues to support families, our workers and community during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and strives to minimise the risk of exposure in our services by adhering to all recommended guidelines from the Federal and State Governments, including WA Public Health Orders.  This involves having additional measures in place to inform and protect our Meerilinga community, as outlined in Meerilinga’s COVID-19 Policy below.

Meerilinga is currently on Green Alert in accordance with our ongoing Infection Prevention and Control Measures and current WA public health advice:

  • Stay home if unwell
  • Physical distancing
  • Personal hygiene
  • Environmental cleaning
  • Immunisation

Standby for Red Alert

Confirmed positive case at a Meerilinga location, where the Location Outbreak Response Procedure will be initiated.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Management Policy

Policy Statement

COVID-19 is a contagious viral infection that generally causes respiratory illness in humans. The World Health Organization (WHO), has declared that COVID-19 outbreak as a ‘pandemic’- a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (effective 11 March 2020). This is mainly due to the speed and scale of transmission of the virus in countries around the world, including Australia.

Presentation can range from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe illness with potentially life-threatening complications.

COVID-19 is transmitted from someone who is infected with the virus to others in close contact through contaminated droplets spread by coughing or sneezing or by contact with contaminated hands or surfaces. According to Department of Health, the time of exposure to the virus and when symptoms first occur is anywhere from 2-7 days.

Symptoms can range from a mild illness, similar to a cold or flu, to pneumonia. People with COVID-19 may experience:

  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms such as dry cough, sore/scratchy throat, runny nose, and fatigue
  • shortness of breath

The Australian Federal and State Government is continually updating the current status of COVID-19 including health recommendations, travel restrictions, and a vast collection of resources and information to help people make informed decisions.

As this information is changing rapidly, Meerilinga is monitoring health alerts and implementing infection prevention and control measures suggested by key health experts to minimise the transmission of COVID-19.

We have conducted a COVID-19 risk assessment and have comprehensive policies in place to guide best practice in relation to health and safety, dealing with infectious diseases and maintaining a safe environment. Our duty of care and responsibilities to children, families, students, volunteers and all staff to provide a safe environment is of utmost importance.

The evolving nature of COVID-19 and the unprecedented steps required to protect our community as recommended by the Australian Government, has resulted in the development of a specific policy to assist our organisation to manage this pandemic.

This policy will change as required to ensure the protective measures against COVID-19 as advised by our Government are implemented by our Services.

Policy Purpose

Meerilinga will minimise exposure to COVID-19 by adhering to all recommended guidelines from the Australian Government – Department of Health and local Public Health Units to slow the spread of the virus.

We will implement practices that help to reduce the transmission of the virus including the exclusion of any person (child, educator, staff, parent, visitor or volunteer) that is suspected or has tested positive to having COVID-19.

Meerilinga’s COVID-19 Management Plan including Polices and Processes have been developed in accordance with current legislation, guidelines and advice from recognised authorities.

This Policy must be read in conjunction with our other relevant and associated sections of the organisational policies and processes.

Meerilinga Policy and Process Manual:

  • Section 1 – Strategic and Business Planning (Code of Ethics & Conduct)
  • Section 2 – Human Resources
  • Section 3 – Finance, Assets and Administration
  • Section 4 – Branding, Image & Reputation
  • Section 5 – Meerilinga Training College
  • Section 6 – Children’s Program
  • Section 7 – Workplace Health and Safety
  • Section 8 – Guidelines

Our Services will provide up-to-date information and advice to parents, families, students and educators sourced from the Australian Government, Department of Health and State Ministry of Health about COVID-19 as it becomes available. Recommendations and health measures mandated by the Health Department will be strictly adhered to at all times.

Scope

This policy applies to the Board of Governors, Executive, all workers, customer, clients, students, volunteers and those employed on a fee for service or contract basis while conducting Meerilinga business.

Exclusions

Nil.

Policy Review

At least annually or from time to time the organisation may make changes to this policy to improve the effectiveness of its operation.

Implementation

Meerilinga is committed to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus by implementing recommendations provided by the Australian Government- Department of Health and Safe Work Australia.

Meerilinga is a registered COVID Safe Business with our Western Australian Government. All Meerilinga service locations have a COVID Safety Plan in place.

COVID Safety Plan

We are guided by explicit decisions regarding exclusion periods and notification of any infectious disease by the Australian Government – Department of Health and local Public Health Unit (PHU) in our jurisdiction under the Public Health Act. COVID-19 is a notifiable condition in all states and territories of Australia.

Refer to our Illness and Infectious Disease Policy and Processes

National Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Information Line: 1800 020 080. Call 131 450 for translating and interpreting service
Health Direct: 1800 022 222
WA Department of Health WA – Communicable Disease Control Directorate: 9222 0255 or after hours emergency 9328 0553

The Public Health Unit may contact the CEO / Approved Provider in the event of any person who has attended one of our facilities and has tested positive to COVID-19.

Refer to the Local Outbreak Response point within this Policy.

Meerilinga will explore all Government COVID-19 support and financial relief initiatives available for the business and all people working or associated with Meerilinga programs and services.

Caring for our community

We understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 and the constant amount of information received through the media may be very stressful for people. The anxiety about this disease may be overwhelming and cause fear and anxiety to some people, especially children.

Meerilinga is committed to providing quality services, to continue support for all persons of the organisation and community.

We will promote a safe and supportive environment for children and adults by:

  • Reassuring they are safe.
  • Acknowledging and listening questions.
  • Promoting and implementing protective control measures such hygiene routines for handwashing, cough and sneezing and daily cleaning.
  • Keeping regular and familiar routines within our Service.
  • Ensuring we eat well throughout the day.
  • Engage in physical activities, play and games.
  • Be alert to raised anxiety levels in people.
  • Ensuring children are provided with rest and sleep when needed.
  • Providing current information and support services as required.

Vulnerable persons can be defined as people at a higher risk for poor health because of the barriers they experience due to social, economic, political and environmental factors as well as limitations due to illness or disability.

Refer to Workforce Management – Self-Isolation as a Precaution point in this policy.

Knowing how to look after yourself, and others is very important during these unprecedented times.

Refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Worker Wellbeing Policy

Minimising the transmission of COVID-19: Risk Management

Meerilinga has effective and systematic risk management processes in place. We have completed a COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Management Plan to identify any possible risks and hazards to people, our environments and practices related to COVID-19.  Where possible, we have eliminated or minimised these risks as is reasonably practicable.

Our COVID-19 Management plan includes Meerilinga’s ongoing COVID-19 Risk Alert Status and Actions in accordance with the latest Government Public Health advice and directive from Meerilinga Executive. Refer to the Process section for all Alert Status Actions.

Meerilinga COVID-19 Risk Alert and Actions

Meerilinga COVID-19 Risk Alert and Actions

Control measures are reviewed in consultation with our stakeholders and in accordance with current health advice. Due to the constant changes in managing our services and programs during the pandemic, our approach to risk management is ongoing and fluid

Infection Prevention and Control Measures – Ongoing (Green Alert)

Stay home if unwell control measures:

Symptoms of COVID-19 include but not limited to fever, chills or night sweats, sore throat, cough, tiredness, difficulty breathing, headache, muscle pain, loss of taste and smell.

Seek medical advice and get tested if required.

Individual cases will be assessed and based on the risk at the time, Meerilinga may request a medical clearance upon return.

Refer to the point on Managing Illness at a Meerilinga Facility control measures within this Policy.

Physical Distancing

Maintain distance of 1.5m apart from other people in accordance with the minimum requirement or as directed by the latest Public Health Advice.

*Exemption applies to Meerilinga Early Learning Programs due to the age and needs of young children. Licensed early childhood education and care services are exempt from physical distancing from children

Distancing is crucial as the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, typically within 1 metre (short-range). A person can be infected when aerosols or droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth when a person breathes, speaks, coughs and sneezes.

Windows and doors should be left open to increase ventilation within the building as the virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 metre (long-range).

Personal Hygiene

The national campaign Help Stop The Spread and Stay Healthy, launched by the Australian Government has emphasised that good hygiene is a vital strategy to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

People may become infected by touching objects or surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus when touching their eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning their hands.

  • Regular Hand Washing with soap and water, or >60% alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Enhanced personal hygiene measures have been introduced for children, families and staff. Healthy WA – Facts about Hand Hygiene
  • Avoid touching your face unless you have washed or sanitised your hands.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use your inner elbow.
Personal Hygiene control measures:
  • Handwashing with soap and water in the first instance is best practice, and in accordance with effective hand hygiene outlined in our Health, Hygiene and Infection Control Policy.
  • Hand washing facilities are accessible in all areas of the premises.  Alcohol-based hand sanitiser >60% will be available in a wall mounted dispenser upon entry and exit of the premises. Kept out of reach of young children and only available for adults to use. If parents decide to apply this to their child, they must supervise their child to avoid rubbing it into their eyes or ingesting.
  • All workers, parents, children, students and visitors must wash their hands upon arrival and departure of the premises.
  • Handwashing procedure must be followed at all times. ‘How to wash your hands’ signs will be displayed at all handwashing areas for children and adults.
  • Children are supervised when washing hands.
  • Hands must be thoroughly dried using clean hand towel or disposal paper and disposed of in the bin provided.
  • Disposable tissues must be used to wipe noses, eyes or mouths and disposed of in the bin provided immediately after use, and then wash hands.
  • Cough and sneeze etiquette must be maintained – cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or use your inner elbow.
  • Educators and staff must adhere to effective food preparation and food handling procedures. Refer to Food Handing point within Health, Hygiene and Infection Control Policy.

Environmental Cleaning

Clean surfaces and objects regularly throughout the day. Compliance with policy and processes relevant to daily cleaning schedules and procedures that align with Staying Healthy – National Health and Medical Resource Council Guidelines and Infection prevention and control advice for environmental cleaning in non-healthcare settings (home and workplace)

Environmental Cleaning control measures:
  • All persons included in the scope of this Policy must adhere to our Health, Hygiene and Infection Control Policy and Procedures for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment (such as indoor outdoor toys, puzzles, furniture, floors bedding etc) in accordance with Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services guidelines and the Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Principles for COVID-19.
  • Universal cleaning processes will apply across the organisation, these include specific colour coded cleaning equipment (labelled) for separate areas to reduce the risk of cross contamination eg: children and adult bathroom facilities.
  • Workers and community facility hire people are responsible for maintaining the Internal Cleaning Schedule for all surfaces and equipment cleaned daily or at the end of a booked session at Meerilinga premises.
  • Bathroom facilities for children and adults have adequate supplies of hand soap, paper towel, toilet paper and lined rubbish bin.
  • Where local community transmission of COVID-19 has been reported and Amber alert status enacted, there will be an increase in frequency of cleaning high-touch point surfaces – taps, door handles, light switches, telephones, keyboards, bathrooms, nappy change areas and toys using detergent and water followed by disinfectant.
  • Contract cleaners must hygienically clean the premises in accordance with the Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Principles for COVID-19 to ensure risk of contamination is removed.

Information control measures:

Signage and notices will be displayed in prominent locations to remind all people of the risks of COVID-19 and the necessary protective measures that must be adhered to at Meerilinga.

We will establish regular communication channels with families, students, volunteers and workers to share information about COVID-19. This will be communicated through our website, email, social media and Earlyworks.

Information provided may include:

  • Symptoms of COVID-19
  • Transmission of the virus
  • Self-isolation and exclusion
  • Prevention strategies- including hand hygiene and self-isolation
  • Contact details for health assistance
  • Payment of fees in accordance with any Government changes to CCS.

Due to the reactive nature of COVID-19 and the necessity of self-isolation or quarantine for some workers, our Service will endeavour to inform parents and families of any staff changes on as required.

Communication control measures:

In accordance with a Government Public Health Order, all changes to Meerilinga’s COVID-19 risk alert status eg: Amber or Red will be communicated by Meerilinga Chief Executive Officer or delegate to the Advisory Services team in the first instance.

Advisory Service members will inform Place Administrators, other workers, volunteers and external students within their service areas and manage service delivery as required.

The Executive together with a nominated Advisor will develop a written statement for relevant service locations, to communicate and advise of the latest restrictions at Meerilinga. This statement will be distributed via email to:

  • Board of Governors by CEO
  • Advisory Services team by the Executive
  • Families enrolled in Meerilinga Early Learning Programs by the Enrolment Advisor
  • Students enrolled in Meerilinga Training College by the Integration Advisor
  • Community venue bookings and  tenants by Finance Advisor
  • Community groups casual and long term by Operational Advisor or delegate

Only if directed by the Executive, relevant Advisors may be required to share this statement via email, Earlyworks, or Meerilinga private Facebook pages.

Refer to the Process section for Alert Status Actions – Standby and Closure Procedure and Location Outbreak – Rapid Response Procedure.

Immunisation control measures:

Vaccination is the most effective way to protect against infectious diseases. Meerilinga workers, students, families, children, volunteers and contractors are encouraged to seek medical advice for the following vaccines:

  • Flu
  • COVID-19

Training and Education control measures:

At the time of induction, all Meerilinga workers, students and volunteers must read the COVID-19 related Polices and Processes and complete the approved mandatory COVID-19 Infection Control Training.

Additional training for managing various aspects of COVID-19 is provided to workers, such as but not limited to:

  • Mental Health and wellbeing
  • Protective procedures for managing unruly / disruptive / angry person.
  • WHS – PPE, testing and isolation protocols
  • Supporting families, workers, students and community
Early Learning Programs:

Talking to children about COVID-19

In accordance with our Relationships and Interactions with Children as well as our Relationships and Partnerships with Families Policies, our Service is committed to maintaining positive interactions and relationships with children and their families.

Through intentional teaching strategies and in accordance with our Children’s Experiences, Learning and Education Policy, information will be provided to children about COVID-19 in a manner that is age appropriate and sensitive to their emotional wellbeing. Educators will both acknowledge children’s concerns and be open to discussions about COVID-19.

Educator resources used to support children’s enquiry and learning as well as sharing with families:

Dr Michelle DickinsonVideo for kids about COVID-19

Emerging MindsTalking to Children about Natural Disasters, Traumatic Events or Worries About the Future

Play SchoolHello Friends! (A COVID-19 Special)

UNICEFHow to talk to your child about COVID-19

Educators will inform children about the virus and emphasise preventative measures such as handwashing, use of tissues, cough and sneeze techniques, play in small groups and limit touching other children, particularly their faces.

Children’s visual posters to demonstrate correct handwashing methods will be displayed at child level near handwashing basins. Educators will refer to, as well as sing handwashing songs and role model techniques eg: Playschool ‘Wash your hands’ song 

Children’s emotional well-being will be closely monitored by all educators and staff and any concerns communicated with parents and families.

Children’s questions will be respected and supported.

In the event of the Service being closed as a precaution to limit the spread of the virus, information will be provided to parents/families to help explain the situation to young children.

Meerilinga Training College:

MTC has completed risk assessment and will comply with State health requirements and any local restrictions in the delivery of HLT First Aid Training and COVID-19. Reasonable adjustment will apply when assessing student competency during CPR assessment process and as such, students will not be required to demonstrate breaths directly into the manikin and can perform breaths to the side of the manikin. Australian Industry and Skills Committee Statement

Refer to Risk Assessment and Management – HLTAID004 Training and COVID-19

Managing Illness at a Meerilinga Facility control measures:

In accordance with our Illness and Infectious Disease Policy, we reserve the right to refuse entry to our services and programs if an adult or child:

  • Have a contagious illness or infectious disease
  • Are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Have been in close contact with a person who has a positive confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Are unwell and unable to participate in normal activities or require additional attention.
  • Have had a temperature/fever, or vomiting in the last 24 hours.
  • Have had diarrhoea in the last 24 hours.
  • Have been given medication for a temperature prior to arriving at the Service.
  • Have started a course of anti-biotics in the last 24 hours.

If a person becomes ill whilst onsite, we will respond to their individual symptoms of illness and provide comfort and care. The person will be taken to the designated isolated area within the Service.  The person caring for the ill person will maintain personal hygiene practices by regularly washing hands and wearing PPE, disposable gloves and mask to avoid possible contamination.

Adult Workers, Volunteers or Students:

Will be encouraged to seek medical advice and can leave the Service providing they a well enough to transport themselves or alternative arrangements made.

Children:

If a child is showing any signs of being unwell, the parent/guardian will be contacted immediately and required to collect the child within 30 minutes. If they are unable to collect the child, an emergency contact person will be contacted, and they must collect the child within 30 minutes. Parent/guardian will be encouraged to seek medical advice.

The child is showing signs of a high temperature, their temperature will be taken and if the temperature is above 37.5°C, the parent/guardian will be contacted as above.

Educators will attempt to lower your child’s temperature by:

  • Removing excessive clothing (shoes, socks, jumpers).
  • Encourage your child to take small sips of water.

Educators will keep accurate records of the child’s temperature, time taken, time parent/guardian were contacted, staff member’s name and time of collection.

All information will be recorded in our Child Incident Report. Parent/guardian will be required to sign this record upon collection of their child.

Cases will be individually assessed and based on the risk at the time, Meerilinga may request a medical clearance for adults and children to return.

Following an ill person’s departure from the Service, surfaces and equipment in the isolation area must be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with our Health, Hygiene and Infection Control Policy and Procedures.

WA Government Public Health Orders (Amber Alert)

In the interest of public health and safety, and as a result of confirmed positive cases of community transmission of COVID-19, the Western Australian Government may declare a State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Act and the Public Health Act. Additional control measures and restrictions will apply to reduce the spread and impact of virus in our community.

WA Gov Information about current restrictions in Western Australia

The current WA State of Emergency and Public Health State of Emergency Declarations will specifically outline all Public Health Orders made in response to confirmed positive cases of community transmission of COVID-19 in Western Australia.

Communicating Amber alert to the Meerilinga community (eg: workers, families, students and visitors) will be in accordance with the ‘Meerilinga Standby Procedure’ located in the process section of this Policy.

Meerilinga will monitor and act on WA Public Health Orders as directed which may include but not limited to the following restrictions:

  • Venue Capacity Limit refers to the number of people who can be in the community areas of our facilities at the same time eg: 2 sqm or 4 sqm per person.
  • Mandatory Face Masks to be worn in public by all persons over the age specified in the Order (eg: 8 or 12 years).
  • High Caseload Environment when WA reaches a high caseload environment,  based on the State’s epidemiological and outbreak response, and subject to the latest health advice.
    If a high caseload environment has been confirmed, the definition of close contact and testing and isolation protocols may change.

Additional control measures may be enacted for individual Meerilinga facilities and mobile outreach programs/services due to widespread community transmission of COVID-19.

  • Lockdown for specific regions of WA, where people will be required to stay home unless otherwise stated in the current Declaration.
Location Outbreak Response (Red Alert)

Meerilinga business is centred on education, families and community therefore a single confirmed positive case of COVID-19 associated with a Meerilinga facility is classed as an outbreak.

Any person associated with a Meerilinga facility who has been deemed a close contact to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 as defined by WA Department of Health must notify Meerilinga. Refer to Location Outbreak Response Procedure points below.

Communicating Red alert to the Meerilinga community (eg: workers, families, students and visitors) will be in accordance with the ‘Meerilinga Outbreak Response Procedure’ located in the process section of this Policy.

Confirmed case of COVID-19 associated with a Meerilinga facility

Meerilinga location will be notified that someone who has attended the facility has since tested positive for COVID-19 by the person who tested positive (parent / guardian if a child)

A child or adult who is confirmed positive case of COVID-19 will need to go into self-isolation to prevent further spread and follow the WA Health ‘What to do if you have COVID-19 or Close Contact’ testing and isolation protocols.

All confirmed cases (or guardian for children) of COVID-19 will provide more information on their infectious period to the Responsible Person, to ensure they can effectively manage individual cases at location.

The privacy and confidentiality of the person who tested positive for COVID-19 must always be maintained. The identity of the person must not be disclosed unless the case gives permission to do so.

Management of COVID-19 positive case

Meerilinga is required to investigate and manage all confirmed positive cases, to ensure the COVID-19 risk is safely managed at the location.

In the event of a report of location outbreak, the following response steps will be undertaken by the location Responsible person and in consultation with nominated Advisor:

Confirm the result

Confirming the test and result will provide the information required when determining if the case was infectious whilst at location.

The following methods and result are accepted for a confirmed COVID-19 case:

  • PCR positive (regardless of the result of recent RAT)
  • RAT positive
Determine infectious period

The date when a person became infectious must be determined and recorded.

The infectious period for a COVID-19 positive person is taken from 48 hours before the onset of symptoms or before their positive test result if they do not have any symptoms. The person is considered infectious until the end of their isolation period.

If determined the person did attend the facility during their infectious period, contact tracing will commence.

Determine isolation and testing dates

A child or adult who is confirmed positive case of COVID-19 will need to go into self-isolation to prevent further spread and follow the WA Health ‘What to do if you have COVID-19 or Close Contact’ testing and isolation protocols.

These protocols include modified isolation arrangements apply to people who are close contacts as defined by WA Public Health.

Informing location facility members of outbreak

At all times, privacy laws must be adhered to and personal information, including disclosing the name of the person must not be shared without permission.

If determined that a person did attend the facility during their infectious period, a COVID-19 infection notice with the infection date will be displayed at the entry to the premises.

The notice will not be displayed if the person did not attend the facility during their infectious period.

Refer to Meerilinga Location Outbreak Response Procedure in the process section of this policy.

Notifications

If the confirmed COVID-19 positive case is associated with our licensed Education and Care Service, and it’s determined the case was at location whilst infectious, the CEO or nominated delegate will notify the Department of Communities Education and Care Regulatory Unit (ECRU) within 24 hours of:

  • Confirmed positive case and
  • Temporary closure (if directed by ECRU on advice from WA Health) and
  • Re-opening after temporary closure

via the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) or call ECRU on 6277 3889.

ECRU will report to WA Health.

* Note: Education and care services (ECS) requiring additional advice must contact ECRU and they will facilitate the provision of relevant health advice from WA Health.

Employers, principal contractors and contractors are not required to notify non-fatal incidents of COVID-19 to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, WorkSafe as WA Health are already notified of confirmed cases by medical practitioners.

Facility management during investigation

The location Responsible person in consultation with the nominated Advisor will undertake a situational analysis and make a risk assessment of the facility following initial notification of a COVID-19 positive case, where a member of the facility was found to be infectious while on location.

This will be determined on a case by case basis and include:

  • Following the ‘Management of COVID-19 positive case’ response steps.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of facility – see below guidance

Cleaning and disinfecting guidance

Cleaning and disinfecting will be carried out in accordance with ‘environmental cleaning’ in Meerilinga’s ongoing infection prevention and control measures – Green Alert status and actions.

Specialist cleaning is not required. There is no requirement for a certificate of cleaning and disinfection to be issued for the premises to continue or resume routine operations. Guidance for the management of COVID-19 in the workplace

COVID-19 support for Early Childhood sector

Australian Government support to the early childhood education and care sector in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation:

Gap Fee Waiving

Until 30 June 2023, services can waive the gap fee and receive Child Care Subsidy (CCS) if a child is unable to attend care for one of four reasons:

  1. The child must isolate due to COVID-19. Families must provide evidence for our records that supports isolation due to COVID-19.
  2. The child is at a higher risk of severe disease from COVID-19. This includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Where the child has a disability or chronic health condition, the family must provide a letter for our records from a medical practitioner confirming the child is at higher risk before the service can waive the gap fee.
  3. The service, or a room at the service, is closed due to COVID-19. This includes where a service closes based on general guidance from a state or territory government agency, or because educator to child ratios cannot be safely met as the educator/s must isolate. Written advice specific to the impacted service is not required.
  4. The state or territory has restricted access to child care in a region due to COVID-19. This includes where the state or territory has restricted school attendance, in the case of Outside School Hours Care.

Families choosing to keep their child at home may use their allowable absences but must pay a gap fee to the service.

Refer to Department of Education, Skills and Employment – Gap Fee Waiving and includes records that must be obtained and kept by the service.

Workforce Management

Meerilinga will ensure a robust plan for workforce management is in place through the pandemic, including identification of critical staff positions and contingency planning for replacement of staff.

Children and Family Services

In the event of a number of Educators requiring to self-isolate due to possible infection of COVID-19, the Approved Provider may apply to the Regulatory Authority for a qualification waiver to minimise disruptions to our provision of care.

The legislation allows for the qualifications for an educator to be waived and does not waive the number of educators required. ECRU COVID-19 staffing waiver information can be submitted as part of the application. The fee for a waiver for COVID-19 related purposes will be waived.

Employee Entitlements – Fair Work Commission

There have been a number of temporary changes made to workplace laws by the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) due to the impact of coronavirus on workplaces.

As a result, the Commission has over time varied some provisions in some awards to give employers and employees extra flexibility to agree on alternative working arrangements.

Refer to Changes to workplace laws during coronavirus for the current list of temporary award variations that apply.

List of government services and agencies providing information, advice and services – Fairwork Ombudsman  Government information and assistance

Meerilinga is permitted to request employees to perform different duties within their skill and competence, the Executive will explore options for staffing and flexible work arrangements with individual employees. Any direction from consultation with the employee will be at least three (3) days provided before any change is implemented.

Arrangements may include: reduction in hours, request employees to take annual leave or other leave entitlements, or changes to rostering and duties.

Employees may be requested to complete activities such as:

  • Professional development learning.
  • Programming and documentation.
  • Updating the Quality Improvement Planning.
  • Conducting cleaning within the service and room preparation.
  • Completing any maintenance required as per risk assessments.
  • Develop and maintain connection with families choosing to stay home, via social media. Providing information on the current experiences and activities happening in the program at the Service using photos, video’s, including live feeds and activities for children to do at home.

The Executive will obtain written consent by the employees of any changes in their work conditions.

Employee entitlements if sick or suspected to have COVID-19

Our organisation must ensure the health and safety of all employees under the principal OSH law in Western Australia consisting of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984, supported by the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.

Full and part-time employees who cannot attend work due to illness can take paid sick leave. If they have no paid sick leave left, they can take unpaid sick leave.

Refer to Fair Work – Sick leave due to COVID-19

Caring for a family member or emergency

Fulltime or part-time employees are entitled to take paid carer’s if they need to look after a family or household member who’s sick with coronavirus, or if there’s an unexpected emergency.

Full-time and part-time employees can take unpaid carer’s leave if they have no paid sick or carer’s leave left. Casual employees are entitled to 2 days of unpaid carer’s leave per occasion.

Reasonable evidence is required to justify all absence.

Refer to Fair Work – Carer’s leave due to COVID-19

Quarantine and self-isolation

 Refer to Fair Work – Quarantine and self-isolation pay and leave options

Employees have a responsibility, under workplace health and safety laws, to take reasonable care not to adversely affect the health and safety of others at work.

Employees can’t go to work if they need to quarantine or self-isolate because they:

If an employee can’t work because they have to quarantine or self-isolate, they should contact their employer immediately to discuss:

  • Leave options
  • Flexible working options.
Pandemic Payment – State and National Government

Meerilinga workers who meet the eligibility criteria may be entitled to pandemic payment under the COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment Scheme

  • Western Australia COVID-19 Test Isolation Payment OR
  • Australian Government’s Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

for workers who have been directed to isolate while waiting for a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result, are unable to work from home and do not have access to paid leave or other income.

Self-isolation as a precaution

Employees who haven’t been directed to stay home because of an enforceable government direction will need to come to an arrangement that must be approved by the Executive.

Discussion and application to the employees direct report may include requesting to work from home (if this is a safe and practical option) or taking some form of leave, such as annual leave or long service leave. Normal leave application processes still apply.

Where vulnerable workers undertake essential work, a risk assessment will be undertaken. Risks are assessed on a case-by-case basis and mitigated with consideration of the characteristics of the worker, the workplace and the work. This includes ensuring vulnerable people are redeployed to non-customer-based roles where possible.

Where risk cannot be appropriately mitigated, alternative working arrangements may be considered and approved by the Executive to accommodate workplace absence.

Refer to Fair Work – Employees who want to stay home as a precaution

Self-Isolation directed by the Employer

Meerilinga reserves the right to request employees to self-isolate if they suspect they have come into contact with someone who has a confirmed COVID-19 infection.

Where an employee is directed by the Executive to stay home and self-isolate because they have shown symptoms of a flu-like illness, and the employee has expressed they are not sick and able to work, Meerilinga will encourage them to seek medical advice and continue to pay the employee as per their contract.

If practicable, working from home arrangements must be negotiated with and approved by the CEO.

Refer to Fair Work  – Employers who want their employees to stay home as a precaution

Unpaid Pandemic Leave during quarantine and self-isolation

Some employees have access to unpaid pandemic leave.

Employees who are employed under one of the affected awards can access up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave (or more by agreement with their employer) if they’re prevented from working:

  • As a result of being required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities, or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner, or
  • By measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic (for example, an enforceable government direction restricting non-essential businesses).

The leave is available to full-time, part-time and casual employees in full immediately. They don’t have to accrue it.

Employees don’t have to use all their paid leave before accessing unpaid pandemic leave.

Refer to Fair Work – Unpaid pandemic leave in awards and includes notice and evidence required the employee.

Notice and medical certificates

An employee needs to give their employer reasonable evidence that they are not fit for work if their employer asks for it. This also applies to situations relating to coronavirus  Notice and medical certificates

Workplace closure due to COVID-19

Refer to Fair Work – When workplaces shut quickly because of lockdown

  • Stand downs
  • Enforceable government directions:
    – Working from home
    – Going to work – providing essential services
    – Taking care of a child
    – Taking leave
    – Change in working hours and duties
    – Border closure: pay and leave options
  • Financial support
    – Pandemic leave disaster payment
    – COVID-19 hardship payments
  • Mental health support
Process Details
Process
Process Owner CEO
Effective Date 12 July 2022
Date of Last Revision 10 June 2022

 

Process Details
  Description
1.

Meerilinga COVID-19 Management Plan

developed in conjunction with the:

  • Government of Western Australia COVID-19 current Public Health advice in accordance with the National Cabinet principles.
  • WA COVID Safety Plan Guidelines and Certificate displayed in a prominent position at all Meerilinga service locations.
  • Meerilinga COVID-19 Risk Assessment and Management Plan
  • Meerilinga COVID-19 Risk Management Processes including Risk Alert and Actions.

Meerilinga COVID-19 Risk Alert and Actions

2.

Meerilinga COVID-19 Risk Alert and Actions

Refer to Implementation section of this Policy for a detailed overview of control measures for each Risk Alert point and actions in this process.

Green Alert  –  Infection Prevention and Control Measures – Ongoing
Stay Home if Unwell
  • Seek medical advice and get tested if required.
 Physical Distancing
Personal Hygiene
  • Regular hand washing
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
Environmental Cleaning
  • Regular cleaning of surfaces and objects throughout the day.
Information
  • Signs and notices displayed in prominent locations to remind all people of the risks of COVID-19 and protective measure that must be adhered to.
  • Establish regular communication channels with families, students, volunteers and workers to share information about COVID-19. This will be communicated through our website, email, social media and Earlyworks.
Communication
  • Refer to Amber Alert Process section for ‘Meerilinga Standby Procedure’
  • Refer to Red Alert Process section for ‘Meerilinga Closure Procedure’
Training and Education
  • Induction and mandatory training
  • Additional training for managing various aspects of COVID-19
  • Talking to children about COVID-19 in our Early Learning Programs
  • Meerilinga Training College reasonable adjustment in the delivery of HLT First Aid training and COVID-19.
Managing Illness at a Meerilinga Facility
  • In accordance with our Illness and Infectious Disease Policy
  • If a person becomes ill whilst onsite, we will respond to their individual symptoms of illness and provide comfort and care. The person will be taken to the designated isolated area within the service. The person caring for the ill person will maintain personal hygiene practices by regularly washing hands and wearing PPE, disposable gloves and mask to avoid possible contamination.

Adult Workers, Volunteers or Students:
Will be encouraged to seek medical advice and can leave the Service providing they a well enough to transport themselves or alternative arrangements made.

Children:
If a child is showing any signs of being unwell, the parent/guardian will be contacted immediately and required to collect the child within 30 minutes. If they are unable to collect the child, an emergency contact person will be contacted and they must collect the child within 30 minutes. Parent/guardian will be encouraged to seek medical advice.

3.

Amber Alert –  WA Government Public Health Orders

As a result of confirmed positive cases of community transmission of COVID-19, the Western Australian Government may declare a State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Act and the Public Health Act.

The current WA State of Emergency and Public Health State of Emergency Declaration will specifically outline all Public Health Orders made in response to confirmed positive cases of community transmission.

Meerilinga will comply with the WA Public Health Orders as directed, which may include but not limited to the following restrictions:

Venue Capacity Limit 
  • The number of people who can be in the community areas of our facilities at the same time eg: 2 sqm or 4 sqm per person.
Mandatory Face Masks
  • To be worn in as directed.
  • Approved disposable face masks will be provided to workers, students, volunteers and visitors to Meerilinga premises as required. Masks must be used correctly in accordance with the recommended guidelines.
High Caseload Environment
  • If a high caseload environment confirmed, the definition of close contact and testing and isolation protocols may change.
  • Additional control measures may be enacted for individual Meerilinga facilities and mobile outreach programs/services due to widespread community transmission of COVID-19

Lockdown

  • For specific regions of WA, where people will be required to stay home unless otherwise stated in the current Declaration.

4.

Red Alert  –  Local Outbreak Response

A single confirmed positive case of COVID-19 associated with a Meerilinga facility is classed as an outbreak.

Any person associated with a Meerilinga facility who has been deemed a close contact to a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 as defined by WA Department of Health must notify Meerilinga and self-isolate immediately. Refer to Location Outbreak Response Procedure points below.

Communicating Red alert to the Meerilinga community (eg: workers, families, students and visitors) will be in accordance with the Meerilinga ‘Location Outbreak Response Procedure’.

Confirmed Case of COVID-19 Associated with a Meerilinga Facility
  • Meerilinga location will be notified that someone who has attended the facility has since tested positive for COVID-19 by
  • the person who has tested positive (parent/guardian if a child).
  • A child or adult who is confirmed positive case of COVID-19 to go into self-isolation to prevent further spread and follow the WA Health ‘What to do if you have COVID-19 or Close Contact’ testing and isolation protocols.
  • All confirmed cases (or guardian for children) of COVID-19 will provide more information on their infectious period to the Responsible Person, to ensure they can effectively manage individual cases at location.
  • The privacy and confidentiality of the person who tested positive for COVID-19 must always be maintained. The identity of the person must not be disclosed unless the case gives permission to do so.
Management of COVID-19 Positive Case

Meerilinga will investigate and manage all location confirmed positive cases, to ensure the COVID-19 risk is safely managed.

In the event of a report of location outbreak, using the ‘COVID-19 Location Positive Case Report’ form, the following response steps will be undertaken by the location Responsible person and in consultation with nominated Advisor:

1. Confirm the result

Information required when determining infectious period.

The following methods and result are accepted for a confirmed COVID-19 case:

  • PCR positive (regardless of the result of recent RAT)
  • RAT positive

2. Determine Infectious Period

The date when a person became infectious must be determined and recorded.

 The infectious period for a COVID-19 positive person is taken from 48 hours before:

  • The onset of their symptoms OR
  • Their positive test result if they do not have any symptoms.

* The person is considered infectious until the end of their isolation period.

3. Determine Isolation and Testing Dates

A child or adult who is confirmed positive case of COVID-19 will need to go into self-isolation to prevent further spread and follow the WA Health ‘What to do if you have COVID-19 or Close Contact’ testing and isolation protocols.

These protocols include modified quarantine arrangements apply to people who are close contacts as defined by WA Public Health.

Refer to COVID-19 Coronavirus: testing and isolation protocols link above  

4. Informing location facility members of outbreak

At all times, privacy laws must be adhered to and personal information, including disclosing the name of the person must not be shared without permission.

If determined that a person did attend the facility during their infectious period, a COVID-19 infection notice with the infection date will be displayed at the entry to the premises.

The notice will not be displayed if the person did not attend the facility during their infectious period.

Refer to Meerilinga Location Outbreak Response Procedure in this process section.

5. Notifications

At all times, privacy laws must be adhered to and person

  • If the confirmed COVID-19 positive case is associated with our licensed Education and Care Service, and it’s determined the case was at location whilst infectious, the CEO or nominated delegate will notify the Department of Communities Education and Care Regulatory Unit (ECRU) within 24 hours of:
    • Confirmed positive case and
    • Temporary closure (only if directed by ECRU on advice from WA Health) and
    • Re-opening after temporary closure

via the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) or call ECRU on 6277 3889.

ECRU will report to WA Health.

* Note: Education and care services (ECS) requiring additional advice must contact ECRU and they will facilitate the provision of relevant health advice from WA Health.

  • Meerilinga is not required to notify non-fatal incidents of COVID-19 to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety, WorkSafe as WA Health are already notified of confirmed cases by medical practitioners.
Facility Management

The location Responsible person in consultation with the nominated Advisor will undertake a situational analysis and make a risk assessment of the facility, where a member of the facility was found to be infectious while on location.

This will be determined on a case by case basis and include:

  • Following the ‘Management of COVID-19 positive case’ response steps.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting of facility – see below guidance

Cleaning and disinfecting guidance

 Cleaning and disinfecting will be carried out in accordance with ‘environmental cleaning’ in Meerilinga’s ongoing infection prevention and control measures.

Refer to Green Alert status and actions.

Specialist cleaning is not required. There is no requirement for a certificate of cleaning and disinfection to be issued for the premises to continue or resume routine operations. Guidance for the management of COVID-19 in the workplace

COVID-19 support for Early Childhood sector

 Australian Government support to the early childhood education and care sector in response to the evolving COVID-19 situation:

Records must be obtained and kept by the service.

Meerilinga Location Outbreak Response Procedure

1. Advisory Services and Place Administrators to remain on call.

2. Meerilinga receives notification of a COVID-19 positive case at one of its locations by the person or guardian of the person who tested positive.

3. CEO or Responsible person at location will immediately notify of ‘Red Alert’ for action.

4. Responsible person will initiate risk management of COVID-19 positive case and in consultation with nominated Advisor to confirm test result and determine Infectious period and possible exposure at location

The ‘COVID-19 Location Positive Case Report’ will be completed for all reported positive cases and specify:

  • Location and Exposure or No exposure
  • Case name, DOB and contact details
  • Date when service notified
  • Date of potential exposure and notifications (if applicable)
  • Monitoring

The ‘COVID-19 Location Positive Case Report’ emailed to Advisor Policy and Compliance to log onto the Meerilinga register of COVID-19 positive cases at location.

Location Responsible Person creates a file on Sharepoint for the individual, where a copy of the ‘COVID-19 Location Positive Case Report’ email and the positive test result image are kept.

5. Notification and actions as directed by the Executive or nominated delegate to:

Responsible Person
Policy and Compliance Advisor WA Public Health Authority
Quality Advisor Education and Care Regulatory Unit (ECRU) via the National Quality Agenda IT System (NQAITS) or call ECRU on 65518333 within 24 hours
Location Responsible Persons * Only applies to potential exposure at location

Infectious disease notice displayed with relevant dates at the entry of facility to notify members.

Marketing Advisor Media and Communications
 

Finance Advisor

 

Cleaning and Disinfecting Services
 

CEO

 

Board, Contract managers and Subcontractors

 

6. Advisor – Service Area – only as directed by the Executive or nominated Delegate

Approved Written Communication to:

Responsible Person Location Members
(only those identified)
Via
CFS & Outreach

Place Administrators

Educators

Location Trainers

SMS  / Text
CFS & Outreach

Place Administrators

ELP Families Smart Central
CFS & Outreach

Place Administrators

Volunteers

External Students

Playgroup Families

Activity and Event Bookings

Email
MTC Lead Administration Officer Students Email
Finance Administration Officer Co-located tenants

Community Facility Hire

Email
Parenting Facilitator SWMPS Partners

Parenting program Facilitators

Parenting Program Participants

Parenting Program Venue

Email
Advisor Community Development Local Government, community agency and partners Email

7. At all times, privacy laws must be adhered to and personal information about individuals must not be shared without permission.

8. Advisors will remain on Alert and standby for further communication from the Executive.

 

 

Associated Documents

Meerilinga Policy Manual

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Staff Wellbeing Policy
  • Preface – Section 1 – Strategic and Business Planning Policies (Code of Ethics & Conduct)

    – Customer Service, Confidentiality and Privacy Policy
    – Risk Management
    – Strategic Management

  • Section 2 – Human Resources Policies

    – Recruitment and Employment
    – Wellness

  • Section 3 – Finance, Assets and Administration Policies

    – Community Use
    – Fees, Charges, Refunds, Deferred Payment and Waiver Policy and Processes.
    – Financial Management
    – Security and Safety

  • Section 5 – Meerilinga Training College

    – Assessment
    – Enrolment
    – Fees, Charges, Refunds, Deferred Payment and Waiver Policy and Processes.
    – Issuing AQF Qualifications
    – Management of Scope
    – Student Placement Work Experience
    – Validation

  • Section 4 – Branding, Image & Reputation

    – Functions and Events
    – Marketing and Advertising
    – Social Media
    – Media

  • Section 6 – Children’s Program Policies

    – Management of Local Services
    – Enrolment and Orientation
    – Delivery and Collection
    – Relationships and partnerships with Families
    – Children’s Experiences, Learning and Evaluation
    – Relationships and Interactions with Children
    – Incident, Injury, Trauma and First Aid
    – Health, Hygiene and Infection Control
    – Toileting and Nappy Change
    – Illness and Infectious Disease
    – Medical Conditions
    – Medications
    – Nutrition and Beverages
    – Child Safe Environment
    – Supervision
    – Excursion and Incursion

  • Section 7 – Workplace Health and Safety Policies

    – Reporting Accidents and Incidents
    – Workplace Health & Safety
    – Use and Storage of Dangerous Products

  • Staying Healthy – Preventing Infectious Diseases in Early Childhood Education and Care Services, 5th Edition.

 

Records Management
Title Location Responsible

Officer

Minimum Retention Period
Risk Assessment and Management Plans CFC

W/Leed

CEO 3 years
Location COVID Safety Plans and Certificate CFC

W/Leed

Nominated Supervisor

Location Responsible Person

3 years
COVID-19 Location Positive Case Report form CFC

W/Leed

Nominated Supervisor

Location Responsible Person

3 years
Communication Templates CFC

W/Leed

Marketing

Nominated Supervisor

Location Responsible Person

3 years
CFC Internal Daily Cleaning Schedule CFC Nominated Supervisor 3 years
Accident, Incident, Near Miss Report CFC

W/Leed

All Employees

Direct Report

3 years
Child Incident Report CFC Nominated Supervisor Until the child is

25 years old

CFC Daily Checklist CFC Nominated Supervisor 3 years
Notification to Regulatory Authority or Health Department CFC

W/Leed

Quality Advisor

CEO

3 years

 

References

Reference

Definitions

 

Term Definition
Isolation Separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
Close Contact Close contact as defined by WA Department of Health

Mapping Policy and Processes

 Education and Care Services National Law  (WA) Act 2012
Section Division 4 – Suspension or cancellation of Service Approval, Division 5 – Application for Service Waiver, Division 6 – Temporary Waiver, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170,171, 172, 173, 174.

 

Education and Care Services National Regulations (WA) 2012
Regulations 12, 35, 40, Division 5 – Service Waiver, Division 6 – Temporary Waiver, 55, 56 73, 77, 78, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 103, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 112, 117A, B, C, 122, 123, 126,  136, Division 9 – Staff and Educator Records, 155, 156, 157, 158, 162, 165, 168, 170, 171, 172, 173, 175, 176, 177, 180, 181, 183, 185.

 

Standards for RTOs 2015
Vocational Education and Training is a significant contributor to Australia’s economy domestically, being the primary mechanism to meet the skilling needs of the Australian community. The standards give the community confidence that RTOs are delivering quality training and assessment that is highly regarded both locally and overseas.

 

Policy Area National Quality Standards Early Childhood National Standards for Volunteering Involvement 2015 Standards to Community Services Standards to Family Support
 

Children’s Programs

QA 1 – 1.1, 1.1.2, 1.1.3, 1.2, 1.2.1,

1.2.2, 1.2.3, 1.3, 1.3.2, 1.3.3

QA 2 – 2.1, 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.1.3, 2.2,

2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.3.

QA 3 – 3.1.2, 3.2.3.

QA 4 – 4.1.1, 4.1.2, 4.2.2.

QA 5 – 5.1.1, 5.1.2, 5.2.1

QA 6 – 6.1, 6.1.2, 6.1.3, 6.2.2.

QA 7 – 7.1, 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.1.3,

7.2, 7.2.1, 7.2.3.

S1, S2, S4, S5, S6, S8 S4, S6, S7, S8, S9, S10, S11 S1, S2, S3, S4, S7, S8, S9, S10, S12, S13

 

View complete Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Management Policy here