Written answers

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Childcare Services

Photo of Jennifer WhitmoreJennifer Whitmore (Wicklow, Social Democrats)
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747. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if HSE guidelines for the reopening of childcare facilities from 29 June 2020 prevents parents visiting those childcare settings prior to the reopening on 29 June 2020; if he will allow parents to inspect the new arrangements of childcare facilities due to health and safety protocols implemented by the provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13569/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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The public health guidance which was published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre on 29 May is based on two key principles:

- That services should take steps to ensure individuals with symptoms do not enter the

- service, and

- That services should take steps to reduce the chance of spread of the virus in case an

- infectious person, without symptoms, enters the building.

With these principles in mind, services should seek to restrict any unnecessary visitors to the

service. Where a service considers it necessary for a parent or guardian to enter the service, e.g. to

help settle in a new child, social distancing between the parent/guardian and other adults

should be observed as far as possible.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommends the use of cloth face coverings in enclosed indoor settings where it is not possible to keep a distance of 2 metres from others. While it is generally not appropriate for childcare workers to apply this when caring for children or when engaging with parents in the presence of their children, the NPHET recommendation on use of masks is applicable for interaction between adults in childcare settings when not caring for children.

Paul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein)
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748. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if childcare staff can be forced by their employer not to wear a mask when they return to their place of employment on 29 June 2020. [13575/20]

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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753. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if guidelines have been issued to providers for staff wearing masks when childcare facilities reopen. [12878/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 748 and 753 together.

The guidance issued by my Department to providers of early learning and care and school-age childcare is based on the advice that the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has published specifically for childcare settings. The HPSC advice is that additional PPE, over and above normal requirements for childcare services, is not required to be used by childcare practitioners while they are caring for children.

As per normal practice in early learning and care services, staff should wear disposable single-use plastic aprons, and non-powdered, non-permeable gloves when there is a risk of coming into contact with body fluids (such as when nappy changing). Supplies of these should be readily available in services.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommends the use of cloth face coverings in enclosed indoor settings where it is not possible to keep a distance of 2 metres from others. The HPSC has advised that it is generally not appropriate for childcare workers to apply this when caring for children or while engaging with parents in the presence of their children, but the NPHET recommendation on use of masks is applicable for interaction between adults in childcare settings when not caring for children.

The HPSC has advised that services should keep a small supply of surgical masks in a readily accessible place for use by a staff member who develops symptoms of COVID-19 or by staff members caring for a sick child if they feel they need to use them.

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