Thursday, 9 September 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Early Childhood Care and Education
766. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if the Covid-19 guidelines for early childhood settings have required children to use single-use items which must be disposed of as waste each day; and if the use of plastic disposable items has been suggested in circumstances in which there would be a clear conflict with the ban on single-use items. [42337/21]
770. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if his Department has issued advice to the pre-school sector in relation to protocols to be followed in the coming months during the Covid-19 pandemic; if it is the case that only disposable ziplock bags and plastic bottles are to be used by children which should be disposed of every day; if he considers these practices to be environmentally friendly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42387/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 766 and 770 together.
Expert guidance on the safe operation of Early Learning and Care (ELC) and School Age Childcare (SAC) services during the COVID-19 pandemic was published by the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) in May 2020 and has been updated on a number of occasions since then, most recently on 30 August 2021. The guidance is available at www.hpsc.ie/a-z/lifestages/childcare/.
In line with normal infection prevention and control practice in ELC and SAC services, the HPSC guidance sets out that 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).
The HPSC has also 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 who is waiting to be collected by a parent.
In addition to the expert guidance from the HPSC, my Department has provided a range of online resources and guidance to support service providers, practitioners and parents. These resources are available at .
The guidance provided by the HPSC does not include any advice on the use of disposable ziplock bags and plastic bottles and my Department has not issued any guidance recommending the use of ziplock bags and plastic bottles.