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Nod to re-open childcare centres from January 17

Izah Azahari

The Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports (MCYS) yesterday announced Child Care Centres (CCC) will be able to re-operate in stages during the Endemic Phase of the COVID-19 Recovery Framework from January 17.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin made the announcement during a press conference yesterday. The minister said the decision was based on the agreement of the COVID-19 Steering Committee as well as the results from an online survey conducted in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Health (MoH) participated by 11,566 parents nationwide.

“Of the respondents concerned, the MCYS noted that most had agreed on the need for the re-opening of CCCs in January. The re-opening was intended to provide space and opportunities in particular for working parents to send their children for care during working hours,” said the minister. He shared that out of the 11,566 parents, 10,812 or 94 per cent are married, and out of that number, 72 per cent agreed for CCCs to re-open, while only 51 per cent agreed to the re-opening of kindergarten schools.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Awang Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. PHOTO: JAMES KON

The minister said taking into account the parents’ needs and the MoH’s advice in ensuring compliance with the core measures of COVID-19 Control, especially since the vaccination programme for children under five years has not been implemented, the re-opening of CCCs are subject to compliance with key requirements.

The requirements include parents and staff, including support staff, must complete two doses of vaccination and with a green or yellow BruHealth code.

A proof of vaccination confirmation must be shown; ART test screening should be performed once a week for parents and staff including support staff while children should undergo ART testing using saliva swab samples.

Only individuals with negative ART results are allowed to enter the premises while individuals with symptoms and are at high risk are not allowed to enter.

CCC owners must ensure that the premises have adequate ventilation with the installation of Hepa Filter; and premise owners must comply with guidelines issued by the MoH including the wearing of face shield, face mask, gloves and aprons (partial PPE) for employees, wearing a face mask for children aged two and above at all times, social distancing, avoid physical contact, and carry out body temperature checks and ensuring the premises’ cleanliness.

“To ensure the re-opening of the CCC is in line with the conditions and guidelines agreed with the MoH, the Community Development Department (JAPEM) has and continues to inspect and evaluate the premises for approval to operate,” said the minister.

Prior to approval, the minister said CCCs are required to make preparations according to such guidelines and submit a business continuity plan (BCP) to JAPEM.

Permission will only be given to centres found to be ready in accordance with the existing guidelines, while centres that are found not to be ready will be given a period before a re-evaluation is carried out.

“After approval, premises are allowed to re-operate under the First Stage of Phased Opening from January 17 while adhering to the requirements,” said the minister. This includes permission to operate at 30 per cent capacity at a time; centres are only open to children aged two and above; centre activities are only focussed on child care while individual or group development activities are not allowed; and recommended for sessions to be divided into morning and afternoon or by day.

The minister said to date, 1,275 children have been registered in 45 registered CCCs nationwide. Of this number, 20 CCCs were inspected where six were found to be ready and allowed to operate while 14 centres require re-inspection. In addition, 13 centres are scheduled to be inspected within the next two weeks while 12 centres were found to have not submitted their BCPs.

The minister said the inspections are to ensure premises are clean and in orderly condition, and the standard operating procedures (SOPs) processes such as ART tests and locations for body temperature checks are taken into account.

“Spaces should be equipped with adequate ventilation with Hepa Filter installation as these are the requirements demanded of CCC,” he said.

The minister said 100 per cent of caregivers and assistant caregivers at CCCs are fully vaccinated. Thus, the approval is more towards a conducive environment according to the SOPs that have been set.

“The MCYS expresses appreciation to the public for the cooperation in complying with the SOPs and guidelines during the opening of the facilities under the Early Endemic Phase until now,” said the minister.

For information, the public can refer to the guidelines prepared by the MCYS in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office and the MoH by visiting www.kkbs.gov.bn or www.jpm.gov.bn.

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