Childcare centres to remain closed for now

Picture from The Star

By John Isaac

CHILDCARE centres are not expected to open for about another month as operators have to undertake a series of stringent precautionary measures before they can resume operations.

Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia president Anisa Ahmad said the government had set strict standard operating procedure (SOP) for them, so they needed time to comply.

“It’s not possible to open on Monday or even next week, ” she said.

She explained that some of the operators were back in their hometowns and when they return to work, they have to self-quarantine for 14 days before reopening their childcare centres.

“We have to clean and disinfect our premises as well as get approval from the Health Ministry before reopening, and that will certainly take time.

“We also need to consider the zones that the childcare centres are in, whether it’s in a green, yellow, orange or red zone. We can’t simply reopen, ” said Anisa as reported in The Star.

Due to the SOP, Anisa estimated that childcare centres would only most likely reopen after a month.

Even when these childcare centres were running again, she said they would not be able to admit all children as per normal before the movement control order (MCO).

“This is because social distancing measures among children are part of the SOP discussed, ” Anisa said, adding that this would be practised especially during nap and mealtimes.

“We have to reduce the number of children if we want to practise social distancing.

“So our target is to perhaps have only 50% of the normal headcount, for example having only 20 kids instead of the usual 40.

“We will prioritise the children of frontliners and kids whose both parents have to return to work, ” she said.

She said in the new normal for childcare centres, a health declaration form would have to be filled up by parents and operators before the centres could run.

Parents are also advised to check their children’s body temperature at home and ensure they do not have any flu-like symptoms prior to sending them to the centres.

“Any staff member or kid with a temperature of above 37.5°C will not be allowed to enter the premises, ” she said.

According to the SOP announced by the National Security Council, childcare centres must carry out disinfection at least twice daily.

Operators are required to provide hand sanitisers and use face masks at all times.

They are also advised to inform parents or caretakers to bathe their children after returning home and to avoid direct contact with senior citizens at home.

Anisa said there had been many enquiries from parents about the reopening, but the centres could not do anything for now as they had to follow the SOP.

“We advise parents to find alternative arrangements for the time being, ” she added.

Accountant Syakirah Hamid, 31, said she would not send her two children to childcare centres even if they reopened within the conditional MCO period.

Syakirah, who is working from home until after the MCO, said she was worried after her children caught the hand, foot and mouth disease from their friends at a centre.

Travel agent CF Lim, 30, will also not be sending his son to the childcare centre for now.“My wife is working in essential services, so she has been going out to the office as usual. As for me, the work-from-home directive is still in effect and I’ve been put on unpaid leave from May.

“So while I’m still home, I will not be sending my son, ” he said.