“This we have been exploring with a consciousness about the health, wellbeing, and care of the children uppermost in our minds,” she said. Ms. Browne stated that the unit is “mindful of the request of parents for suitable early childhood care for their children so that they can resume work fully. We are also sensitive to the requests and economic challenges that have been experienced by the proprietors of private Early Childhood Day Care Facilities.”
She stated that prior to the closure of all learning institutions in March 2020, 85 percent of the workers in the Early Childhood Sector were sensitized to COVID-19 and its impact on life and work.
“The impact of COVID-19 on education in general and early childhood in particular remains uppermost in the discourse and planning of education officials,” she said.
The Director noted that the matter of reopening Early Childhood Centres has been explored numerous times and in different settings within the Ministry of Education.
“The most recent explorations have been within the last week,” she said. “A consultative meeting was held with the Minister of Education, Senior Officials of the Ministry of Education in St. Kitts and Nevis, the National COVID-19 Task Force and representatives from the Early Childhood Development Unit. During this meeting various concerns were shared from the position of public and private Day Care Childcare Service Providers.”
Ms. Browne stated that the members of the COVID-19 Task Force outlined the various concerns regarding limiting the possible spread of COVID-19 within Early Childhood Facilities.
“They also outlined standards that are to be met for Early Childhood Centres to be deemed suitable for reopening,” she said.
It was noted that the Ministry of Education, specifically the early Childhood Development Unit embraced the recommendations of the National Task Force and committed to taking the necessary steps towards educating proprietors and supervisors of Early Childhood Care Facilities of the necessities for securing compliance and subsequent approval for reopening.
Ms. Browne stated that the Unit took note of the suggestions of the National COVID-19 Task Force when it advised that the reopening of the Early Childhood Sector will be on a case by case basis. The proprietors of each facility would have to apply through the Early Childhood Development Unit to start the process and work towards being approved for reopening.
In addition, proprietors and supervisors of nurseries and preschools are asked to contact the Early Childhood Development Unit at 466-2810 for guidance on the application process for the review of their facilities in light of the COVID-19 safety requirements.
Also, once an Early Childhood Facility has been checked and determined to be compliant with the new safety and health protocols for the Early Childhood Sector then that nursery or centre would be able to secure approval for reopening.
As a consequence of that meeting with the COVID-19 Task Force, a follow-up meeting was held with key ministry officials to work towards concretizing the recommendations made by the COVID-19 Task Force in the request to reopen the Early Childhood Sector.
“We are well on our way in laying the foundation that can be of assistance to all our partners in the delivery of early childhood,” said Director Browne.