Poll Results on Covid-19 Cleaning Requirements in Early Childhood Services

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We asked our ECE service newsletter subscribers if they would like to see the requirements for regular cleaning of high touch surfaces etc throughout the day lessened, and why or why not?

  • 64.9% said yes to lessening the cleaning requirements
  • 35.1% said no to this

The poll revealed that many thought the cleaning requirements would not prevent anyone from getting Covid-19, but some thought it was a good practice to be doing anyway for general health, and should be maintained.  

This gives food for thought in regard to the review of the licensing criteria and the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008 that the Ministry of Education currently has underway. The Ministry of Education would be remiss not to consider the potential benefits for child and adult health of maintaining a higher frequency and breadth of cleaning than was required before Covid-19.

Concerns included that it was time-consuming and that it took staff time away from children. Now we know of these two problems, service owners and the Ministry of Education should quickly look at implementing solutions. Solutions could include that a cleaner/s must be used and not teaching staff, or the regular cleaning of high touch surfaces etc during the day is made the responsibility of only unqualified teaching assistants who are extras to the minimum required adult-child ratio.

Additionally reports of it being easy to do at some service and exhausting at others suggests variation in either the extent or the quality of cleaning between services.  Or it may just come down to differences in how much equipment, toys, and furniture services have. 

Examples of comments:

  • Seems a nonsense when we have a limited the number of children and they are there all day long. If they infect a surface in the morning then by logic, they will do the same in the afternoon and any other child/ adult they touch. How will this lesson infection?
  • As COVID is known to be an airborne virus, it seems redundant to continually be wiping high touch surfaces when if it’s in the doors it’s in. Cleaning the top of the cupboards and the light switches isn’t going to stop you from getting it.
  • Our usual cleaning expectations are more than adequate, particularly with no parents staying other than drop offs and collections, and minimum visitors – only Speech Language Therapist when needed for example, who is fully vaccinated.
  • Professional clean by professional cleaners in the evening should be enough, there just needs to be guidelines for these evening cleans for professional cleaners to follow (e.g., table legs etc.).
  • I would like to see the bleach requirement removed during the day and just let us spray with our usual disinfectant during the day. Happy to keep up the high touch surfaces without bleach and just bleach at the end of the day.

Selected examples of comments concerning the value of maintaining the cleaning requirements:

  • The regular cleaning of high touch surfaces should absolutely be a ‘given’ in keeping little hands clean and healthy.
  • It is a good thing in general to have this habit – it reduces all sorts of cross infection.
  • We want our children and staff to be safe.
  • High touch surfaces should still be cleaned regularly to protect staff. Vaccination does not provide full protection.
  • Surfaces need to be clean so that the children do not get sick.

Selected comments about the time that it took to meet the cleaning requirements and why this was, or was not, a problem:

  • This is done relatively quickly and is important for tables and bathrooms to be clean and sanitised.
  • I think regardless of Covid its best practice and spraying surfaces doesn’t take long.
  • It is exhausting and takes up a lot of time.
  • There is not the time to do it.
  • It is time consuming and takes focus away from the children.
  • It takes so much time away from interacting with children.

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