Guidance for Covid Safe Return of Playgroups
17 February 2021
The WA Government announced the return to pre-lockdown life from 12.01am on Sunday, 14 February 2021.
We are providing this general, practical guidance for the safe return/operation of playgroups in WA. Phase 4 of the State Government’s easing of restrictions commenced on 27 June 2020. Since then we have had a lockdown in the Perth, Peel and South West regions. As of 14 February 2021, this returned to pre-lockdown, Phase 4 requirements. What are these requirements for playgroups?
In a nutshell, playgroups can open and hold events*, following capacity rules and mandatory contact registration, while continuing to practise physical distancing and good personal hygiene. You may also need to comply with a COVID Safety Plan.
It is important to note that the Government requires mandatory contact registers for venues. Please read more about what is required for these registers and how to register your playgroup here.
*Public or private events involving more than 500 patrons that requires local government authority approval will need an approved COVID Event Plan as part of that process.
Playgroups may need to comply with a COVID Safety Plan, if this has been required of their venue. We have more information on this below. Also, the 2sqm per person rule continues to apply to playgroups.
Playgroups meet in a variety of venues, some shared with other groups, some managing their own building. Venue owners such as local governments and churches may have their own requirements or COVID Safety Plans, with which playgroups will be asked to comply. Please check that your landlord, centre manager or host agency is comfortable with what you are doing.
Playgroup WA is also available to provide specific advice to individual playgroups. We know that many of you have already developed your solutions and have great faith in the creativity and common sense of the playgroup community.
Local governments and other centre managers may have requirements for community centres to follow COVID Safety Plans based on their individual centre needs.
Some local governments have asked playgroups to complete COVID Safety Plans. The Government’s Phase 4 COVID Safety Plan and Guidelines are available here. This information is useful for all playgroups, even if you do not need to complete a Safety Plan.
Playgroup WA prepared this document of issues to consider if completing a COVID Safety Plan. Whether you are formally asked for a plan or not, we encourage you to consider the suggestions provided as you assess your individual playgroup operation.
- Community gatherings and events* are allowed.
- The 2sqm per person rule applies to playgroups.
- Western Australians must continue to keep up with social distancing where possible and maintain good personal hygiene to better protect themselves and the general health of our community.
- Hand washing – especially before and after handling/preparing food, playdough etc. With playdough consider discarding after each session, and washing hands before and after use.
- Display posters on hand washing and good hygiene practices. Playgroup WA has produced two posters for you to print and display, one on hand washing and one on good hygiene practices.
- Wipe over toys where possible after use – especially toys that are put in mouths by young children – antibacterial wipes are a good way to do this before toys are put away. When purchasing cleaning products and sanitizers we recommend that you check these are suitable for children at your playgroup. We suggest putting fewer toys out and limiting toys that may be difficult to clean, such as small items, to make cleaning more manageable.
- Ensure work surfaces such as kitchen benches are wiped over and cleaned – use different cloths for different surfaces – you may want to consider purchasing some different colour cloths to make this easier and make sure families know the system (putting up a sign will help).
- Remember to wipe over doorknobs and bathroom fittings and other items you may not be used to cleaning. These are high contact points.
- Ensure that tissues are placed in a bin immediately after use.
- Ensure that you have adequate supplies of soap, paper towels, tissues etc
- Ask parents to bring their own water bottles and food to minimise kitchen use and shared eating.
- Playgroups running multiple sessions may have to consider making sessions shorter to enable cleaning and for rooms to be checked before entry.
- Please remember to communicate your playgroup's arrangements clearly to all members, so they know what to expect and what is expected of them.
- Everyone should be reminded not to attend if they are ill and asked to leave if they show signs of illness.
- It may sound obvious, but we encourage you to explicitly tell families that they should advise you if they have any possibility of being exposed to the virus or have undergone testing.
- Accurate attendance registers will be critical to helping with contact tracing. Note the Government's mandatory contact register requirements, referred to above.
- It is helpful to use a variety of communication methods such as posters, emails, website/social media and be open to questions from your members.
- For those playgroups that are closed, it is great to stay in touch with your members. We also have the Playgroup at Home WA Facebook group which all members and friends are welcome to join.
This guidance is current at time of publication. We will provide updates as circumstances continue to evolve. We wish all our playgroup families a safe, healthy and fun time at playgroup.
All the best,