Guidance for Covid Safe Return of Playgroups

30 July 2020

We are providing this general, practical guidance for the safe return of playgroups in WA. Phase 4 of the State Government’s easing of restrictions commences on 27 June 2020. As we enter this new phase, the current health advice is that we can continue to reopen and increase capacity of venues and facilities, and increase indoor and outdoor gatherings, while continuing to practise physical distancing and good personal hygiene.

Playgroups can meet and hold events. This is great news! As part of Phase 4, playgroups may still be required to comply with any applicable, updated COVID Safety Plans. 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, with which playgroups will be asked to comply. In this new phase, it continues to be important to check that your landlord 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.

Safety Plans

Whilst playgroups were never specifically closed by the government, community centres were closed down and COVID Safety Plans are part of their requirements for reopening. Local governments and other centre managers may have requirements for community centres in response to their individual centre needs. These requirements may be updated in line with Phase 4.

Some local governments have asked playgroups to complete COVID Safety Plans before they can resume operation. These may need to be updated now, in line with Phase 4. 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 has prepared this document of issues to consider when completing a COVID Safety Plan. Whether you are formally asked for a plan or not, we strongly encourage you to consider the suggestions provided as you assess your individual playgroup operation.

Social Distancing - the following applies from 27 June 2020, as part of Phase 4 of the WA Government’s easing of restrictions
  • Restrictions on the numbers of people allowed at indoor and outdoor gatherings have been lifted. Community gatherings and events are allowed.
  • The 2sqm per person rule still 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.
Hygiene
  • 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.
Communication
  • Whatever arrangements your playgroup decides to implement please remember to communicate them 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.
  • Since people learn in different ways, we encourage you to use a variety of communications including posters at playgroup, emails, websites, social media and be open to ongoing questions from members. There will be a range of opinions and people will be facing different pressures.

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 return to playgroup.

All the best,
Playgroup WA