Over 12 000 ECD centres have applied to reopen – social development dept

The department says ECDs are able to open immediately provided that they are complying with regulations outlined to them.

At least 12 345 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) have, to date, completed the Department of Social Development’s online self-assessment to operate under Level 3 lockdown, its spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, has said.

This week, Oliphant told News24 centres, which were compliant and safe, were able to reopen as per a High Court ruling in July.

“ECDs were able to open immediately provided that they are complying with what we have put out for them. There are about 12 345 ECDs that have completed the self-assessment form.”

She added once they had completed the assessment and been given the green light “they can open immediately”.

News24 previously reported the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled all private preschools and ECDs should reopen, provided they were safe.

Judge Hans Fabricius said the decision by the department to have private nursery schools closed under Level 3 was unconstitutional.

The case had been brought by trade union Solidarity’s Occupational Guild for Social Workers and its School Support Centre (SCC) against the department.

The self-assessment form is free and accessible through the department’s website. It can also be accessed at its offices and service points where centres operate.

NPO assists centres with safety

NPO Zero2Five Trust has moved to supply 150 ECD supervisors with PPE to ensure they were equipped to reopen.

In a statement earlier this week, the NPO said there was a long list of resources required before centres could reopen, including PPE amounting to not less than R 3000 per centre.

It added many ECD supervisors across the country were facing temporary and permanent closures due to this.

“It comes without saying that current finances in the widely informal ECD sector do not allow the purchase of the long PPE list necessary to ensure a safe environment for children and caretakers alike.

“Kloof-based Zero2Five has over 400 such unfunded ECD centres throughout KwaZulu-Natal on its nutrition, play and education programmes, none of which receive any form of government support during this Covid-19 lockdown.”

The NPO said it had asked its regular donors and supporters for help and started a “PPE for ECD” campaign, which resulted in PPE being sourced and funds raised in the last two months to safely allow for the reopening of 150 ECDs as of 3 August.

Response

“We had a great response as everyone by now has an idea of how expensive all these hygiene products are,” Zero2Five CEO Julika Falconer said.

Various partners of the organisation also came to the party, donating items ranging from sanitisers, masks and cleaning products.

Falconer said Illovo Africa also made a massive contribution by printing and laminating Covid-19 information material in isiZulu and isiXhosa for 200 centres as well as brochures for children to take home.

“Each ECD centre received 1x5l 70% alcohol sanitiser concentrate, 1×5 l dishwashing liquid, 1 spray bottle, 1 roll with 100 multi-purpose cloths, one garage roll hand towels, 60 bars of soap, four masks per teacher, two cloth masks per child [to remain at school], two laminated Covid-19 posters per centre, Covid-19 flyers and brochures for all parents, self-assessment forms and registers for all centres.”

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