By Rachel Lawler
A total of 2,707 early childhood facilities reported having had one or more cases of Covid-19 during the week starting November 22.
This is a 38% increase from the week starting November 15, when 1,960 facilities reported one or more positive cases, which in itself was a significant increase from the week of November 8, when 1,403 establishments reported positive cases.
Neil Leitch, CEO of the Alliance, commented: “It is extremely worrying to see such a large increase in reports of Covid-19 cases in contexts in a single week of reporting. This is likely to create enormous fear and anxiety for the early years of work, who cannot socially distance themselves from children in their care or their colleagues, and for owners and managers of establishments who are again faced with loss of income and an increasing staff shortage.
“Early childhood educators have put themselves at risk throughout the pandemic to ensure that young children receive the care and education they need, and that parents can continue to go to work. As early childhood settings are clearly at risk, the government must now, as a priority, seek to put in place additional measures to protect early childhood staff and their families, including the revision of the rules that allow young children living with an HIV-positive person to continue attending their early childhood setting, regardless of the variant they have.
“With Covid rates not expected to drop for some time now, it is also essential that early childhood providers get the financial support they need to ensure they can stay afloat during what will probably be an incredibly difficult time. As such, we urge the government to commit to basing early childhood rights funding on pre-pandemic rather than current attendance levels.
“A strong infrastructure for early childhood is essential for a well-functioning economy and society. The government must therefore do everything possible to protect our critical sector as we enter this final phase of the Covid pandemic.