How do I provide notifications to the Education Standards Board?
Approved providers and services can submit information online through the ACECQA NQA IT System portal. (Registration is required for new users.) Accessing a user portal allows for the submission of applications and notifications to the relevant regulatory authority.
See also ACECQA's 'Notification times and timeframes' page.
If you are experiencing issues with NQA IT Sytem portal submissions, contact the ACECQA help desk on 1300 667 319.
Note: Residual services are unable to log onto the NQA IT System portal. Notification forms and instructions are on our website. Completed notifications should be sent to educationstandardsboard [at] sa.gov.au.
How can we minimise the risk of COVID-19 in our service?
- Wear a mask, wash hands frequently, use sanitiser and social distance.
- Restrict/limit external visitors.
- Increase natural ventilation: open windows and doors.
- Use air-conditioning set on fresh air wherever possible.
- Avoid excursions/incursions.
- Maximise use of the outdoor environment for play/learning and routines.
- Avoid the use of floating staff who work across more than one room.
- Strict enforcement of children not attending if unwell.
What can we do to deal with staff shortages?
Approved providers and service leaders may experience staff shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some strategies to meet educator-to-child ratios:
- Contact recruitment agencies.
- Speak with families and negotiate bookings where possible.
- Use the provision within Regulation 126 (1A): educators employed on a probationary basis (three months) not required to comply with qualification requirements. (Contact registered training organisations and recent school leavers who may have some transferable skills and knowledge for recruitment.)
- Reduce your capacity by capping your numbers/bookings.
- Apply for a waiver under Regulation 126: general educator qualifications if needed.
How can we manage reduced capacity?
We strongly encourage approved providers and service leaders to consider operating on reduced capacity if they are able due to staff shortages - rather than closing the service completely.
This will involve enforcing the service’s priority of access guidelines as required by Department of Education, Skills and Employment and service policy.
Working families outlined in priority 2 are those who meet the definition of ‘essential worker’ in the first instance. See Permissions and restrictions for essential workers: interim guidance.
What is an essential worker?
An essential worker is one of those listed in the Emergency management direction.
Vulnerable children are not specifically defined but may include those known to child protection or where special fee assistance is paid.
If services need advice to determine if a parent is an essential worker or a child is vulnerable, they should contact SA Health or email the Department for Education at EDUCATION [at] sa.gov.au (), keeping in mind they may be dealing with a large number of enquiries.
Note: Only one parent is required to be an essential worker.
How can our service claim gap fee waivers?
Until 30 June 2022, services can waive the gap fee and receive Child Care Subsidy if a child is unable to attend care for one of three reasons:
- They, or a member of their immediate household, must isolate due to COVID-19.
- The service, or a room at the service, is closed due to COVID-19 on written advice from a state or territory government such as a health, education, or regulatory agency.
- The state or territory has restricted access to child care in a region due to COVID-19 (or has restricted school attendance in the case of outside school hours care).
See our alert on this topic for more information.
What support is their from the Australian Government to services affected by COVID-19?
The Australian Government has expanded the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF) to provide greater support to services affected by one or more periods of COVID-19 restrictions.
Eligible COVID-19-affected services may receive a grant (not exceeding $150 000 in a financial year) to help them stay open where they have viability concerns.
See ‘Community Child Care Fund’ on the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
When can a close contact return to the workplace?
Close contacts who test negative on their day 6 test using a PCR test or day 7 using a RAT can return to working with children after they leave isolation (day 8).
The Emergency Management (Exposure Sites, Contacts and Diagnosis Requirements No 3) (COVID-19) Direction 2022 outlines requirements for days 8 to 14 for close contacts once they have left isolation:
- Wear surgical mask when around others at all times.
- Do not attend COVID Management Plan events.
- Do not enter a high-risk setting (unless for the purpose of performing work or duties and the operator of the high-risk setting approves such entry).
- Avoid non-essential activities (e.g. social activities).
- Avoid contact with vulnerable people (young children, elderly, pregnant, people with chronic health conditions) unless it is your essential work.
- Avoid shared spaces and maintain physical distancing.
- Avoid working across worksites
What are the testing, isolating and quarantine requirements for a child or early childhood worker, educator or teacher identified as a classroom contact?
From 31 January 2022, there are new contact tracing and classroom contact arrangements in early childhood education and care centres and schools. This guidance has been provided by the Department for Education, based on SA Health advice. See Testing, isolating and quarantine for preschools and early childhood settings and/or Testing, isolating and quarantine for schools settings (which includes OSHC).
When can a child who is a close contact return to an education and care service?
Close contacts who test negative on their day 6 test using a PCR test or day 7 using a RAT can return to an education and care service after they leave isolation (day 8).
What support is there from SA Health for services that experience a COVID-19 case?
A dedicated Educational Settings COVID Outbreak Team has been created at SA Health to support education and care services. This team will review COVID-19 exposure settings notified by the Education Standards Board.
It is your first point of call for advice about managing COVID-19 and can support you with questions such as isolation or cleaning requirements.
The email address for this team is: Health.EducationalSettingsCOVID-19 [at] sa.gov.au.
How can families find an open service?
ACECQA has a link on its website showing close to real-time data on services that are open or temporarily closed which may assist. See 'Service and temporary closure information'.
What about closing of services?
Services can remain open unless they are directed to close by SA Health or the approved provider decides to close, e.g. because of staff shortages.
If your service is closing during this period, you need to lodge a I01 notification of incidents form via the ACECQA portal (excluding out of scope residual services).
The NQA IT System portal emergency management help guide explains how to lodge the I01 notification of incidents form in step by step detail. The link to the is below.
ESB.EarlyChildhoodServices [at] sa.gov.au () inbox with the following information:
- SE number and service details
- Closure start date and reopen start date (if known)
- Reason for closure – COVID-19
- Name and contact person for the notification.
What cleaning of services is required after a COVID case?
A thorough routine clean with disinfectant is required.
As advised by SA Health, for COVID-19 environmental management and cleaning guidance, see:
- Information about routine environmental cleaning and disinfection in the community, Department of Health
- COVID-19 cleaning information, Safe Work Australia.
What do I do if a staff member had or is having a test?
There is no need to advise the Education Standards Board, but a service can send in a notification if they choose to.
I have a question about Child Care Subsidy (CCS). Who should I contact?
For information regarding Child Care Subsidy (CCS) please contact the info line on 1300 667 276.
Do ECEC and OSHC services staff and/or children attending services need to wear masks?
Wearing of masks inside ECEC and OSHC services is strongly recommended. Some approved providers may mandate the wearing of masks for their sites.
Are ECEC and OSHC services such as childcare centres required to use a QR Code check in? Do ECEC and OSHC services such as a childcare service need to have a COVID management plan?
ECEC and OSHC services are exempt under the Direction for both QR codes and COVID management plans.
Services can generate their own QR code if they wish by completing a voluntary COVID Safe Plan: https://forms.sa.gov.au/#/form/5efc156bad9c5913ec274600/app/60e781bf4d433178e0c20817.
If a child’s parents/caregivers have been directed by SA Health to self-isolate, can their child/ren still attend an ECEC and OSHC service?
These queries should be referred to SA Health.
Likewise, if a child in the family home is deemed a ‘close contact’ and is required to self-isolate - and there was no ability to isolate them from their siblings - would their siblings still be able to attend an ECEC and OSHC service?
These queries should be referred to SA Health.
Do restrictions on limits of people gathering in homes impact on a FDC’s ability to have other educators and children visit their home for an incursion event?
Outside of a lockdown period, but with lower-level restrictions in place, it should be noted that FDC services are not a defined public activity or a private gathering. So the service is exempt from the defined person limit. However, they should be ensuring the following is in place:
- Remind unwell people to stay home.
- All adults who attend the services are to scan the QR code if the service has one or sign a manual contact tracing record form.
- Have hand sanitiser available at the sign-in desk and encourage regular handwashing with soap and water with the children in care.
- Ensure 1.5 m physical distancing between adults at all times.