Reopening ECIs – Protocols for Children and Families

Picture source: http://www.news-star.com/news/

Today’s blog is a continuation of a series of blogs to share the protocols for the reopening of ECIs. The protocols are outlined in the Reopening Early Childhood Institutions For Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document which can be accessed from the ECC’s website. 

Protocols for Children and Families

  • If parents/family members in the child’s household are sick or have been in close contact with someone who has been exposed to COVID, the ECI should be notified and the children should remain at home.
  • All children should have a medical certificate of good health before entry to school, as is required by ECC Standards. This should be documented in the Child Health and Development Passport or by a letter from a doctor.
    • All children with chronic illnesses, such as asthma, sinusitis, allergies and other flu like illnesses, should have these documented in their Child Health and Development Passport or by a letter from a doctor and confirm that these symptoms are not Covid-19 related.
    • All children with other chronic illnesses such as kidney disease, heart conditions, other chronic conditions and those who have had cancer treatment completed should have this documented in their Child Health and Development Passport or by a letter from a doctor, and there should be an indication that they are able to attend school.
  • Temperature checks should be conducted upon entry to the ECI. ECIs should use a touchless thermometer if one is available. Temperatures that are above 100.4F are considered a fever.
    • If touchless a thermometer is not available, parents should check their children’s temperature at home and report it to the school on arrival.
    • Children’s temperature should be recorded in a daily log by the ECI.
  • ECIs should conduct Health Screening of children for symptoms (coughing, fever, shortness of breath, etc.) by enquiry of parents, and observation of each child for signs of infection such as flushed cheeks, fatigue, or extreme fussiness. The screening should enquire of illness of adults at home.
    • Child symptoms should be recorded and kept in a daily log.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children 2 years and under. There should be mandatory wearing of masks for parents/guardians on school property.
  • Hands must be washed and sanitized frequently, including but not limited to:
    • Upon arrival for the day
    • After toileting/diaper change
    • After contact with bodily fluids
    • After returning inside after outdoor play
    • After handling pets, pet cages or other pet objects that have come in contact with the pet before moving on to another activity
    • Before and after eating
    • When visibly soiled (must use soap and water)
    • Before departure from the school or home
  • All bags and lunch kits are to be stored in designated lockers/shelves
  • Children should be taught fun and engaging daily hygiene lessons, including:       
    • How to properly wash hands
    • How to cough or sneeze into the elbow or a tissue and then throwing it into a closed bin
    • How to sanitizing immediately after coughing or sneezing
    • Avoiding touching mouth, eyes and nose
    • Avoiding touching other children and their belongings

We continue to encourage the public get regular updates from the MOHW at https://www.moh.gov.jm/ and from the ECC at https://ecc.gov.jm/ for relevant information on ECD, including the full Reopening Early Childhood Institutions for Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document.


Reopening of ECIs

Picture source: www.wjhg.com

At the ECC, we want to assure our children, parents, caregivers, practitioners, and the general public that the safety of everyone at early childhood institutions matters. The COVID-19 protocols for the reopening of early childhood institutions (ECIs) have been developed and will be implemented in all ECIs.

Over the coming months, we will be outlining the protocols from the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Early Childhood Commission in a series of blogs so that the public is aware of what is required of your child’s institutions as they reopen for the new school year. In this blog, we will cover some of the mandatory protocols for ECI workers.

  • ECI staff members should stay home if they become ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill
  • Staff members should complete a standardized symptom and COVID-19 exposure interview before returning to work
  • Exposure interview conducted with staff before they return to work should assess the risk at their homes
  • ECIs should text and email new work protocols to all employees before they return to work
  • ECIs are to host face-to-face sensitization/orientation of new protocols before the ECIs resume services, discuss protocols and implementation at regular staff meetings at least once per month
  • ECIs should ensure:
    • All staff are aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children
    • All staff are trained in Universal Precautions (managing body fluids) as required by the ECC Standards
    • All staff are familiar with the ECI Sanitization Plan required by the ECC; Sanitization Plans must be updated to include COVID-19 sanitation requirements
    • Sanitation Plan should include a regular cleaning schedule for indoor and outdoor furnishings, equipment, and learning resources, and adequate procedures for soap, hand sanitizers and cleaning agents
    • ECI Health Plan should be updated to include exclusion from school for staff/students for COVID-19 related symptoms

We advise parents to continue checking the for updates from the Ministry of Health and Wellness website https://www.moh.gov.jm/ on the status of COVID-19 in Jamaica and to check the ECC’s website https://ecc.gov.jm/  for updated information on ECIs.

Connect Positivity…Think!

Picture Source: thehindu.com

I recently had the pleasure of looking up to the sky and seeing not one, not two, not three but eight kites flying! I was immediately a child again, marvelling at all the beautiful kites flying in the clear blue sky. I have such fond memories from childhood of kite season, around April and May, when the neighbourhood children were busy designing and creating their kites. I remember the excitement I felt watching my brother and his friends fly their kites, comparing whose kite was bigger and prettier and whose kite could fly the highest. So, you can imagine my delight that day when I saw eight kites flying high in the sky. Of course, this delight was at the beauty of the kites but also, seeing the kites was in and of itself a great thing.


Not to sound like an oldie but goodie, but kite sightings have been rare in recent years. Think about it, when was the last time you saw kites flying? And how many did you see?


Those kites in the sky signalled to me that in this pandemic, our children were still playing. And that, they were also engaged in executive planning in the creation and design of these kites. I also would like to think that some of them got help from the adults in the family with sourcing materials, help to design and strategies on how to successfully mount their kites. They also probably needed permission to go to the ball field or go on the housetop to fly their kites. One thing for certain though, is that the flying kites represent something bigger: our children are connecting to positivity. If these kites are flying in Kingston, there are probably more kites flying all over the country.

Picture Source: jamaica-gleaner.com


Kite flying is a past time that is fun, interactive, involves learning and achieving a number of skills. This is also true for many games and play activities that children and parents are engaged in this crisis. During the recent curfews, I regularly heard the familiar sound of dice on a Ludi board and Dominoes being slammed on tables in my neighbourhood. Like the children flying kites, families were connecting to positivity during the restrictions with games at home, drawing on old but familiar ways of enjoying family time and the lockdown.


While we do not need an outbreak of COVID-19 to remind us that we need to invest in more positive interactions with our families and children, being together at home has given us extra time to increase those positive interactions. The outbreak has removed some of the trappings of modern life, like, time spent commuting to and being at work, doing school runs and using the weekends to catch up on chores, to allow us to connect and increase our positive interactions.


We know from research the importance of positive and responsive interaction to children’s development. We see it in our own lives that positive interactions in childhood have had a meaningful impact on us. Positive interactions like playtime, reading together, talking, cuddles, warmth and understanding are ingredients for optimum child development. Parents engaging in positive activities like playing games at home, talking and reading together will help our children during this time of crisis and also increase their resilience for whatever else the future might hold.


As we continue to celebrate our children during Child’s Month, let us think about all the different ways we can connect positivity in our daily lives!

Using Play to Support Your Child with Autism

Autism month continues here on the ECC’s Blog!

With schools closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many parents are now supporting their children’s learning with home-schooling activities. This is no different for parents whose children are on the autism spectrum. While we understand the challenges some parents of typically developing children are now facing with working from home and home-schooling their children at the same time. Parents of children with atypical development, such as children with autism, might be experiencing an especially challenging time. One way to deal with the challenges is to incorporate play in your daily routine with your children.

Picture source: pexels.com

Why is Play so Important?

Play is an important aspect of your child’s development and should be incorporated into learning activities because play makes learning fun! Through play, children learn about themselves, others and the world around them.[1] Play helps children develop important skills that they will need in life, such skills are, academic, social, thinking, communication, resolving conflicts and problem-solving skills.[2]

Children with autism benefit from play like other children. Incorporating play in everyday activities can help your child with autism develop important skills. Because children with autism do not have typical development like their peers, they sometimes need more guidance to learn new skills and play offers that opportunity to parents. Through play, parents can learn with their children, understand their children better and know the best ways to support their children’s development.

Tips for Play with Children with Autism

Get Involved

Structured or guided play is a great way to support your child with autism. Structured play is when adults guide the play activities for children. They become involved by providing the rules of play, providing resources for play and letting children know when play starts and ends.[3] Although adults are involved in play, they should be careful to guide play but not take it over. This means that, as you plan structured play with your child, you should let your child’s interests and passions guide your plans for the play activity.

Involve Activities that Promote Social Skills

Autism is a disorder that affects social skills. Social skills are the rules and abilities that guide our daily social interactions.[4] Humans are social beings, which means, we come into this world pre-wired for social interaction. During our development, our relationships and interactions with the people in our lives teach us how to behave and respond in a variety of social settings. This learning is based on experience and some social rules are taught to us directly, like, how to behave in public or at a formal gathering. Social rules learnt through experience usually involve our ability to read body language, facial expression, recognise and understand emotions. Most people have the ability to “pick up” social cues from interactions[5], however, children with autism do not have this natural ability and need to be taught directly. Combining guided play with activities to promote social skills could be beneficial to your child with autism.

Some examples of these play activities are:

  • Games that involve turn-taking – parents can play games of back-and-forth that teach turning-taking with toy cars, trucks, balls, etc.
  • Games to teach children to recognise emotions – parents can do art with their children by drawing or painting faces with different emotions. During these activities, parents can talk to their children about the various emotions, what situations can bring about these emotions and how to appropriately express them.
  • Games that re-create certain social situations – walking your child through various situations they may encounter outside the family setting is a great way to help your child develop his or her social skills. Parents can create play activities that focus on different scenarios like meeting someone for the first time, asking a friend at school to play, etc. Getting siblings and other family members on board with these play activities not only enhances the fun but it extends the number of people your child can interact with, which is similar to the real-life social situations they may face outside the home.

The suggestions above are not limited but they can be a starting point for parents who are looking for creative ways to support their children with autism. It is key to remember that play is at the foundation of these activities, so, they should be fun for both you and your children. Also, let your children with autism guide how you structure these play activities by getting to know their interests and passions.


[1] https://pathways.org/topics-of-development/play/

[2] https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_power_of_play_part_1_stages_of_play

[3] https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/school-play-work/play-learning/structured-play-asd

[4] https://www.autismspeaks.org/social-skills-and-autism

[5] https://www.autismspeaks.org/social-skills-and-autism

Activities to do during COVID-19 School Shutdown

As we enter another week of schools being closed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and with children at home, parents are being encourage to continue to support their children’s learning and development. We are here to help! Below is a schedule of activities that parents can do at home with their young ones. Remember, it’s all about making learning fun through play!

March 2020 Activities

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
1234567
       
891011121314
       
15161718192021
Read to your child daily: Tell a story or read a bookWhen outside, listen and identify the sounds you hearSing favourite children’s songs to your child Peekaboo (Where is it?)- place toy under a blanket for baby to findStacking- provide child with plastic containers from the kitchen to stack   countMusic & Movement- dance with your childRead to your child daily: Tell a story or read a book
22232425262728
Read to your child daily: Tell a story or read a bookPouring- provide plastic cups for older children to practice pouringName it- before diaper changing name and point to body partsTunnel Play- create a tunnel using sturdy boxes for children to crawlUsing your phone, show family pictures for children to identify personsTextures- have children help with folding clothes and talk about texturesRead to your child daily: Tell a story or read a book
293031
Read to your child daily: Tell a story or read a bookSponge Play- give child a water filled sponge to squeeze. Repeat.Community Walk- talk about what you see, name the colours and count    

For more information on activities to do at home, please visit our COVID-19 Corner at https://ecc.gov.jm/covid-19-corner/