All ECCD centers to reopen between February and March but with conditions

As per the government directives, all the Early Childhood Care and Development Centers (ECCD) in the country are to reopen between February and March 2021. The education ministry has assessed how ECCD centers will reopen and measures has been put in place to ensure centers are adequately prepared to adapt to new norms and procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children, families and staff of the centers.

The ministry has looked at potential risks and measures taken for the mitigation of risks for ECCD centers in different risk zones.

The ministry has already sensitized and advocated on preventive measures.

There are 88 ECCD centers that fall in the high risk zone. The centers should reopen with safety and precautionary arrangements recommended by Emergency Committees, LG leaders and parents

In the medium risk and high risk areas, reopening of ECCDs are based on the recommendation of LG leaders and parents.

There are 300 ECCDs in the low risk areas.

The ministry says that even as the assessment indicates that it may not be entirely safe to reopen ECCD centers amidst unrelenting spread of the pandemic worldwide, reopening has to be initiated given that there are far more benefits than risks for children, particularly considering that local transmissions could be contained if protocols recommended by the Health Ministry are observed strictly.

Hence, the ministry said reopening of ECCD centers is important for all children, regardless of their geographical location or socio-economic background.

Facilitators and staff members of all the centers should be oriented on health and safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. They must have one toilet, functional hand washing tap for every group of 10 children. Centers must not have more than 10 children in any room/ class, so as to ensure adequate space for social distancing as far as possible.

ECCD classrooms must have adequate space to practice social distancing of at least 1.5 meters. Where ECCD centers do not meet this requirement, arrangements for expansion of space or measures to reduce the number of children must be put in place and additional facilitators must be recruited to ensure that there is a minimum of one facilitator for every group of 10 children.

ECCD centers must acquire and use thermal guns to screen the temperature of children, staff and visitors. A must have Druk trace QR code.

There should be a communication, coordination and collaboration between families and ECCD centers for safe and effective operation of centers and safety of children as families play an equally important role in ensuring safe and healthy practices.

Proprietor of Happy Feet ECCD in Thimphu said, currently they are taking in new admissions and probably they will reopen after a week or two. She said according to the number of admissions, the centers will recruit additional facilitators.

As compared to last year, more parents are coming forward for the admission of their children. The parents are worried that their children are left ideal at home and that they want to enroll their children to ECCD.

Hejo ECCD in Thimphu announced it will only open in March as the safety of everyone is their main concern. The ECCD said this delay will allow it to observe how regular schools are doing and if everything goes smoothly for them then it will give the center more confidence to keep everyone healthy and safe this year.

Private ECCD centers in Thimphu are taking in new admission. Most of the centers will be opened by Mid-February and few will be opening by March this year.

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