Hundreds of child care centers have been crippled by Omicron Wave

Hundreds of Australian nurseries devastated by the Omicron outbreak have been forced to close as the struggling sector seeks more financial support.

Australia’s Department of Child Education and Care Quality, a federal authority that oversees the sector, revealed on Thursday that up to 286 centers had temporarily closed doors due to health emergencies.

These numbers are even higher than last Thursday, when 295 centers were temporarily closed in New South Wales, 93 centers were closed in Victoria, and 51 centers were closed in South Australia. increase.

This is after new Senate estimates show that 104 daycare centers were permanently closed during the delta outbreak between July 1st and November 1st, 2021. This is almost once a day.

Early education consultant Lisa Bryant told AAP that COVID-19 is “ripping” the child care center.

She said that the center closed for COVID-19 could be exempt from family gap fees and continue to receive government subsidies, but “it’s not enough money to keep those services running. “.

Under the new rules agreed by the national cabinet last week, closely related educators do not need to isolate whether they are asymptomatic or not.

Epoch Times Photo
Children playing on tree branches at Hyde Park in Sydney, Australia, July 13, 2019. (Jenny Evans / Getty Images)

However, Gabrielle Connell, vice president of the NSW / ACT branch of the Australian Independent Education Union, said the workforce was already burned out and the center was struggling to maintain staff.

He added that this situation is the “worst case” for nurseries, and because some staff are exposed to the virus, nurseries do not know how to protect workers and children.

“People are very afraid,” Connell said. “We have been protecting our family and ourselves for a long time, but suddenly we are thrown under the bus.”

The sector is also looking for a safe supply of free rapid antigen testing (RAT). It states that this is the key to reducing quarantine and preventing center closures.

“Many services rely on rapid antigen testing and require staff to use them if exposed or to have a negative test before returning to work. Of course, they are very scarce. I am doing it. ” CEO of Samantha Page, Australia in Early Childhood.

“Services can’t get them, educators and teachers can’t get them, and PCR testing takes time.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education, Skills and Employment said the federal government has announced about $ 3.2 billion in funding for the infant sector since COVID-19 struck the country, up to $ 150,000 to keep the service open. He said he could use the grant.

They said detailed operational plans for teachers and educators, such as wearing masks and monitoring rapid antigen testing, will be presented at this week’s National Ministerial Conference.

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