The YMCA Canberra Critical Emergency Alert System is now activated. This system has been setup to keep all families, staff and community members up to date on the opening and closure status of Y Canberra services. To follow live updates click on the button below and subscribe to the feed. If you are already using our services you will be subscribed to receiving email and/or SMS alerts as they impact you e.g. your child visits one of our Early Learning Centres, Out of School Hours Care or you use our health and fitness services.
How is the Y monitoring the risk of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
YMCA Canberra (the Y) is continuing to monitor the situation and is following ACT Health for notifications and procedures. As the spread of infections has rapidly increased in recent days, Government decisions to impose further exclusions is changing on less than a daily basis so we may be required to act on this direction quickly but we are committed to making timely decisions as soon as this information is made available from the Federal and ACT government. This is why we encourage people who need the latest information from the Y, to subscribe to the Y Canberra Critical Emergency Alert System as the most current information as we receive it will be available on this page.
Where you can access the latest government advice?
Travelers: Everyone entering Australia from overseas must self-quarantine or self isolate themselves at home for 14 days. Upon their return they need to monitor themselves for symptoms of Coronavirus, such as fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath. If they develop symptoms, they need to follow the steps described in the ACT Health Getting Tested page.
Contact: Everyone who has been in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with Coronavirus, must be quarantined at home for 14 days after their last contact with that person.
Feeling unwell: Everyone who feels unwell with symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and shortness of breath should stay at home.
New indoor and outdoor gathering restrictions announced yesterday do not apply to schools, OSHC and ELCs, however social distancing and hygiene practices do.
Y Canberra has implemented social distancing and improved hygiene practices at all sites since January, and as the advice has changed from ACT Health, Australian Government Department of Health and ACT Education we have adapted our practices accordingly.
The current fact sheets published 23 March from ACT Education for ELC and OSHC which explain the current advice for social distancing and hygiene are available here.
Some practical examples of how we have adapted our practices include:
All sites – increased hand sanitiser at all sites, increased disinfectant of touch points, increased hand washing for staff and children and limitations on people entering sites and moving between rooms
ELCs – children eating in their rooms rather than in the communal dining room, staff walking children out to parent’s cars where the parent is not well, cancellation of all incursions and excursions, extra time outside
OSHC – updates to menus to reduce sharing food, increased food hygiene measures and eating outdoors with more space between children where possible, talking about handwashing techniques and utilizing child friendly signs as well as spending as much time outdoors as possible.
Fees and CCS
The Government is making regular announcements about how they are supporting families and providers through this difficult time. The current fact sheet published 20 March from Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment is available here. Announced changes not reflected in this fact sheet are available here and include:
Increased number of days that a family can continue to claim the Child Care Subsidy in cases where a child is absent from child care for more than the currently allowable 42 days;
Families can access additional absences, without the need for evidence, in relation to Coronavirus; and
Current obligations waived for child care services to require a family to pay gap fees if the service is forced to close.
Due to ACT schools being officially open, the Y Canberra is required to operate as business as usual. As such, Y Canberra policy requires a 2-week notification period for cancellation of bookings, which is consistent for most providers of OSHC and ELC in Canberra and more broadly Australia. This helps ensure staff job security and also ensures the sites can meet their operational expenses such as salaries, rent, utilities, cleaning, supplies, maintenance and resources. We appreciate the confusion and frustration for families and are doing everything we can to provide clear and consistent information which reflects the current Government advice.
We are absolutely committed to continuing to provide high quality education and care to the 3,000 children and young people who attend our sites as well as maintaining job security for the nearly 500 staff who work so hard to support them. Maintaining this policy helps ensure we can do that now, through this difficult period as well as into the future.
What is self-isolation?
Being isolated at home means that the adult, child or young person needs to stay at home for the full period, unless they need medical attention. They cannot go into public areas, and should not use public transportation, ride share or taxis. Visitors to the home should be discouraged.
How is the Y managing impacts to services?
Plans have been developed to respond to the potential spread of Coronavirus. When and if there is a case in the ACT, these plans will be scaled in proportion to the spread of the virus. The response will be based on ACT Health advice, ACT Education Directorate advice and learnings from other jurisdictions.
This may include that if a student, participant, staff member or volunteer were to test positive to the virus, the impacted site or service will close for a short period while ACT Health investigates the incident and completes contact tracing. Where a site or service closes, students and participants will need to be picked up as quickly as possible. Those students, participants, staff and/ or volunteers identified as close contacts of a case will need to self-isolate at home for 14 days. You may have already seen this happening in other states in schools and workplaces where confirmed cases have been identified.
Y Canberra will then schedule a specialised clean to ensure the site or service is safe to return to when clearance is given by ACT Health.
Families/carers/members will not be charged for the period the service or site is closed. If you currently utilise our childcare services refer to Coronavirus (COVID-19) information sheet for child care providers and services which explains when you will and will not be charged and how CCS will be applied for Coronavirus related absences. Hard copies of this fact sheet are available at relevant Y Canberra services.
As a community, during this preparation phase, it may be timely for families to consider their own family and care arrangements should service or site closure be necessary.
Preventative measures the Y has taken so far
Y Canberra have been operating with increased hygiene practices for over a month now. To help reassure our members, parents and carers, please see measures implemented to date:
Hand sanitiser will be required to be used by all people before entering sites.
All common touch points (pin pads/ door handles etc) are being sanitised throughout the day.
Staff will be washing their hands throughout the day and in children’s services, children and young people are assisted and directed to do so as well.
Additional stock of hand sanitiser, disinfectants and paper products are in place at all sites.
Protective masks will be available.
Detailed information on implementing these measures and how to manage various possible scenarios related to Coronavirus is being shared with all of Y Canberra management and staff on an ongoing basis.
Preventative measures for your household
Please ensure everyone in your household continues to practice good hygiene, including:
Carefully and regularly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
When sneezing or coughing – cover your mouth and nose, then dispose of tissue and wash your hands or apply a hand sanitiser