Managing Anxiety and Your Centre’s Operations During COVID Outbreaks

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The ‘new normal’ has evolved quite a bit over the last few years, and 2022 is no exception. What has to be said is how wonderful it is to have children attending childcare, kindergarten and schools, getting the education they have every right to. 

After a long two years of avoiding contracting Covid through intense lockdowns and staying away from our loved ones, we are finally able to live our lives relatively free. This doesn’t mean, however, that Covid has disappeared (we should just focus on prevention and treat it as a flu or common cold). 

Many families, children or educators may be feeling anxious or concerned about the current situation as the prospect of contracting the virus seems to be just a matter of when for many. 

Services are having to juggle staff shortages on short notice and for extended periods compared to the common cold. As well as absences due to illness, there are also many who are required to adhere to close contact isolation protocol. 

To help your centre manage the current situation, we have put together some practical and supportive guidelines to help you manage your service effectively:

Focus on prevention: When we have stressful situations, the best way to manage it is to be in control! There are many strategies that can be used to help prevent illness and minimise symptoms. It has been scientifically proven that sufficient levels of Vitamins C and D, and Zinc are crucial in helping to fight off Covid. Vitamins are widely available and can be purchased from chemists and health shops. 

Recent studies have also shown the effectiveness of daily use of rock salt or Betadine as a preventative measure. Betadine and rock salt can be used for gargling the throat and also nasal washing, but always, check with your GP if these are suitable for you. To read laboratory studies confirming the effectiveness of Betadine against Covid-19, read here. A healthy lifestyle and spending more time outdoors are crucial in preventing any illness.

Have an emergency relief staffing plan: To meet ratios and keep rooms open safely, an emergency relief staffing plan is a must. It might have the names and phone numbers of a bunch of your preferred educators, or the contact details for the agency you use. You could consider a spreadsheet of regular casual educators and their availability. You might even chat to your current staff to find out if they have the potential for emergency fill in hours as needed outside of their usual hours (within reason of course – we don’t want anyone experiencing burn out!).

Highlight your health and safety protocols: Displaying evidence of what your service is doing to help reduce the chance of outbreaks can help put people’s minds at ease. You can explain your cleaning schedule, handwashing focus or extra outdoor time and other things you have in place. Talk about it openly in your centre, display it on the noticeboard or pop it in emails or your regular newsletter to families.

Promote wellbeing and mindfulness: Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, time with nature — the strategies we use to enhance wellbeing are incredibly valuable to alleviate the anxiety around Covid and associated stress. 

Provide support: While we are on the right track toward a sense of normality, it is still a strange time. Promote a supportive environment for all: have regular catch ups with team members, encourage connection within your service and create healthy habits, like taking your breaks on time and nourishing your body. Consider adding a list of mental health professionals where staff in need  can access support. Beyond Blue and headspace are two mental health organisations, offering free resources, online and phone support to individuals dealing with Covid related anxiety and depression. 

To get more inspirations and practical tips, read our blog from 2021 –  Exploring the Science of Wellness. 

We’ve all been through a lot, and when things get tough it’s vital that we can lean on one another. With a plan and a team approach, your centre can continue to thrive through 2022.

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