LETTER: Health over wealth

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Dear Editor,

The reality is The Early Childhood Sector is collapsing under the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, with lots of low-paid workers losing their jobs and many centers forced to close their doors. Nationwide, last year many centers were forced to close their doors because of not being able to pay their rent and meet payroll.

With the start of the 2020 – 2019 school year, some providers tried to keep their doors open to ensure their financial security. However, with the combination of the costs to meet safety protocols and lower revenue from the enrolment of fewer children job losses and program closures is inevitable.

Many Early Childhood directors, teachers and parents are calling for the centers to be opened each for various obvious reasons. Directors are trying to recoup some of their investment to meet the COVID-19 protocol standard and along with the teachers to be able to get a salary/wage. Parents are looking somewhere to send their children so that they can get to work and in some cases to get a break from their children. The situation is further exacerbated by having the fourth and fifth formers going back out to school. These siblings may have been helping taking care of the little ones.

Why Not Open All The School?
Although it is said, that younger children may be less likely get sick from the corona virus, they are however more vulnerable, most likely to spread the virus amongst themselves and adults. We have to be mindful that the virus is spread by the mixing of different people from different households together. Preschoolers should not be forced to social distance. According to World Health Organization (WHO) they should not wear masks under the age of five. Although not done intentionally children sneeze and couch on each other.

All this while potentially may be coming from homes that may have individuals with the virus. Older adults and those who may have underlying health conditions are at increased risk to contract the virus. It’s actually recommended persons with respiratory condition should be encouraged to stay away from children who attend early childhood centers.Even children who may have compromised immunologic conditions are advised to stay away from early childhood centers.

The argument could be made that now older siblings re: forms five and four students who might have been helping parents to look after younger siblings are going back out to school supervision of younger children will be limited. Therefore, preschools should be open. If that’s the case, the kindergartners and grade one to four students should go back to school? We might as well open the doors of all the schools fully if early childhood centres are allowed to open. However that is not prudent at this time.

The Health Of The Nation 

We all know the fall out of the economic situation is affecting everyone in the early childhood sector at the moment. However, the truth is we are not in a good space with our covid numbers. It’s not in the best interest of the health of the nation to open preschools. The mandate is on the health department, Chief medical officer (CMO) and other health official to ensure the people of the nation remain safe. They need to pay attention to community health and focus on the prevention of the spread of the virus.

As the health authority, policy makers and others work towards containing the spread of the virus, and manage the pandemic as best as they
can. Let us play our part in following the protocols. Now is the time for caregivers to demonstrate their commitment preserving
the health and safety of children and families. Reopening centers would be an
indictment of a society that says children are our future. At the end of the pandemic wealth would be none existent. However, we would at least health would be preserved allowing all to move forward to rebuild the product and come out stronger.

A Concern Citizen

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