Wicklow TD and Social Democrats spokesperson for Children, Jennifer Whitmore has called on the Government to fast-track Covid testing for childcare staff saying “Wicklow providers need to be supported during the pandemic in tandem with schools”.
Deputy Whitmore said:
“I welcome confirmation from the Department of Health that the testing of school children and staff for Covid-19 is to be fast-tracked to enable results within 24 to 48 hours.
“However, this same rapid turnaround in tests is needed for those working in the childcare sector to ensure that childcare facilities can remain open in the coming weeks and months. I’ve spoken to some in the sector who report that nationally, staff are waiting up to five days for a Covid-19 result. With over 150 childcare providers in Wicklow alone, this would obviously be a cause for concern. A 5 day turn around is simply not fast enough and will place enormous stress on providers and may mean that they will have to close if a staff member needs to isolate while awaiting results.
“It will also place an additional burden on parents and their employers if they have to take time off work to look after their children. In the event that a staff member has to isolate, this will leave the childcare facility without sufficient staff to meet the adult to child ratios as set by Tusla and would mean that the facility would be in breach of their regulations.
“We want to ensure that supports are provided to childcare facilities in tandem with schools as they open up across Wicklow. Rapid testing would be an important tool for childcare providers to help combat the risk of infections with schools benefiting from this in turn.
“Early Childhood Ireland (ECI) recently warned that providers won’t be able to keep their doors open if staff members are out sick awaiting test results and the Government needs to act on these concerns. I will be raising this issue in the Dáil and at every opportunity afforded to me to ensure that adequate supports are made available to the childcare sector” concludes Whitmore.