Adoption of the operating procedures of nurseries with multiple scenarios


July 7, 2020

AMMAN - In a bid to limit the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID 19) in nurseries, the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) in cooperation with the Ministries of Social Development and Health, has approved an operating procedures document for safety and health measures in nurseries with an arrangement of scenarios depending on the developments of the epidemiological phases from high risk to low risk.

The government had allowed nurseries to reopen in the first week of last month with 50% capacity, which was increased afterwards to 75% at the beginning of this month, with the epidemiological situation moving from “medium risk” to "moderate".

According to the document obtained by Al-Ghad, the capacity of the nurseries was 50% and was limited to the children of female workers; however, the allowed capacity was raised to 75% in the moderate-risk phase without the condition of the working mother.

In a "moderate risk" phase, as conditions stipulate, corona tests are a requirement for reopening nurseries with monthly medical check-ups; group games are not allowed; no sharing of games; continuation of social distancing during drop-offs; and no parents and guests in the nurseries.

In a "low risk" phase, corona tests are not a requirement to opening nurseries; medical check-ups are needed every 3 months instead of every month; and at this level the capacity is raised to 100% allowing group games and normal clothing for nursery workers.

In the event that the epidemiological situation develops into a high-risk phase, only certain nurseries of key life-sustaining facilities will be allowed to continue operating for the use of essential employees (i.e. hospitals, public security, the army, ...etc.)under strict conditions, according to the document.

In such cases, all preventive measures should be in place including social distancing measures, putting on masks, cleaning and disinfection of the facility, application of isolation procedures, washing hands, providing sanitation supplies, and checking for temperature.

NCFA has approved the operating procedures for safety and health measures in nurseries in cooperation with the Ministries of Social Development and Health; different scenarios were designed providing the steps that should be taken in accordance with the state of the epidemiological situation.

In this context, NCFA Secretary-General, Dr. Muhammad Miqdadi, said that the scenarios were developed according to the epidemiological situation matrix the government announced at the beginning of last month, which included five phases: critical, high-risk, medium-risk, moderate-risk, and low-risk.

Miqdadi added that the matrix "depends on the developments of the epidemiological situation domestically and globally, and the procedures contained within are commensurate with the health risk indicators of each phase and are subject to continuous updating."

"The scenarios that have been developed aim to facilitate the operation of nurseries and provide a safe place for working mothers with the return of the vast majority of sectors to work, particularly in view of the basic and important role of nurseries in early childhood development and education in the provision of interactive environments for children," Miqdadi explained, noting that the procedures manual ensures the provision of such services in parallel with the provision of health and safety guarantees for children and workers in nurseries.

For her part, the Secretary-General of the National Commission for Women, Dr. Salma Al-Nims, stressed the importance of the scenarios in terms of providing gradual steps to reduce the procedures according to the epidemiological situation.

Al-Nims called for the creation of similar scenarios in other places that serve the childhood sector, such as kindergartens, schools, summer clubs and children's clubs, in realization of the right of children to education, social interaction and play, and to ensure their safety and health.

With regard to the financial costs incurred by the nurseries as a result of their closure and reopening at a reduced capacity 50%, Nims said that the Ministry of Social Development formed a committee to discuss this file, noting that the committee has submitted the results of data collected from 100 nurseries pertaining to the losses incurred by them.

According to the Ministry of Social Development figures, the total number of nurseries is 1,424, which accommodates about 50,000 children, including 650 school, college and university nurseries. As for the institutional nurseries (nurseries at the workplace) in the public and private sectors combined, the total number amounts to 109 nurseries, 20 of which are in medical sector facilities, 16 in the public sector and a total of 73 are in the private sector. The other commercial nurseries (privately owned) in the private sector are around 683.