NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS – The Nevis Island Administration (NIA) is working closely with stakeholders of public and private sector early childhood development centres, to address concerns of reduced capacity at facilities in light of physical distancing requirements, brought on by COVID-19.
Speaking at his monthly press conference on July 30, 2020, Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier and Minister of Education, said his government is aware of the concern, especially by the private service providers, that new social distancing parameters will mean they can accommodate fewer children when they re-open.
This, he acknowledged, would affect their ability to generate income.
“We are well aware of the concerns. I am particularly concerned about the private sector early childhood centres, because while the government has the ability to manoeuvre in a particular way, they don’t.
“Certainly with the social distancing requirements now, the space that you had before you no longer have available to you. Because they charge per child, per month as the case may be, if suddenly they are told that they had 30 children and now they can only have 15, then their revenue stream is cut significantly, their ability to stay open is impacted.
“And so I propose to meet with them and see what we can do to assist them and see whether or not we have any space available to assist them, because they are providing a critical service, but we recognize that the new requirements would generate some hardship for them,” he said.
The premier said similarly, government-run daycare centres and preschools would be affected by the Ministry of Education’s ECD COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Checklist, which mandates indoor physical distancing requirements of 31 square feet per child for preschoolers and 40 square feet for infants.
He informed that the ministry’s technical team has looked at the various government ECD facilities and confirmed that some could accommodate the same number of children as they did previously, differently configured. Some can hold a few more because they were not fully utilised, however, the majority will have to hold less.
Premier Brantley said the ministry is looking for additional space to accommodate any spillover of enrollees.
Early childhood development centres have been given the green light to proceed with re-opening, once they meet the required standards outlined in the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Checklist.