Düsseldorf · From mid-August, NRW is venturing to take the required steps towards regular operation in the day-care centres and a more rational approach to children's ailments. Guidelines for this were presented on Tuesday. However, everything depends on the infection situation.
From August 17, children in day-care centres in North Rhine-Westphalia can return to regular schedules in their traditional groups with the originally booked hours of care. From now on, there is also a more suitable regulation for "children with colds or sniffles". This next relaxation step in the state government's corona strategy can now be justified, said NRW Family Minister Joachim Stamp (FDP) on Tuesday in Düsseldorf. The new regulations also apply to day care for children with day care parents.
If the infection situation worsens, however, there could always be restrictions, the minister stressed. In the worst case, the closure of a complete day care center could not be ruled out. He added that there were no nationwide criteria for such a decision by local health authorities. "This is a very individual situation on site." He said that "micro-management from Dusseldorf" could not cope with it.
The Association for Education and Upbringing (VBE) emphasised: "Daycare centres can still have sick children picked up by parents. Even before Corona, parents were asked not to bring their sick children to the day-care centre," the VBE emphasised. "This is even more important now, so that all those involved in daycare remain healthy."
The SPD opposition demanded, however, that the voluntary corona tests for educators be expanded to include children in day-care centers. In addition, the offer must extend beyond the fall vacation.
Regarding the handling of colds, the ministry recommends: "In the case of a runny nose without further signs of illness or impairment of the child's well-being, it should first be observed at home for 24 hours to see if other symptoms such as coughing, fever, etc. are added. If not, the child could be brought to care again. A medical certificate is not required.
Stamp admitted that his earlier "apodictic statement that every drop in the nose must lead to exclusion" had given rise to "misinterpretations. After he recently cleaned up his basement and had a runny nose from the dust itself for a quarter of an hour, he realized: "I can't go to the daycare center now either, if I stick to my original formulation.
That's why all the guidelines would be checked over and over again for practicality. From now on, children with already known, non-infectious chronic diseases were to be included from the care. These include asthma, allergies, hay fever or neurodermatitis. Children who have a fever or symptoms that indicate an acute, contagious disease should not be cared for.
Many parents had complained about massive care problems in recent months because of the extremely restrictive exclusion of their ailing children in many daycare centers and because of the limited operation. It is true that the daycare centres in NRW have been allowed to open again for all children since 8 June after a compulsory corona break of several months. However, shorter childcare times have been in force since then. The maximum childcare period of 45 hours could only be offered in exceptional cases; as a rule, it was only up to 35 hours per week.
"Many families have reached the limits of their capacity," Stamp admitted. Overtime accounts were empty and vacation days used up. "We want to prevent families, especially single parents, from becoming destitute." For this reason, he said, NRW would put pressure on the federal government to expand the number of paid care days for working parents of sick children.
Bottlenecks are also occurring in the day-care center personnel. According to Stamp, about seven percent of the approximately 138,000 employees are currently not available as a corona risk group due to pre-existing illnesses. Some time ago it was only 20 percent. However, many employees, who actually belonged to the risk group, had their health insurance coverage expressly extended to enable them to work.
Since the beginning of June, a total of 45 corona infections among children and 28 among employees have been reported in the most populous federal state. So far, none of the approximately 10,500 day-care facilities for children has been affected by agglomerations or chains of infection.
Stamp said that the state was "no longer in a position" to offer a corona-related reduction in parental contributions for the month of August after massive support for the sponsors. For this purpose, the state is making another 105 million euros available at short notice for occupational safety and hygiene measures. 94.5 million euros of this will be available for "day-care center helpers" who will relieve the educational staff of daily hygiene measures - such as cleaning toys, regular airing and disinfecting.
Original text: (dpa)
Translation: Mareike Graepel