The CEO of Early Childhood Ireland has called for vaccination priority to be given to childcare workers.
Ballybofey woman Teresa Heeney said crèches and pre-schools should be given access to paid testing so operators can reassure parents and staff that their services are free from Covid.
She told RTE’s Morning Ireland it is hard to know how many providers will reopen today, but she estimates it will be around 1,000, and capacity will be between 20% and 50%.
It is a tough balancing act to figure out how to reopen safely, she said, because providers need to meet the needs of the parents, children and staff.
She said the prioritisation of families is “very, very difficult” and Early Childhood Ireland is hoping that a refinement of the essential worker list will be given soon.
The Minister for Children, Roderick O’Gorman said the list of essential workers is a “complicated and extensive one” that reflects the complexities of the economy.
However, he added the list of essential services at Level 5 is the list the Government works on and is asking childcare providers to use.
He said it would not be beneficial to create a separate list for the childcare sector, and would only create additional confusion.
There has been engagement between providers and parents, Mr O’Gorman said, and the fact that there will be an occupancy of between 20% and 50% in crèches around the country shows that parents are taking responsible decisions.
He said public health guidance has always been that childcare settings are safe, and this is because of the huge amount of work providers and professionals have undertaken since March.