Temperature screening

Many early childhood education and care (ECEC) services have already implemented temperature screening for all children. We strongly encourage services that are not already undertaking temperature screening to do so as soon as practicable.

When weather conditions are cold, ECEC services may consider conducting temperature checks indoors as cold weather may affect temperature readings. Appropriate indoor areas include entries such as foyers and reception spaces, and other areas that minimise congregation and mixing between staff, children and parents.

Rationale

Temperature screening can be used during a pandemic to identify the presence of fever in an individual. Fever, whilst not present in all cases, is a common symptom of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Temperature measurements in the context of a holistic assessment may help early childhood services to decide if a child should return home.

Where possible temperature screening should be conducted using non-contact infrared thermometers.

Temperature screening as a public health measure will support the identification of unwell children. Temperature screening does not replace the need for other important public health measures such as hand hygiene, and enhanced cleaning and disinfection.

The most important action that staff, students, children and families can take is to ensure they remain at home if they are unwell.

If services do not have an infrared thermometer, and are having difficulties after making efforts to source their own supply, email Early.Childhood.Implementation@edumail.vic.gov.au

Implementation

Staggering drop-off and pick-ups

Early childhood services are currently implementing changes to service entry procedures, including greeting families at the front entrance and staggering drop-off and pick-ups where required.

Reducing congregation of adults

Systems have also been put in place to reduce the number of adults congregating in service foyers and physical distancing measures are being implemented for educators, staff and families.

Communicating changes to procedure

Services should communicate to families any changes in arrival and temperature checking procedures and explain why this is important.

Parent and carers should be present during temperature screening

Screening should take place at drop-off time, while the parent or carer is still present. Children with a temperature of 37.5º Celsius or above on screening should not proceed to their room.

Screening children from inside and outside metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire

It is expected that services outside metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire areas will conduct temperature screening with children who live in these areas (at a minimum).

In services where more than half the children come from Stage 3 restricted areas, it is recommended that all children are screened.

Maintain privacy when screening

To avoid the risk of stigmatisation, these temperature screens should be conducted in a way that avoids public identification of any child. 

Consent

Written consent is not required as the process is non-intrusive. Services are advised to record the temperature of children who are deemed to have a fever or are unwell. Services are not advised to keep a record of the temperature of every child. If there is any concern about a child having their temperature screened, the service should discuss this with the family to confirm that any child who is unwell is unable to attend service.

Administration and thermometer use

Access to thermometers

If services do not have access to appropriate thermometers, please emailEarly.Childhood.Implementation@edumail.vic.gov.au 

Ensure arrival procedures are established

Establish arrival procedures including how the temperature screening will be implemented (if not currently being implemented), ensuring that it allows appropriate physical distancing between adults. Any temperature screening procedure needs to be organised in a way that does not increase congregation and mixing of staff, children and parents.

Educator training

Ensure educators are competent with the use of the equipment and interpreting results. Additional advice available below.

Minimise contact points

Ensuring that a small number of educators undertake this task to minimise multiple contact points.

Use of face coverings

A single use face mask or cloth mask made to DHHS standards is recommended for educators performing temperature checks. Refer to DHHS guidance for taking masks on and off safely

A cloth mask must be washed after each use before being worn again.

Hand hygiene

Educators should practise hand hygiene before and after conducting the temperature screening each morning.

Cleaning and storage of devices

Services should ensure that devices are cleaned and disinfected at the completion of the day's screening using disinfectant wipes or spray. Services are encouraged to ensure an infrared thermometer is available to temperature screen any child who arrives throughout the day.

Establish high temperature processes

Services should be aware of processes for when a child has a temperature of 37.5º or above on screening.

Management of children who record high temperatures

Children or other individuals who are unwell, even in the absence of a fever, should stay home. Temperature thresholds and required actions

A fever will be classified as temperature reading at or above 37.5º Celsius, with the following thresholds and required actions outlined below.

Screening should take place with parent/carer present on arrival. Any child with a second reading equal to or greater than 37.5º Celsius should return home with parent/carer.

Services should ensure that devices are cleaned and disinfected at the completion of the day's screening using disinfectant wipes or spray. Services are encouraged to ensure an infrared thermometer is available to temperature screen any child who arrives throughout the day.

Less than 37.5º

Child able to attend service.

Equal to or greater than 37.5º on first reading

The child should be asked to wait in a separate room and have their temperature re-checked in 15 minutes.

If the child is wearing outerwear, the educator should suggest the child remove this once they are indoors. 

Equal to or greater than 37.5º on second reading

The child should return home with their parent/carer.

If their parent/carer is not present, the child will need to be isolated and the parent/carer contacted to collect them from the service as soon as possible.

Families should be encouraged to seek the advice of their healthcare professional who can advise on next steps and coronavirus (COVID-19) testing.

Posters for your service

Posters have also been developed to print and display at your service: