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  • Writer's pictureJack Ward

Close call for childcare centre

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Published in The Ararat Advocate, Ararat's weekly newspaper published by West Vic News Pty Ltd.

ARARAT Early Learning Centre welcomed back its children on Monday morning, avoiding what could have been a “catastrophic” community exposure to COVID-19.

PHOTO: Aimee Harrison was back spending time with youngsters Pippa, Indie, Bonnie and Martial this week. (Contributed)

The childcare centre was abruptly closed on Tuesday, October 5, when educator, Aimee Harrison, received her COVID-19 positive test result.

The Grampians Public Health Unit declared the centre a tier one exposure site on the Friday before, sending 31 children and their families, 15 educators and two cleaners into 14 days isolation.

Ararat Early Learning Centre director, Kerri Turner, said she had only held a meeting the morning of the closure to solidify the centre’s plans if they were to be exposed.

“We already knew what we would do, but just to run through the procedures of what we would do if we did get a positive case, and then that afternoon it happened,” she said.

For some families, the 14-day period was a difficult financial and logistical juggle, but Ms Turner did what she could by waiving all gap fees and providing almost daily updates to the centre’s community.

“We had a few families that were grateful for the opportunity to spend time with their families, and of course, for others it would have really raised a lot of havoc for them,” she said.

The centre was deep cleaned last week and with no further cases detected during day 13 testing, children were over the moon to be back with their friends this week.

“The warmth and the reunions between the children and their educators were hard to put into words,” Ms Turner said.

The centre’s lack of further exposure has been attributed to either Ms Harrison not yet being infectious when working, or the centre’s stringent cleaning procedures which were introduced last year.

“It could have been absolutely catastrophic. Had we had more than the one case, we could have been closed for a lot longer, there could have been a lot more people affected,” Ms Turner said.

“I couldn't thank everybody personally because there's too many people that have contributed, but the whole community of Ararat and district has been undoubtably superb.”

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