Closure of ECD centres to prevent coronavirus spread a headache for working parents


Parents of children who attend Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDC) have been left stranded following the announcement made by Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, last Monday.

Melba Hlongwani (31), a mother from Tembisa in Ekurhuleni, works at an engineering company and says that the closure of ECDCs is going to have a huge impact on her, especially financially.

“I’m concerned because I have to hire someone to look after my children, yet I am expected to pay the crèche the full amount and they don’t care that we don’t have money. The other issue is that our employer is not going to give us time off from work. They say they want a letter should my child get sick and if the child is sick for two weeks or more, I could face disciplinary action.”

Her child’s crèche sent out a newsletter informing parents to make full payment despite the current closure.

While parents like Hlongwani are worried about the potential of contracting the coronavirus and spreading it in their homes, unemployed mother and student from Soweto, Sarah Khumalo* (38) has opened her door to caring for children whose parents have to work.

“I am looking after my child and two more from parents who have to work. As a health care assistant student, I check their (children’s) temperature when the parents bring them in the morning and when they pick them up later. I wash and sanitise their toys every four hours,” she says.

Khumalo* says she also encourages parents to maintain good hygiene practices in order to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

State of disaster 

Minister Zulu announced the closures of ECDCs following a Special Cabinet Meeting held on Sunday, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, where President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a National State of Disaster (NSD) in terms of the Disaster Management Act.  

The department followed the President’s declaration by deciding that all ECDCs and Partial Care facilities to be closed from March 18 to April 15. It (the NSD) will continue to monitor the containment of the pandemic and advise accordingly.

*Not her real name 

READ | Coronavirus: Basic protective measures

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WATCH | How coronavirus hijacks the body

- Health-e news

Image credit: Getty Images

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