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“No rules for kids, it’s all up to the adults” says DGS head as region’s kindergartens set to open next week

36kindergarten reopenGraça Freitas, Director-General of Health, said today that it is impossible to impose rules on behaviour on young children upon their return to creches, arguing that it is up to adults to “do everything” to minimize the risk of contagion when they are playing and socializing.

Nurseries are “a place to play” and children are “very young and therefore it is not possible to impose rules of behaviour on them”, said Freitas at the daily press conference on the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal.

However, she stressed that “we must do everything that adults can do to minimize the risk of contagion whilst they are playing”. Freitas gave several examples of how to do so, such as “to split classes and to keep as few children as possible inside a room at one time”.

“It does not guarantee that they will not come together”, but it does allow for the creation of “a kind of widened social distance”. On the other hand, she pointed out that “we know that they can’t help but join in, but they can leave their shoes at the door” and, at afternoon naptime, their mattresses must be at a safe distance to avoid “droplets spreading while they sleep”.

It may also be possible to ask that “the meals that are taken also have spacing within the rooms, as well as spreading out meal time by splitting children into different groups”, exemplified the Director-General of Health.

“What we adults can do is not stop the world of children, but give them the greatest possible security and that is all in the hands of adults” she stressed.

For this reason, she defended that “it is very important that creches organize themselves according to their space and number of students”. “Now, obviously, we are not going to prevent the normal development of children, nor their games, nor their interactions, because that is impossible, we are going to do everything to minimize crossings between them, and on the other hand, protect adults who accompany them”, reiterated the Director-General of Health.

Furthermore, to prepare for the reopening of creches on the 18th of May, staff members across the Algarve are being tested for COVID-19, to deem whether it is safe for them to return to work. The initiative started in Loulé and Aljustrel, with the objective being to have “a base of trust” so that, when these spaces reopen, parents and employees feel more secure.

The António Aleixo Foundation daycare center, in Loulé, was the space chosen to kick-start this Government initiative. In the Algarve and Alentejo, the tests will be carried out by the Algarve Biomedical Center (ABC), an extension of the University of the Algarve and the ‘Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Algarve’ (CHUA).