A childcare professional who worked in a creche that closed, temporarily last week due to two staff members and three children contracting Covid 19 has given a chilling insight to what happened, after she quit over the way management at the facility had allowed the situation to develop.

Erica Smith, who worked in the An Daoine Oga creche in Navan c, which shut down last Wednesday and is scheduled to reopen on August 18th, has revealed that the three children who have contracted the virus were brought into the premises by their mother who worked there, the mother was the first staff member to test positive for Covid19.

She said, ‘I left earlier this week because the CEO Marie Daly, was trying to blame the parents of the kids for the story coming out in the papers, she was more concerned about that than anything else really, and I just couldn’t handle that, it’s not what I got into childcare for, the real blame lies within the facility.’

An Daoine Oga staff member with a child

Erica then disclosed that staff at the creche, located in the towns Beechmount Industrial estate, had voiced concerns over how things were being done, a number of weeks ago.

‘The first staff worker to test positive had three of her children, two girls and a boy aged between four and ten at work with her for the last few weeks.

‘When others who worked there later spotted all of them displaying possible Covid19 symptoms, and raised the issue, we were told she had a cold and the children had allergies.

‘All of us who work there are well trained and we realised quite quickly that it was far from allergies the kids had, and we did mention it to management, but it was still allowed to continue.

‘There would have been concern over permitting the children to come in initially, but as they  never showed any signs of having the virus at that stage they were allowed in.

‘The problem now is that while during the day the children were confined to one particular pod in the place, in the evening as their Mum went round all the various rooms to say her goodbyes the kids were allowed go with her, so that is a huge issue as they have tested positive as well.

‘The staff member was tested on Thursday, July 30th but was allowed to continue working up until her test returned positive on August 5th, she only had two days off in that time, the first Monday and Tuesday of this month’.

HSE guidelines on this matter clearly state, ‘While you wait for your test, you should behave as if you have the virus by self-isolating for 14 days. People in your household will need to restrict their movements.

Shockingly it appears that staff members did not adhere to HSE guidelines about the wearing of face masks either.

Erica told us, ‘We were brought in for full training and we were told about masks gloves aprons and the rest of it, yet staff wear the same mask every day, to open doors to parents, but I’m sure they wash it each night. They don’t wear it when interacting with the children.’

A picture has emerged which shows a staff member, who is clearly not wearing a mask, holding a child in her arms.

Creche CEO, Marie Daly, confirmed Erica’s statement when she was on local radio last week.

Asked directly, by Ken Murray, on LMFM’s, Late Lunch show on Monday, whether or not the staff wore masks, she said, ‘‘Staff do wear masks when meeting parents at the door who would be leaving children in, but when they are with the children they do not wear masks as they might scare the child.

‘The child needs to see and be able to react to the staffs facial expression, and for example if a staff member wore a mask while changing a nappy that could terrify the child.’

HSE guidelines, citing a recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team, (NPHET), neither of which is neither mandatory nor compulsory, states, ‘TThe National Public Health Emergency Team recommends the use of cloth face coverings by people aged 13 years or older in certain indoor settings. This guidance is applicable in childcare settings where it does not pose a barrier to care. This includes situations where there is interaction between adults when not caring for children.

However a source currently engaged in testing people for the virus said, ‘In the context of wearing or not wearing masks while minding a child the wording is open to interpretation, most of us would see it as you don’t wear a mask if it physically interferes with your ability to do the job.

‘In the case of minding children it does not do that, children are adaptable they would soon get used to a minder wearing a face mask’.

Yet in an email, sent by Marie Daly to parents she claims that staff are dealing with the situation, when she says, ‘Please be assured that the creche are taking all the necessary steps in the spread of this infection’.

Erica also revealed that parents have expressed their concern over the creche remaining open even after the virus was detected.

More than a few of them questioned why the whole facility was not shut down straight away instead of just two pods as the virus was active in the building .’

Questions sent to An Daoine Oga on numerous occasions this week have not been replied to, apart from a brief statement, that said, ‘Thank you for showing interest we have made a statement already, no further comment’.