Latest News

We will provide you with regular information. If you have any questions, please contact your Centre Manager or you can contact us at info@best-start.org or call 0508 BESTSTART for more information.

23 January 2022

Kia ora Parents

We’re open and ready to support you.

You will have heard that New Zealand moves to “Red” under the traffic light system. Your BestStart centre remains open. Our team looks forward to supporting you and your child.

The health, safety and wellbeing of our people – big and small – is always our highest priority. We have robust practices in place and will continue with these measures including:

  • Enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices
  • Social distancing of 1 metre in entrance areas• Sanitising of hands as you enter and leave your centre
  • A requirement for all parents and any visitors to wear a face mask
  • If you or your child are unwell, please do not enter the centre

There are some new things that you can do to help us protect your centre:

  • Limit the number of people at pick up or drop off to one parent/caregiver only
  • Drop off and pick up at the centre entrance/foyer and avoid entering classrooms
  • If you cannot wear a mask, please call ahead to arrange a drop off or pick up outside the centre.

We will be introducing these new requirements from Monday 24 January 2022. 
We take the safety of our children and our teams very seriously. We very much value your support in protecting our youngest and most precious. 

Thank you for choosing BestStart as your child’s early learning centre.

Yours sincerely

Tony Ryall
Chief Executive

30th December 2021

Dear Parents

This is a short update because, as you know, from midnight tonight your BestStart Early Learning  centre moves into the “Orange” part of the Covid traffic light system. 

The health, safety and wellbeing of our people – big and small – is always our highest priority. We have robust practices in place and will continue with these measures including:

  • Enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices
  • Social distancing of 1 metre in entrance areas
  • Sanitising of hands as you enter and leave our centres
  • A requirement for all parents and any visitors to wear a face mask
  • If you or your child are unwell, please do not enter the centre

Your centre is open all summer with the most amazing holiday programme. There’ll be so much fun for children. Your child can join in on all or any of these special events … even for an hour or so. Please let your centre team know you’re coming.

Thank you for your support of BestStart this year. We wish you and your family a wonderful 2022.

Yours sincerely
Tony Ryall
Chief Executive

26th November 2021

Dear Parents

You will have heard the announcement that New Zealand will move away from the Covid alert level system to the new traffic light system. There are many benefits to this for early childhood education because centres will be able to operate in any phase of the traffic light with appropriate public health requirements. We know this will finally provide you with more certainty about early childhood education availability and allow you to manage your work or family priorities.

Undoubtedly you will have questions about how we will prepare and manage our early learning centres to keep children safe. Children are vulnerable because they cannot be vaccinated. Therefore, we have a duty of care to take all possible steps to ensure the safest environments in our centres as we transition to the traffic light framework.

We already have robust practices in place and will continue with these and add some further measures. These include:

  • A new requirement for parents to wear a face mask
  • Enhanced hygiene and cleaning practices
  • Social distancing of 1 metre in entrance areas
  • Sanitising of hands as you enter and leave our centres
  • If you are unwell, please stay at home.

We are preparing our traffic light policies which will replace our current policies. We are finalising these as soon as the guidance is provided by the Ministry. We will make these available to you as soon as they are ready.

You will note our new requirement to wear a face mask when picking up or dropping off your child. As you will no doubt appreciate, each room has numerous parents coming and going to drop off and pick up children. Wearing a mask is a very effective protection and that is why we will require this for pick up and drop off. While many areas of the country do not yet have Covid the Ministry of Health says Covid will spread nationally, and that is why we are asking you to wear a mask in the centre under both red and orange.

For centres in the “red” zoned areas, mask wearing will be a required by Government and it will be unlawful not to wear a mask during pick up and drop off. We know young families lead busy lives so if you forget your mask on occasion please ask at the centre and we will be able to assist you.

In “orange” areas, we request all parents wear masks at pick up and drop off as well. If you are not prepared to wear a mask, we ask that you drop off and pick up your child in the carpark area. We will arrange for a staff member to come to you as soon as they are available. We recommend parents allow more time for pick up and drop off in case staff are not immediately available. If you have a mask exemption, please provide this to your Centre Manager.

We will be introducing this requirement from Monday 29/11/21 and it will be fully in place on Friday 3/12/21.

We take the safety of our children and our teams very seriously. We would very much appreciate your support in protecting our youngest and most precious. Together we can make this happen and we seek your full co-operation.

Regards

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

15th November 2021

Dear Parents

You will no doubt have heard today’s announcement that Hamilton will return to Alert Level 2 from 11:59pm on Tuesday 16th November 2021. This is great news, and the centres are delighted to be open and welcoming children back. The details include:

  • We are no longer required to operate “bubbles” in centres 
  • We can now open all sandpits in the outdoor area 
  • Our meal provision will be in place again in all centres that offered meals before lockdown 
  • We will continue to use cups that we wash straight after use rather than children bringing in 
  • drink bottles. However, your centre may have a specific drink bottle procedure. Please check with them.

In addition, we will continue with the following practices and procedures to support the safety, health and wellbeing of everyone which includes:

  • Use of hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the centre
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures of toys and furniture
  • Enhanced handwashing 
  • Maintaining a temperature indoors of 18 degrees along with good classroom ventilation 
  • Increased supervision through mealtimes to ensure children are not sharing food
  • Ensuring any child that is unwell is isolated and parents are called to collect them

Whilst the Level 2 changes feel more “normal” we will be adhering to all Public Health guidance to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of children, our teams and families. With that in mind we will be continuing to encourage physical distancing at sign in and sign out as well as in the carpark area. This will ensure drop off and pick up is efficient and safe for everyone. We will be implementing our Covid 19 Level 2 Policy. You can access a copy of this policy in Storypark from tomorrow.

On Wednesday 17th of October 2021 when we move to Level 2 we expect many more families will be returning. It would be most helpful if you could let your centre know your plans so we can plan staffing. We may have some staff that are still unable to return to work for various reasons so we do need to ensure we have adequate teachers for the children that will be in attendance.

We are sure the children will be delighted to see their teachers and friends and there will be plenty of fun activities planned to keep them busy and engaged in learning. We look forward to seeing those of you who have not yet returned and welcoming you all back again.

Regards

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

8th November 2021

Dear Parents,

You will no doubt have heard the Government announcement today that Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 Step 2 on Tuesday 9th November 2021 from 11:59pm. The Ministry of Education has confirmed that with the easing of restrictions as we work through the step changes of Level 3 that there will be a change in the number of children who can be in a centre bubble. They have confirmed that bubble sizes can increase from 10 children to 20 children. 

This availability applies at Level 3 Step 2 and will commence on Wednesday 10th November 2021.

Most centres will be able to increase their bubbles but please be aware that some centres may have layout constraints which also need to be adhered to so not all centres will increase to the full 20 due to this. Your Centre Manager will know how many children they can accommodate in addition to what they currently have. So, please email your Centre Manager if you would like to reserve one of the available additional spaces.

We are very excited that more children can return and see their teachers and friends. There will be plenty of exciting activities as we welcome them back after such a long time.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

5th November 2021

Dear Parents,

The Ministry of Education has confirmed that with the easing of restrictions as we work through the step changes of Level 3 that there will be a change in the number of children who can be in a centre bubble. They have confirmed that bubble sizes can increase from 10 children to 20 children.

Most centres will be able to increase their bubbles but please be aware that some centres may have layout constraints which also need to be adhered to so not all centres will increase to the full 20 due to this. Your Centre Manager will know how many children they can accommodate in addition to  what they currently have. So, please email your Centre Manager if you would like to reserve one of the available additional spaces.

This availability applies at Level 3 Step 2 which is currently in place in our Waikato centres and will apply from Monday 8th November 2021.

We are very excited that more children can return and see their teachers and friends. There will be plenty of exciting activities as we welcome them back.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

18th October 2021

Dear Parents

You will no doubt have heard today’s announcement that Northland will return to Alert Level 2 from 11:59pm on Tuesday 19th October 2021. This is great news, and the centres are delighted to be open and welcoming children back. The details include:

• We are no longer required to operate “bubbles” in centres 
• We can now open all sandpits in the outdoor area 
• Our meal provision will be in place again in all centres that offered meals before lockdown 
• We will continue to use cups that we wash straight after use rather than children bringing in drink bottles. 

In addition, we will continue with the following practices and procedures to support the safety, health, and wellbeing of everyone which includes:

• Use of hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the centre
• Enhanced cleaning procedures of toys and furniture
• Enhanced handwashing 
• Maintaining a temperature indoors of 18 degrees along with good classroom ventilation 
• Increased supervision through mealtimes to ensure children are not sharing food
• Ensuring any child that is unwell is isolated and parents are called to collect them

Whilst the Level 2 changes feel more “normal” we will be adhering to all Public Health guidance to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of children, our teams, and families. With that in mind we will be continuing to encourage physical distancing at sign in and sign out as well as in the carpark area. This will ensure drop off and pick up is efficient and safe for everyone. We will be implementing our Covid 19 Level 2 Policy. You can access a copy of this policy in Storypark.

On Wednesday 20th of October 2021 when we move to Level 2 we expect many more families will be returning. It would be most helpful if you could let your centre know your plans so we can plan staffing. We may have some staff that are still unable to return to work for various reasons so we do need to ensure we have adequate teachers for the children that will be in attendance.

We are sure the children will be delighted to see their teachers and friends and there will be plenty of fun activities planned to keep them busy and engaged in learning. We look forward to seeing those of you who have not yet returned and welcoming you all back again. 

Regards,

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

13th October 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will no doubt already know the Government has announced that the Waikato and Northland regions will remain at Alert Level 3 for a further 5 days. We will wait for their announcement on the next move and whether those regions will move down to Alert Level 2 early next week. So, until then it means that things remain the same in our centres. Early learning services are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. 

Centres are currently operating at limited capacity under Alert Level 3. If your child is currently attending a centre, nothing will change. If you need to return to one of our centres and haven’t already returned, then please contact your Centre Manager by email or via Storypark to request a space for your child if you will be working and need our services. It is important that you book a 
space as entry will only be given to those with a confirmed booking. Under this Level 3 we will not charge fees for any child that does not attend.

Our Level 3 policies have been loaded into Storypark so if you haven’t yet returned you will find the information available there. You may be familiar with them however we encourage you to refresh your understanding if you need to use our centres. These policies have been written to protect you, our teams, and our children.

The centres are providing fantastic activities for children who are attending so there is plenty to keep them busy. We will update you as we get further information.
Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

11th October 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will no doubt already know the Government has announced that the Waikato and Northland regions will remain at Alert Level 3 until at least 11:59pm Thursday 14th October 2021. There will be an announcement on Wednesday 13th to confirm whether those regions will move down to AlertLevel 2. So, until then it means that things remain the same in our centres. Early learning services 
are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. 

Centres are currently operating at limited capacity under Alert Level 3. If your child is currently attending a centre, nothing will change. If you need to return to one of our centres and haven’t already returned, then please contact your Centre Manager by email or via Storypark to request a space for your child if you will be working and need our services. It is important that you book a 
space as entry will only be given to those with a confirmed booking. Under this Level 3 we will not charge fees for any child that does not attend.

Our Level 3 policies have been loaded into Storypark so if you haven’t yet returned you will find the information available there. You may be familiar with them however we encourage you to refresh your understanding if you need to use our centres. These policies have been written to protect you, our teams, and our children.

The centres are providing fantastic activities for children who are attending so there is plenty to keep them busy. We will update you as we get further information.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

8th October 2021

Dear Parents,
As you will no doubt already know Northland will move to alert Level 3 from 11:59pm tonight 8 October 2021. This is for a period of four days and will be reviewed on Monday 11 October 2021. Level 3 means that early learning services are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. 

While we have operated at Level 2 we were able to offer our full capacity. Returning to Level 3 means we will need to again reduce our capacity and operate in bubbles of 10. We will give priority to essential workers. Please contact your Centre Manager by email or via Storypark to request a space for your child if you will be working and need our services. It is important that you book a space as entry will only be given to those with a confirmed booking. Under this Level 3 we will not charge fees for any child that does not attend.

We will be operating our Level 3 policies again and these will be loaded into Storypark. You may be familiar with them, however we encourage you to refresh your understanding if you need to use our centres. These policies have been written to protect you, our teams and our children.

It will still be a busy, fun week for children attending with lots of activities planned. We will update you as the situation unfolds and hope that this is a short lockdown for you all.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

7th October 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will no doubt already know there has been an extension to the boundaries of alert Level 3 in the Waikato from 11:59pm tonight 7 October 2021. This is until at least 11:59pm on Monday 11 October 2021. This will impact our centres in Te Awamutu and Cambridge. Level 3 means that early learning services are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. 

While we have operated at Level 2 we were able to offer our full capacity. Returning to Level 3 means we will need to again reduce our capacity and operate in bubbles of 10. We will give priority to essential workers. Please contact your Centre Manager by email or via Storypark to request a space for your child if you will be working and need our services. It is important that you book a space as entry will only be given to those with a confirmed booking. Under this Level 3 we will not charge fees for any child that does not attend

We will be operating our Level 3 policies again and these will be loaded into Storypark. You may be familiar with them; however, we encourage you to refresh your understanding if you need to use our centres. These policies have been written to protect you, our teams, and our children.

It will still be a busy, fun week for children attending with lots of activities planned. We will update you as the situation unfolds.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

4th October 2021

Dear Parents,

You will be aware of the announcement made today in relation to Auckland remaining at Level 3. So, parents in Hamilton and Auckland are remaining at Level 3 under the same conditions as we currently have.

There has been confusion around the announcement as it was reported that early childhood centres would return from Wednesday 6th October 2021. What wasn’t communicated was that it is still under the current Level 3 restrictions.

Understandably, our centres are now receiving a high volume of calls from parents who have taken it to mean we are back to normal.

We have discussed this at the highest level of the Ministry of Education late today and they have confirmed that in their view nothing changes. They are awaiting the Public Health Order to check the details and will release information to us tomorrow.

We are frustrated by the confusion, as we know you will be too. We will be checking the advice from the Ministry of Education as soon as we receive it. Should there be any change we will let you know.

Whilst our centres are relatively full, with the current bubbles of 10, there may be capacity for additional children. Not all centres have completely filled their bubbles of 10. So, if you want care for your child, please contact your Centre Manager by email or via Storypark to see if there is a space available. We ask you to be understanding of the restrictions in place and do apologise if we can’t yet take your child.

We will continue to keep up to date with information and pass it onto you as it comes to hand.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

3rd October 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will no doubt already know Hamilton’s alert level will be lifted Level 2 to Level 3 from 11:59pm tonight 3 October 2021. This is for a period of 5 days. Level 3 means that early learning services are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. 

While we have operated at Level 2 we were able to offer our full capacity. Returning to Level 3 means we will need to again reduce our capacity and operate in bubbles of 10. We will give priority to essential workers. Please contact your Centre Manager by email or via Storypark to request a space for your child if you will be working and need our services. It is important that you book a space as entry will only be given to those with a confirmed booking. Under this Level 3 we will not charge fees for any child that does not attend.

We will be operating our Level 3 policies again and these will be loaded into Storypark. You may be familiar with them, however we encourage you to refresh your understanding if you need to use our centres. These policies have been written to protect you, our teams and our children.

It will still be a busy, fun week for children attending with lots of activities planned. We will update you as the situation unfolds.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes

Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

20th September 2021

Kia ora Whanau, 

We are delighted to finally be welcoming our Auckland whanau back to our centres albeit under Level 3 expectations. The Government has confirmed that Auckland will enter alert level 3 at 11:59pm Tuesday 21 September 2021. This means we will be able to open our doors on Wednesday 22 September 2021. We hope you have enjoyed BestStart@Home during the Level 4 Lockdown. It’s been wonderful to see the interactions and connections of all our teams with whanau and children.

Level 3 means that early learning services are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. There will be restricted spaces available as we will be operating in bubbles of 10 so we need to know in advance if you need our service. This is to ensure we have sufficient staffing to meet the ratios and expectations of the Ministry. Please contact your centre via email or Storypark to let them know if you will need to attend the centre. If you do not need to attend the centre and your circumstances change, please contact your Centre Manager.

We have been working very closely with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health on how things will operate at Level 3 and have received their guidance document. We were invited to provide feedback on this guidance as they recognise our depth of expertise, and we can assure you that it includes robust systems and requirements to keep everyone safe. 

This guidance has been pivotal to the revised policies and procedures we will be operating with as we open our doors. A link to our Level 3 policy is provided later in this communication. Please take time to read through this so you are aware of how things will work.

Things will look and feel a bit different when you arrive at the centre under Level 3 conditions but remember it’s the same team, the same place and that the safety and wellbeing of children, staff and family are at the forefront of these measures.

Some of the things that will be different include:

  • A different sign in process including accepting one child at a time and distancing requirements outside of the centre as you wait for access 
  • We will ask you to bring your own pen for sign in and to use the hand sanitiser as you enter and exit the centre. We also encourage you to wear a mask at pick up and drop off
  • Children will be dropped at each classroom door and welcomed by a teacher
  • Children will be grouped in “bubbles” of 10 max plus their teachers.
  • Teachers in each bubble will remain the same 
  • We will be using strict staff monitoring policies that cover health and contact tracing 
  • Visitors to centres will be restricted
  • Increased cleaning, sanitising of toys and furniture will be undertaken
  • In our outdoor environment only one bubble will use the play equipment at a time. Once finished it will be sanitised before the next bubble uses it
  • Meals for this Level 3 period will need to be in lunch boxes provided from home for morning eas, lunch and afternoon tea.
  • Distancing during meals will be undertaken and mealtimes will be staggered.
  • We ask that you don’t send drink bottles at this time as centres will use their own single use cups which will be cleaned after use or disposed of (for centres who don’t have cups currently and need to use paper cups)
  • Our staff will observe distancing in our staff areas
  • Children will be encouraged to learn our own handwashing song 




The above details only some of the changes we are implementing. There are many more that are clear in our revised policies which you will be able to read and query if you need to. Please read our Interim Policy and Procedure – Covid19-Level 3 policy here COVID19 Level 3 Policy August 2021.

The Ministry of Education has made it very clear that “children must not attend the service if they are sick. If parents or caregivers are sick, they must not enter the premises”. We know that you may need to be at work and that care arrangements may be challenging. However, given the heightened expectations on us in relation to unwell children we ask for your understanding should your child be asked to stay home due to illness.

You can be assured that the measures we are taking are substantial to ensure the safest possible environment. There will also be more detailed information about specific procedures that will be available at each centre.

The past weeks have been challenging but we are very proud of our team connecting with whanau on BestStart@Home. 

We are committed to ensuring we take every precaution to ensure the safety of all who enter our sites. We look forward to seeing you all as you return to the centre and begin the journey of returning to normal life.

Keep safe

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

7th September 2021

Dear Parents

Yesterday we confirmed that all our centres outside of Auckland will be open and welcoming children back at Alert Level 2. The details released on what Level 2 will look like have been sent to us and we have detailed what will be in place when you arrive at the centre:
• We are no longer required to operate “bubbles” in centres (A Level 3 requirement)
• We can now open all sandpits in the outdoor area 
• Our meal provision will be in place again in all centres that offered meals before lockdown
• We will continue to use cups that we wash straight after use rather than children bringing in drink bottles. 

In addition, we will continue with the following practices and procedures to support the safety, health and wellbeing of everyone which includes:
• Use of hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the centre
• Enhanced cleaning procedures of toys and furniture
• Enhanced handwashing 
• Maintaining a temperature indoors of 18 degrees along with good classroom ventilation 
• Increased supervision through mealtimes to ensure children are not sharing food
• Ensuring any child that is unwell is isolated and parents are called to collect them

Whilst the Level 2 changes feel more “normal” we will be adhering to all Public Health guidance to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of children, our teams and families. With that in mind we will be continuing to encourage physical distancing at sign in and sign out as well as in the carpark area. This will ensure drop off and pick up is efficient and safe for everyone. We will be implementing our Covid 19 Level 2 Policy. You can access a copy of this policy in Storypark.

On Wednesday 8th of September 2021 when we move to Level 2 we expect many more families will be returning. It would be most helpful if you could let your centre know your plans so we can plan staffing. We may have some staff that are still unable to return to work for various reasons so we do need to ensure we have adequate teachers for the children that will be in attendance.

We are sure the children will be delighted to see their teachers and friends and there will be plenty of fun activities planned to keep them busy and engaged in learning. We look forward to seeing those of you who have not yet returned and welcoming you all back again.

Regards

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

6th September 2021

Dear Parents

You will all have heard that all of NZ (with the exception of Auckland) will move to Alert Level 2 at  11:59pm on Tuesday 7th September 2021. 

So, we’re excited to welcome all our families back into our centres on Wednesday 8th September! This has been confirmed by the Ministry of Education. The reunions will be awesome!

We are yet to receive full guidance details but expect to have that tomorrow morning. As soon as we have this, we will get in touch again with any important details.

Meanwhile we wish you a good evening and we will be in touch soon.

Regards

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

30th August 2021

Kia ora whanau, 

We are delighted to be welcoming you back to our centres albeit under Level 3 expectations. We hope you have enjoyed BestStart@Home during the Level 4 Lockdown. It’s been wonderful to see the interactions and connections of all our teams with whanau and children.

Level 3 means that early learning services are open for all children whose parents or carers need to go to work and there is no one at home to supervise them. There will be restricted spaces available as we will be operating in bubbles of 10 so we need to know in advance if you need our service. This is to ensure we have sufficient staffing to meet the ratios and expectations of the Ministry. If you have indicated you will not need to attend the centre and your circumstances change, please contact your Centre Manager.

We have been working very closely with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health on how things will operate at Level 3 and have received their guidance document. We were invited to provide feedback on this guidance as they recognise our depth of expertise, and we can assure you that it includes robust systems and requirements to keep everyone safe. 

This guidance has been pivotal to the revised policies and procedures we will be operating with as we open our doors. A link to our Level 3 policy is provided later in this communication. Please take time to read through this so you are aware of how things will work.

Things will look and feel a bit different when you arrive at the centre under Level 3 conditions but remember it’s the same team, the same place and that the safety and wellbeing of children, staff and family are at the forefront of these measures.

Some of the things that will be different include:

  • A different sign in process including accepting one child at a time and distancing requirements outside of the centre as you wait for access 
  • We will ask you to bring your own pen for sign in and to use the hand sanitiser as you enter and exit the centre. We also encourage you to wear a mask at pick up and drop off
  • Children will be dropped at each classroom door and welcomed by a teacher
  • Children will be grouped in “bubbles” of 10 max plus their teachers. 
  • Teachers in each bubble will remain the same 
  • We will be using strict staff monitoring policies that cover health and contact tracing 
  • Visitors to centres will be restricted
  • Increased cleaning, sanitising of toys and furniture will be undertaken
  • In our outdoor environment only one bubble will use the play equipment at a time. Once finished it will be sanitised before the next bubble uses it
  • Meals for this Level 3 period will need to be in lunch boxes provided from home for morning teas, lunch and afternoon tea.
  • Distancing during meals will be undertaken and mealtimes will be staggered.
  • We ask that you don’t send drink bottles at this time as centres will use their own single use cups which will be cleaned after use or disposed of (for paper cups)
  • Our staff will observe distancing in our staff areas
  • Children will be encouraged to learn our own handwashing song 


The above details only some of the changes we are implementing. There are many more that are clear in our revised policies which you will be able to read and query if you need to. Please read our Interim Policy and Procedure – Covid19-Level 3 policy here COVID19 Level 3 Policy August 2021

The Ministry of Education has made it very clear that “children must not attend the service if they are sick. If parents or caregivers are sick, they must not enter the premises”. We know that you may need to be at work and that care arrangements may be challenging. However, given the heightened expectations on us in relation to unwell children we ask for your understanding should your child be asked to stay home due to illness.

You can be assured that the measures we are taking are substantial to ensure the safest possible environment. There will also be more detailed information about specific procedures that will be available at each centre.

The past two weeks have been challenging but we are very proud of our team connecting with whanau on BestStart@Home. 

We are committed to ensuring we take every precaution to ensure the safety of all who enter our sites. We look forward to seeing you all as you return to the centre and begin the journey of returning to normal life.

Keep safe

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

23rd August 2021

Kia ora BestStart Families

As you will no doubt know, the Government has announced that the L4 lockdown has been extended until Friday 27th August at 11:59pm (for all places out of Auckland) and for Auckland

until Tuesday 31st August at 11:59pm. This means all our centres are required to remain closed. We will continue to waive parent fees during this closure.

We are pleased to let you know that we are re-introducing our online platform BestStart@Home. So, our teachers will be connecting with whanau offering opportunities for children to engage with learning at home. This is a great way to keep your child engaged in learning. Look out for contact in the coming days.

We will continue to monitor the situation and await the decision from Government later in the week. We will be in touch again when there is more to update you on.

20th August 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will no doubt know, the Government has announced that the 3-day L4 lockdown has been extended until Tuesday 24th August at 11:59 pm. This means all our centres are required to remain closed. We will continue to waive parent fees during this closure. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and await further decisions next week. We will be in touch again once we hear of any further updates.

Keep safe and well.

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

19th August 2021

Dear Parents,

Now we have more information about decisions being made we thought we would update you on a  couple of matters. 

Parent Fees
We are waiving all parent fees during the current lockdown period. This means there is no need for you to adjust bookings. Our Admin Support team is working hard to make these changes in our systems.

Essential Workers
This lockdown differs from previous ones as it relates to essential workers. Early childhood centres are required to be closed to all families at this stage. We are monitoring the advice from the Ministry of Education and will let you know of any changes to the status of this requirement. Should we be able to open at any point, we are well versed in the appropriate measures to be taken and will be 
able to put these in place quickly

Learning At Home
Resources are available online to support parents, whānau and caregivers to enable children’s learning from home. To support this, resources and guidance is available on the Learning from Home website.

Home Learning TV can also be accessed on demand here or via the TVNZ App on a device (mobile phone, smart tv or tablet)

Mauri Reo, Mauri Ora can be accessed on demand from Māori TV

We will continue to monitor things closely and have excellent contacts to ensure you have the most up to date information. We will be in touch again once we know if there will be any change in the status of the current lockdown.

Keep safe and well.

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

17th August 2021 - Auckland and Coromandel 

Dear Parents,

I’m sure you are all aware that the Government has announced a Level 4 lockdown across Auckland and the Coromandel for 7 days from 11:59 pm tonight. This means that our centres cannot open tomorrow or for the duration of this 7-day lockdown period. 

As in previous lockdowns we will continue to monitor the situation closely and have excellent contacts to ensure you have the most up to date information. 

Keep safe and well.

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

17th August 2021 - The rest of NZ

Dear Parents,

I’m sure you are all aware that the Government has announced a Level 4 lockdown in Auckland and Coromandel for 7 days and for the rest of NZ for 3 days from 11:59 pm tonight. This means that our centres cannot open tomorrow or for the duration of this 3-day lockdown period. 

As in previous lockdowns we will continue to monitor the situation closely and have excellent contacts to ensure you have the most up to date information. 

Keep safe and well.

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO

28th February 2021

Dear Parents,

As you will no doubt already know Auckland has been placed into a Level 3 lockdown from 6am Sunday 28th of February and the rest of the country at the same time to an alert Level 2. This is for a period of 7 days.

Our centres will remain open for any parents who need us. We will be operating our Level 3 policies again and these will be loaded into Storypark. You may be familiar with them, however we encourage you to refresh your understanding if you need to use our centres. These policies have been written to protect you, our teams and our children.

It will still be a busy, fun week for children attending with lots of activities planned. We will update you as the situation unfolds.

Take care and keep well everyone.

Best wishes
Fiona Hughes
Deputy CEO

14 February 2021

Dear Parents,

As you know, the Government has announced that Level 3 restrictions will be imposed in Auckland from 11:59pm on Sunday 14th February until at least Wednesday evening 17th February.

At alert Level 3 we are available to care for your child if you need us. Our teams will be at centres for any child that arrives to be cared for. This has been supported by the Ministry of Education. Our van drivers will not be able to pick children up, but centre cooks still be at the centres providing meals.

Our level 3 Policy will be available for you to read on Storypark. Please read this as it gives valuable information of what may be needed on arrival to keep everyone safe.

Centres will now operate with “bubbles” of 20 children per room as happened in the previous Level 3 lockdown.
It has come upon us quickly, but we stand ready to support you all as this situation evolves.

Centres will have planned for a “normal” week and will be ready with fun and interesting activities to keep children busy!
If you would like to know what is in store for the week, please feel free to ask your centre team. They will be delighted to let you know!

We all look forward to welcoming those of you attending this week and will keep you updated about what is happening later in the week.

Keep safe everyone!

Best wishes,

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO 

Update 24 August 2020

Dear Parents, 
 
As you know, the Government has announced that Level 3 restrictions will remain in place until 11:59pm on Sunday 30th August.  So, we are very pleased that Alert Level 2 will come into place on Monday 31st of August.    

At alert Level 3 we are available to care for your child if you need us.  We had a great week last week with all our centres operating at Alert Level 2 or 3. 

Children were enjoying many fun activities!  And learning a lot!  

Centres were busy and bustling so if your child has not been attending, they will be warmly welcomed back this week or on 31st August.  If you plan to bring your child in for the first time since Level 3 commenced, it would be very helpful if you could let us know so we can plan to have the right number of teachers available.  There is lots planned for the coming weeks and I know your child will be delighted to be reunited with their friends and teachers. 

If you would like to know what is in store for the week, please feel free to ask your centre team.  They will be delighted to let you know!   

For our Auckland centres we will be re-introducing our Level 2 policies and procedures which have been working very well around the country   We have really appreciated the co-operation of parents with our procedures at drop off and pick up. 

We all look forward to welcoming you this week or on the 31st of August. There is more fun and learning for children to enjoy! 

Keep safe and well. See you soon! 
 
Fiona Hughes 

Deputy CEO 


Update 16 August 2020

Dear Parents

The Government announced on 14 August that Auckland will remain at Alert Level 3 until 11:55pm 26th August.

The safety of your children and our teams remains at the forefront of our minds.

This means that BestStart Centres in Auckland will operate for the children of all parents who need us in addition to children of essential workers.  If you need to bring your child into your centre, you can.  This was clarified by the Ministry of Education in their communications to us late in the week where they said “It is expected that early learning services in the wider Auckland region continue to remain open for those children who need to attend, including children of parents and caregivers working in essential services.”   

We have distributed our revised policies and procedures and have operated smoothly at Level 3 since it came into place. 

For anyone who did not attend from Wednesday last week we have waived your fees for those days with the support of our owners the Wright Family Foundation.   If you do not attend at Level 3, we will not charge you fees so there’s no need to adjust your bookings. For those children attending things will look and feel a bit different when you arrive at the centre under Alert Level 3 conditions but remember it’s the same team and the same place.   Below is the information we have previously sent you indicating what you will see in your centre.  Please note the requirement to provide food from home in lunch boxes at Level 3.

Details include:

  • Daily health checks for both staff and children will be undertaken
  • Temperature checking of children and teachers will be optional
  • We continue to encourage and demonstrate good hand washing practice.  A video on how best to do this is available here. “Nanogirl” Dr Michelle Dickinson has also made an excellent video, aimed at children, showing why hand washing is so important to get rid of viruses.
  • A different sign in process including accepting one child at a time and distancing requirements outside of the centre as you wait for access
  • We will ask you to bring your own pen for sign in and to use the hand sanitiser as you enter and exit the centre
  • Children will be dropped at each classroom door and welcomed by a teacher
  • Children will be grouped in “bubbles” of 20 maximum whilst in Level 3 plus their teachers.   Bubbles will not mix.  Teachers in each bubble will remain the same
  • We will be using strict staff monitoring policies that cover health and contact tracing
  • Visitors to centres will be restricted and will be required to follow policy
  • Our staff will enhance their daily cleaning practices at centres with a focus on regular touch points, including sanitising of toys and furniture
  • Hand sanitiser is available in centres for parents, staff and children to use as they come and go.  Check with your centre team so you know where this is located.
  • Distancing during meals will be undertaken and meal- times will be staggered
  • In our outdoor environment only one bubble will use the play equipment at a time.  Once finished it will be sanitised before the next bubble uses it
  • Meals for Level 3 period will need to be in lunch boxes. So please provide your child with food prepared at home for morning teas, lunch and afternoon tea.
  • We ask that you do not send drink bottles at this time as centres will use their own single use cups which will be cleaned after use or disposed of (for paper cups)
  • Our staff will observe distancing in our staff areas

We also reiterate that the Ministry of Education has made it very clear that “children must not attend the service if they are sick. If parents or caregivers are sick, they must not enter the premises”.  We know that you may need to be at work and that care arrangements may be challenging.  However, given the heightened expectations on us in relation to unwell children we ask for your understanding should your child be asked to stay home due to illness.

Thank you for your co-operation.  We look forward to welcoming your child so they can enjoy seeing their friends and teachers and engage in our fun and educational programme again.

Keep safe and well.

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO


Update 12 August 2020

Dear Parents

The Government has announced Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 from midday Wednesday 12 August for three days until midnight Friday.

For all BestStart Auckland centres, we will open for children of essential workers.  All other centres throughout the country will be open normal hours.

Please take care everyone.


Update 11 May 2020

Dear Parents 
 
We’re excited to welcome all our families back on Monday 18 May! The reunions will be awesome! 
 
We were delighted to welcome back more children to our centres in the second week of Level 3 for parents needing to return to work under the guidelines set out by Government.  It was wonderful to see the children’s excitement on returning and reconnecting with their teachers and friends.   
 
Today the Government announced their decision that early childhood centres will move to Level 2 on Monday 18th May. The details released on what Level 2 will look like have been sent to us and there will be some adjustments made to information we have previously sent you.  So from 18th May: 
 

  • Space per child indoors will be adjusted back to normal
  • We are no longer required to operate “bubbles” in centres 
  • We can now open all sandpits in the outdoor area 
  • Our meal provision will be in place again in all centres that offered meals before lockdown 

In addition, there are further expectations we will continue to meet which include:  

  • Use of hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the centre
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures of toys and furniture 
  • Enhanced handwashing 
  • Maintaining a temperature indoors of 18 degrees 
  • Rolling kai for mealtimes to encourage distance between children 
  • Temperature checking of children and teachers 
  • Health checking of teachers
  • Ensuring any child that is unwell is isolated and parents are called to collect them 

Whilst the Level 2 changes feel more “normal” we will be adhering to all Public Health guidance to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of children, staff and families.  With that in mind we will be continuing to encourage physical distancing at sign in and sign out as well as in the carpark area.  This will ensure drop off and pick up is efficient and safe for everyone. 
 
On Monday 18th May when we move to Level 2 we expect many more families will be returning.  It would be most helpful if you could let your centre know your plans so we can plan staffing.  We may have some staff that are still unable to return to work for various reasons so we do need to ensure we have adequate teachers for the children that will be in attendance 
 
We look forward to seeing those of you who have not yet returned and welcoming you all back again.   

See you next week! 

Regards, 
 
Fiona Hughes Deputy CEO 


Update 28 April 2020

BestStart centres throughout New Zealand are now open under Level 3 public health measures.

Please phone your centre first so that the team can explain the new COVID-19 policies and procedures we have in place to protect children and staff.

These policies and procedures comply with Ministries of Education and Health requirements.


Update 24 April 2020

Dear Parents

We are delighted to be welcoming you back to our centres albeit under Level 3 expectations. We hope you have enjoyed the world of BestStart@Home during the Level 4 Lockdown. It’s been wonderful to see the interactions and connections of all our teams with whanau and children. We are excited about seeing you and your child again!

We have been working very closely with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health on how things will operate at Level 3 and have received their guidance document. We were invited to provide feedback on this guidance as they recognise our depth of expertise. We can assure you that it includes robust systems and requirements to keep everyone safe. 

This guidance has been pivotal to the revised policies and procedures we will be operating with as we open our doors. We will provide you with the revised documents on Storypark. 

Things will look and feel a bit different when you arrive at the centre under Level 3 conditions but remember it’s the same team and the same place. The safety and wellbeing of children, staff and family are at the forefront of these measures.

Some of the things that will be different include:

  • Temperature checking of children and teachers
  • A different sign in process including accepting one child at a time and distancing requirements outside of the centre as you wait for access
  • We will ask you to bring your own pen for sign in and to use the hand sanitiser as you enter and exit the centre
  • Children will be dropped at each classroom door and welcomed by a teacher
  • Children will be grouped in “bubbles” of 10 maximum for the first two weeks of Level 3 plus their teachers.   Bubbles will not mix.
  • Teachers in each bubble will remain the same
  • We will be using strict staff monitoring policies that cover health and contact tracing
  • Visitors to centres will be restricted
  • Increased cleaning, sanitising of toys and furniture will be undertaken
  • Distancing during meals will be undertaken and meal-times will be staggered
  • In our outdoor environment only one bubble will use the play equipment at a time.  Once finished it will be sanitised before the next bubble uses it
  • Meals for this Level 3 period will need to be in lunch boxes. So please provide your child with food from home for morning teas, lunch and afternoon tea.
  • We ask that you don’t send drink bottles at this time as centres will use their own single use cups which will be cleaned after use or disposed of (for paper cups)
  • Our staff will observe distancing in our staff areas
  • Children will learn our own handwashing song

The Handwashing Song (New Zealand) An action song teaching tamariki how to wash their hands properly. Includes lyrics and guitar chords. Song composed and sang by Stacy Walker.https://youtu.be/YatU0gfklwU

We need to know in advance if you need our service at this time so we can ensure we have sufficient staffing to meet the ratios and expectations of the Ministry.  If you have indicated you will not need to attend the centre and your circumstances change, please contact your Centre Manager. The above information details only some of the changes we are implementing. There are many more that are set out in our revised policies which you will be able to read on Story Park.

The Ministry of Education has made it very clear that “children must not attend the service if they are sick. If parents or caregivers are sick, they must not enter the premises”. We know that you may need to be at work and that care arrangements may be challenging. However, given the heightened expectations on us in relation to unwell children we ask for your understanding should your child be asked to stay home due to illness.

You can be assured that the measures we are taking are substantial to ensure the safest possible environment. There will also be more detailed information about specific procedures that will be available at each centre.

The past four weeks have seen one of the most remarkable times in our history. We are committed to ensuring we take every precaution to ensure the safety of all who enter our sites. We look forward to seeing you all as you return to the centre and begin the journey of returning to normal life.

Fiona Hughes 

Deputy CEO  


Update 20 April 2020

Dear Parents

We trust that you and your family are well and are enjoying the amazing world of online learning at BestStart@Home.

As you may know the country will move to Alert Level 3 at midnight on Monday 27 April. 

Under Level 3 early learning centres can open but with restricted numbers to meet public health measures. 

The Government has advised that “Parents and caregivers should keep their children at home and maintain distance learning where that is possible.”

“Parents and caregivers can send children to their early learning centre if they need to”.

At this stage, BestStart is planning to re-open most of our centres with limited places on Tuesday 28 April. The restricted number of places is set by the Ministry of Education and varies from centre to centre. 

Over the next two days your BestStart centre team will call you to ask if your child will be attending next week. 

If your child is not attending, we will not be charging fees. 

At this stage BestStart centres will be re-opening with new procedures to meet other public health requirements set out by the Ministry of Education. We will update you on these later in the week.

Please be assured the safety of your child and our staff are the top priority in all we do. 

Fiona Hughes

Deputy CEO


Update 30 March - Launching BestStart@Home

BestStart is delighted to announce the launch of BestStart@Home! 

This will allow us to support childrens' learning at home with our new virtual, interactive teaching. It’s going to be amazing!

We have a variety of options that we will explore with families. It’s important to us that we continue to support an individual childs learning journey, staying well connected with families. This will help to continue the fantastic relationships we've developed between teachers and children and will support an easier transition back to the centre for children when we reopen. You can find our more https://best-start.org/beststarthome


Update 24 March 2020

We'd like to confirm we will not be charging parent fees for the four weeks that our centres are closed due to COVID-19. We wish every one of our children and their families all the best and we cant wait to see you when our centres re-open.


Update 23 March 2020

Kia ora BestStart families

Further to this afternoon’s government announcements, today is the last day for all children to attend usual centre hours unless their parents are Essential Workers.  

From tomorrow and Wednesday only the children of Essential Workers can attend an early childhood centre or school (EG Health, Police, Fire, Supermarkets, Petrol Station, Food Manufacturing and Freight). A full list of Essential Workers will be provided shortly. Please be advised we have sent an email and text to all parents letting them know of this announcement.

At this stage we are planning on closing for four weeks.

For all parents - please make sure that we have your up to date contact details including phone and email.

As more information becomes available, we will keep parents advised via normal contact channels.

Please contact us at feedback@best-start.org or via Facebook, webchat, or your centre for more information.

I know that this is going to impact you and your family. We’re here to work together and look after one another as we navigate these unchartered waters.

He waka eke noa – We’re all in this together.

Tony Ryall

Chief Executive



Update 20 March

Dear BestStart Families

We’re sure that you, alongside the BestStart team, are watching the development of the coronavirus pandemic with feelings of concern and uncertainty.

Sending your child to your BestStart centre is even more important during this time. Children benefit from continuing with routines at times of uncertainty and stress. However, we do know that parents are concerned about their child’s health and well-being due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

At BestStart the health and safety of our staff and children is our top priority. Our centres already follow rigorous hygiene practices. Some of the things we are doing to keep children and teachers safe within our centres include:

  • Encouraging and demonstrating good hand washing practice to the children
  • Enhanced daily cleaning practices at centres with a focus on regular touch points
  • Our centres are cleaned daily with hospital grade cleaning products
  • Hand sanitiser is available in centres for parents, staff and children to use as they come and go.  Check with your centre team so you know where this is located
  • We have postponed all excursions for children where they would interact with members of the public or travel on public transport
  • Only essential visitors may come to our centres, enforcing social distancing by these adults in line with Government guidelines
  • We will enforce self-isolation measures as required by the government
  • If children are unwell, please keep them at home.  If teachers are unwell, we send them home.

COVID-19 is different from other diseases. We know children who contract the disease are likely to develop mild, if any, symptoms. This is a key reason why it’s safer to have children together than at home with adults. There is a risk that having children at home could mean they can pass the illness on to more vulnerable people (such as the elderly or the chronically ill), having them at their centre reduces the opportunity for this.  The Prime Minister has also echoed this point publicly.

Some parents may be thinking about using alternative types of care, especially those offered by friends and family. We want you to know all the facts to help you make the safest decision for the important people in your life – your children and your family. We’ll continue to do all we can to keep our centres open to offer high quality early learning in safe environments during this challenging time.

How You and Your Family Can Help

We all have a responsibility to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

  • Keep your children home if they are unwell
  • Inform us if you or your child have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case

·       Limit the number of people picking up your child to one at a time

·       Use the hand sanitisers available

·       Cover coughs and sneezes

·       Inform us if your child has a temperature of 38°C or above

·       Inform us if your child is unwell or showing symptoms of COVID-19 or if they are undergoing testing for COVID-19

·       Advise of any recent overseas travel

 Additional Resources to Support You and Your  Family

We’re All In This Together BestStart is working hard to ensure we do all we can to be able to continue to support your family and our centre teams during this challenging time. We will provide you with regular information. If you have any questions, please contact your Centre Manager or you can contact us at info@best-start.org or call 0508 BESTSTART for more information.

Tony Ryall, CNZM

Chief Executive, BestStart