(Image: Mitchell Squire/Private Media)

The dreaded phone call came sooner than I expected.

It was January 6, and I was at the beach on a much-anticipated holiday when I got the message that a COVID-19 case had been detected at one of our largest early childhood education and care services in Canberra.

What followed was a chaotic and stressful period of rapid response. Me and my incredible team leapt into action: calling the regulator; then the ACT government; then notifying parents and educators; creating a spreadsheet of contacts for ACT Health; coordinating the service closure and COVID clean; supporting staff with their isolation; notifying other organisations that share a building with the service... The list went on.