Additional COVID-19 Protective Measures in Child Care Settings
Child Care licensees are expected to employ multiple strategies and a layering of controls to support healthier and safer environments for children and staff as detailed below. There is not one specific measure that will prevent COVID-19 transmission from occurring in child care settings, but rather there are multiple structural and individual elements that contribute to making child care spaces healthier and reduce the risk of infection to in-person attendees.
Each of the control measures provides some benefit in reducing spread. However, it is the combination and consistent application of these layered controls as a bundle that is most effective for reducing disease spread in child care (Operational Guidance for Child Care During COVID-19 Outbreak – Version 7, August 2021 (Ministry of Education; page 11).)
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) has developed recommendations for additional COVID-19 protective measures for child care settings. The recommendations endeavor to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission within the child care setting. EOHU is monitoring and is concerned by the current local incidence of COVID-19, particularly given the preponderance of the Delta variant of concern. As such, EOHU is taking a cautious approach and will continue to assess the need for these and other protective measures as the year progresses.
EOHU recognizes that in addition to widespread uptake of COVID-19 vaccination, the best way to keep child care centres open is to minimize the introduction and spread of COVID-19 within the child care setting. Reducing interactions between cohorts is expected to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread between cohorts and reduce the number of individuals dismissed as high-risk contacts if COVID-19 is introduced. In addition, masking and physical distancing between individuals continue to play central roles in transmission risk reduction. As much as possible, these recommendations allow for resumption of activities while minimizing the risk of transmission between and within cohorts.
- All visitors entering the child care centre must wear a medical mask.
- Masking is STRONGLY recommended for JK/SK students.
- Educators must wear eye protection if there is an unmasked child in the group even if the child is wearing a visor.
- Parents can enter the child care centre to drop off or pick up their children (while observing and following public health guidelines – masks, hand hygiene and COVID screening) Parents are not considered visitors and do not need to wear a medical mask to enter the facility, a cloth mask is sufficient as their stay at the child care centre is brief.
NOTE: EXCEPTION for parents with mask exemptions: Parents with mask exemptions should not be entering the child care centre. Parents will need to complete the drop off and pick up outside.
BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS:
- Parents should drop off and pick up their children outside. (With the exception of a special needs child)
CLEANING AND DISINFECTING
- The new Ministry of Education guidelines focus on hand hygiene for shared items (toys, supplies, etc.) instead of cleaning and disinfecting between cohorts. However, cleaning and disinfecting remains an important step. Toys/shared items should be cleaned at minimum once a day. This includes dress up clothes etc. NOTE: mouthed toys should not be shared and must be removed after use to be cleaned and disinfected.
- High touch surfaces recommendations remain the same (minimum twice daily and more if visibly soiled)
- Sensory bins are allowed with focus on hand hygiene before and after use of the sensory bins. Toys must be cleaned at end of the day and when visibly soiled.
COHORTS AND MIXING
- Absolutely no mixing of cohorts at the beginning and end of day.
- Cohorts should not mix outside.
FIELD TRIPS (municipal parks, community walk, etc.)
- Field trips are permitted if they remain within their own cohort and focus on hand hygiene.
- Masks are not required outside. However, if a staff requires to help a child and is within the 2-meter distance a mask should be worn for their protection. Hand hygiene should be performed before and after removing the mask.
SHOW AND TELL
- Children can bring items at child care for show and tell. But the item shouldn’t be shared with others and focus on hand hygiene.