COVID-19 Child Care Centre Case and Outbreak Communication Protocol

Updated 2021/08/23

Parents and staff will have an interest in knowing when a COVID-19 positive case has been identified in their child care centre. Caution must be used to inform the public while ensuring the identity of the child or staff member that has received a positive COVID-19 test is protected.

As outlined in the Ontario government's document Operational Guidance for Child Care During COVID-19 Outbreak, all child care centres have a duty to report a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 to their local health unit and the ministry.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 that involve a child or a staff member in a child care centre will be posted by the Ministry of Education.

Steps when a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19

  1. Confirmed case(s) is(are) reported to the local PHU.
  2. PHU staff contacts child care centre to retrieve records, including:
    • Attendance records
    • Group/cohort lists
    • Before and after school child care lists (if applicable)
    • Current contact information for children and staff
    • Special assignment programs/activities
    • Record of essential visitors

      NOTE: These lists are to be given to Public Health within a timely manner. They will be used to assist in identifying high risk, low risk and no risk exposures.
  3. Upon assessment, PHU informs child care centre(s) of the staff/children that are high and low risk exposures, as well as staff and children who are not at risk.
  4. Child care centre uses internal communication channels to inform parents and staff using Health Unit template letters. The local PHU will provide the child care operator with the letters and identify which child(ren)/staff are to receive them.
    • Where a confirmed case of COVID-19 is a potential source of exposure to others in a child care centre, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) acts accordingly to notify those at risk of exposure. There may be variations in the delivery of notifications from case to case depending on the circumstances of the case in question. Where there is no risk of exposure, notification is not required.

  5.  If a group or child care centre is required to be closed based on PHU assessment, parents and staff will be notified immediately. The local PHU will provide the child care centre operator with a notice for circulation to the children/staff impacted.

*An outbreak in a child care centre is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in children and/or staff in a child care centre with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the child care centre (including before or after school care).

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario