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Child Care Centres During COVID-19

Child Care is Open

Learn how Ontario will keep children, parents and staff safe

Provincial guidelines

Child care centres are open with enhanced health and safety measures in place.
  • Licensed child care centres, including centres in First Nations communities, can operate at full capacity
  • Before and after school programs for school aged children can operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements

EarlyON Child and Family Centres remain closed as part of provincially mandated actions to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Families are invited to participate in virtual programming offered by their local EarlyON Child and Family Centres on Facebook.

Before reopening

As part of the enhanced health and safety measures for reopening, licensees are required to:

  • Develop and review policies and procedures on enhanced health and safety protocols with staff and home child care providers
  • Submit an Attestation Form to the Ministry confirming that enhanced health and safety protocols are in place
  • Submit any policies or protocols developed on enhanced health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19 to Niagara Region Children's Services two days before submitting the Attestation Form
  • Provide at least two days notice of their reopening

Before they reopen, all child care centres, before and after school programs, and EarlyON Child and Family Centres, and First Nation Child and Family Programs must:

  • Meet all enhanced health and safety requirements
  • Meet all operational requirements set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act 2014 (CCEYA). For example, make sure all existing staff to child ratios are maintained.
  • Make sure staff are trained on the new measures and protocols. Although licensed home child care providers have been able to stay open, they must also adhere to these enhanced health and safety requirements.

Review our Child Care Manual (Fifth Edition) for requirements that must be met in child care facilities to ensure the individuals who use them stay safe and healthy.

COVID-19 Info-Line

Talk to a public health professional Monday to Friday, 9:15 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9:15 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.

Screening for COVID-19

Active screening is the best line of defence for preventing COVID-19 in school or child care.

The Ontario Ministry of Health has updated the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool, mainly the type and number of symptoms needed for a child to stay home for a period of time and seek medical advice. Learn about symptoms and next steps.

For more information, see our frequently asked questions about COVID-19.

Child Care Questions

For questions about child care and financial assistance, connect with a Children's Services staff member.

Return to child care or school

People who need an assessment for testing based on their symptom(s) are not permitted to return to school, child care, or go to any public setting until one of the following criteria is met:

  • A health care provider has advised that a test for COVID-19 is not indicated AND they have been symptom free for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medications, such as Ibuprofen / Advil, Acetaminophen / Tylenol, OR it has been 10 days since symptom onset (whichever is shorter).
  • If the health care professional determines the individual's symptoms are something other than COVID-19, they are to remain at home until 24 hours after symptoms go away completely, OR 10 days after symptom onset (whichever is shorter).
  • Test was negative for COVID-19 AND it has been 24 hours since symptoms have gone away completely, OR 10 days after symptoms started (whichever is shorter)
  • Completion of 10 days self-isolation since the day the symptoms began. This includes individuals who test positive and those who have chosen not to be tested
  • Positive infected persons are to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days after the positive infected person's symptoms started, or as directed by Public Health
  • Household members of symptomatic children going for testing should self-isolate
  • For children with only one group 2 symptom, meaning they don't necessarily need a test or health care assessment, testing is still encouraged, but isn't required

Failed screens, absences, and every serious occurrence report don't need to be reported to Niagara Region Public Health.

Reporting

  • When to contact Public Health

    This policy overrides the Operational Guidance During Covid-19 Outbreak Child Care Reopening Guidelines for reporting suspect cases.

    Call Niagara Region Public Health to report confirmed COVID-19 cases.

    Call Niagara Region Public Health to report suspect cases proactively (before test results are back) if staff or children are symptomatic (have symptoms) AND they have had exposure.

    An exposure is:

    • Symptoms and travel outside of Canada in the last 14 days
    • Symptoms and exposure to a known case in the last 14 days

    Don't report staff or children who are symptomatic and going for testing without any known exposure even if a serious occurrence report is completed.

    Call Public Health when you suspect an outbreak. As per the Child Care Manual, an outbreak may be in effect when there are two or more children or staff, who attend the same child care setting, with similar signs and symptoms that:

    • Occur within 48 hours in the centre, or
    • When the number of ill staff / children exceeds what is normal in the child care centre within a short period of time
  • Others who cannot enter child care centres

    In addition to a failed screen, exclusion from child care applies to those who:

    • Reside with anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 AND a decision has been made by the family or health care provider that a child will be referred for testing
    • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19
    • Have travelled outside of Canada. They must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
  • Children or staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in a child care centre

    Any child or staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19:

    • Should be isolated in a separate room and family members contacted for pick up
    • Should return home and follow the steps outlined in our screening for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Outbreaks

    An outbreak may be declared by Public Health when, within a 14-day period, there are two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in children, staff / providers or other visitors with an epidemiological link where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the child care setting. Examples of an epidemiological link include cases in the same room or cases that are part of the same before / after school care cohort.

    Surveillance testing

    • If a parent / guardian is tested for COVID-19 as part of surveillance testing by the employer and is asymptomatic (has no symptoms), they may continue to bring their child to the child care centre / home child care program while waiting for the outcome of the test
    • If the home child care provider and / or any resident of the home is tested for COVID-19 as part of surveillance testing by the employer, and is asymptomatic (has no symptoms), home child care may continue in the home child care premise while waiting for outcome of the test

    Individuals who have no symptoms, went for testing, have no exposure, are awaiting results, and haven't been told by Niagara Region Public Health to isolate, don't need to be excluded from child care.

    Refer to the Province of Ontario to review COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres. This page is updated every weekday at 10:30 a.m. by the Province with the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies.

  • Serious occurrence reporting

    Previously, licensees were required to report all suspected cases of COVID-19 to the ministry. Currently, licensees only need to report the following as a serious occurrence to the ministry:

    • When a child, staff, student, home child care provider, home child care visitor or a person who is ordinarily a resident or regularly present at a home child care premises has a confirmed case of COVID-19, such as a positive COVID-19 test result

    Regulatory changes to O. Reg. 137/15 have been made under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, including serious occurrence reporting of confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

    Don't notify Public Health for every serious occurrence report unless it meets the criteria under 'When to contact Public Health'.

    A serious occurrence report must be submitted under the category suspected / confirmed case of COVID-19 when one of the following individuals has a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR a suspected case involving the individual showing one or more symptoms AND the individual has been tested, or has indicated that they will be tested for COVID-19

    • A child who receives child care at a home child care premises or child care centre
    • A home child care provider
    • A person who is ordinarily a resident of a home child care premises, such as the home provider's child or spouse. For a complete definition, refer to the Home Child Care Licensing Manual.
    • A person who is regularly at a home child care premises, such as the home provider's friend who visits the premises once a week. For a complete definition, refer to the Home Child Care Licensing Manual.
    • A home child care visitor
    • A parent of a child mentioned in sub clause (i.)
    • A staff member at a child care centre 
    • A student at a home child care premises or child care centre

    When a serious occurrence is reported for a suspected case (as defined above) and the individual's test results are positive, licensees must update the original serious occurrence report submitted and add this information.

    If a second individual develops a suspected or confirmed case, and there is still an open serious occurrence report, licensees must update the existing / open serious occurrence report to add this information. A new serious occurrence isn't required when there's an existing report.

    However, where a second individual develops a suspected or confirmed case and there isn't an open serious occurrence report under this category, the licensee must submit a new report. 

    Should the entire child care centre, part of the child care, such as a program room, or a home child care provider's home close due to a "confirmed or suspected case", a separate serious occurrence for an unplanned disruption of service isn't required. Licensees must include this information in the serious occurrence report and / or update the serious occurrence report when the closure occurs.

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