COVID-19 - Niagara is under a provincewide stay-at-home order. Learn about the COVID-19 vaccination and service disruptions.

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 to help curb the spread of COVID-19. Families are invited to participate in virtual programming offered by the centres on Facebook.

Report COVID-19 cases

Childcare facilities are responsible for reporting suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases to Public Health.

Report a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case

To report suspected cases, call the COVID-19 Info-Line. A suspected case is someone who has COVID-19 symptoms AND an exposure. An exposure is:

  • Travel outside of Canada in the last 14 days
  • Exposure to a known case in the last 14 days

COVID-19 Info-Line

Talk to a public health professional Monday to Friday, 9:15 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.

Child Care Questions

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

Symptoms and 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 needed for a child to stay home for a period of time and seek medical advice.

Learn about screening for symptoms, next steps, and when children can return to child care / school.

Enhanced health and safety measures

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

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.

More information

  • When to contact Public Health

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

    • To report lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases, call Niagara Region Public Health at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074, press 7 or report cases online
    • To report suspected cases, call Niagara Region Public Health at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074, press 7. Don't report suspected cases online.

    A suspected case is someone who has COVID-19 symptoms AND an exposure. An exposure is:

    • Travel outside of Canada in the last 14 days
    • 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, in the same child care room, 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
    • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days
    • 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 and surveillance testing

    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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