On June 9th, 2020 the provincial government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province to support Ontario as it enters stage 2 of reopening. All childcare centres in the province will be able to reopen this Friday, June 12th, but will be required to follow strict health protocols to ensure the safety of staff and children.
The safety requirements are similar to the guidelines already seen for the emergency child care centres that have been allowed to remain open through the pandemic. The plan imposes strict requirements on operators, including mandatory training, reporting and support from the local medical officer of health prior to reopening.
Centres reopening in Stage 2 will be required to adopt specific rules including:
- Cohorting ? putting children and staff in groups of 10 or fewer;
- COVID-19 response plan ? all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member is exposed to COVID-19;
- Screening ? all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting. Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
- Daily attendance records ? child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
- Cleaning ? child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
- No visitors ? only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
- Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
Effective immediately, staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening. Once operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines required, they will be allowed to reopen. Health and safety guidance for employers of child care centres can be found here.
As all licensed child care centers are permitted to open province-wide, emergency childcare will wind down, beginning June 26, 2020. Families served through emergency child care will be supported by service system managers to either return to their previous arrangement or find a new space. If families are not offered access to their previous child care arrangements, operators will be prevented from charging fees for these spaces. Additionally, families who do not feel comfortable sending their child to a centre will not lose their spot or pay a fee.
The Ontario government stated that it does not have any plans for any future funding programs to assist child care centres with the additional cost of implementing safety measures or operating at a reduced capacity. The government did state that the existing child care funding formula will be leveraged to support enhanced cleaning cost and health and safety requirements. Families, however, will receive support from Ontario from the Support for Families program that provides a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs up to 21 years of age.
Given the lack of specifics around (additional) funding and the operational challenges posed by the suggestions for new protocols, this course of action clearly generates as many – if not more – questions as answers with regard to what re-opening will actually look like. This is especially true given that the Ministry of Education sent a letter to daycares late last night in which they state:
Licensed child care programs will be required to notify their Ministry of Education Program Advisor prior to their planned re-opening date and provide a copy of any policies or protocols they have developed setting out their enhanced health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19. We will provide more information on this notification process shortly.
Join us today as we discuss the various implications and alternatives in our complimentary webinar: What Childcare Operators Need to Know Going Forward During COVID-19: The Impact of ESA Regulation 288/20 on Temporary Lay-offs/Terminations and Related Considerations for Reopening
If you can't make today's webinar, remember that the lawyers at CCPartners are always available to assist you in planning for the return of your workforce to ensure that you are prepared to operate safely and to help ensure that you meet all of your obligations. Click HERE for a link to CCP's COVID-19 Blog series, catch our webinars and podcasts on YouTube and SoundCloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or contact any of our team members to answer you workplace questions.
Originally published 10 June 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.