Ontario Finally Allows Childcare Centres to Reopen
The Ontario government, on June 9th, 2020 announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province.
According to the plan, all childcare centres in the province were allowed to restart operations on Friday, June 12th, but were required to follow stringent health protocols to ensure the well-being of staff and especially children.
Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott, and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce recently made this plan known at a press conference, noting that centres will run at limited capacity, among other very strict cleaning and screening processes.
“I want parents to know we will take every measure necessary to ensure the safety of their children,” Ford said at the press conference.
According to Mondaq, some measures to be enforced by the reopening centres include:
- Putting children and staff in groups of 10 or fewer.
- Having a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member is exposed to COVID-19.
- Screening all staff and children prior to entry to the child care setting and asking anyone feeling unwell to stay home.
- Keeping daily attendance records to support contact tracing.
- Thorough and frequent cleaning of child care settings before and after use.
- Permitting only essential visitors’ entry into the child care setting.
- Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, quoted on TRNTO, stated that the provincial government will be conducting inspections and any centre found in violation of these guidelines could be fined up to $1,000 per child per day.
“This plan was reviewed by the best public health and medical minds in Ontario, including doctors at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto,” Lecce said at the press conference.
This development could not have come at a better time for working parents as child care restrictions had prevented many parents from going back to work as the economy began to reopen.
“If I were to be travelling to the stores and my husband is left at home with the two kids all throughout the day, then he can’t get his work done,” Jill Holancin, a retail district manager said in May, quoted on CTV News.
“It’s scary. Neither of us wants to lose our jobs during a pandemic.”
Many other parents, however, appear hesitant to drop off their children at daycare centres amidst the pandemic, insisting that Ontario's child-care reopening scheme is flawed.
"I feel like the ball has been dropped," said Patrick Wong, a stay at home dad quoted on CBC, who complained about the lack of funding and strategy in the province's sudden decision to reopendaycares.
"The daycare contacted us and they said that they were unable to open up within the next month and they're going to try and approach it in a safe manner," said Wong.
"It's great that someone's actually taken responsibility in taking care of things."
Whatever the case, one cannot ignore the advantages of having kids socialize with their peers, after several months of being at home; hopefully, the safety measures put in place proves to be sufficient to ensure their wellbeing.
“Having children safely re-engage in learning, play and social activities with other children is of great benefit to their mental, emotional and behavioural development,” Dr. Ronald Cohn, President, and CEO of The Hospital for Sick Children said in a press release.