All child care centres in Ontario can reopen on Friday with “strict capacity limits and more cleaning and screening” measures.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement from Queen’s Park on Tuesday.
“As we prepare to reopen more businesses and services, it is critical that we ensure supports are in place so people can return to work knowing their children will be cared for in a safe and healthy environment,” Premier Ford said.
“Our child care plan sets out strict protocols that must be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have made great progress to contain the virus, but we must be mindful that there is still a public health risk,” Ford said.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the strict health and safety requirements for child care were developed in tandem with Sick Kids hospital.
- Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
- COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider 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.
The province will stop giving frontline workers free emergency child care on June 26.
Lecce says those frontline workers will have “first preference” on spaces. He believes a lot of parents won’t send their children to child care centres yet, so he thinks there will be enough capacity even with reduced availability.
Parents who choose to keep their kids at home will have their spots protected by the province and any fees won’t be applied.
Lecce said the plan imposes strict requirements on operators.
“It involves mandatory training and reporting and support from the local medical officer of health before centres can reopen,” Lecce said.
The province is also allowing summer day camp programs to reopen this summer.
Premier Ford said the decision is based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
“There will be strict health and safety protocols in place,” Ford said.
Overnight camps are still not permitted to operate this summer.
Meanwhile, Ford said he’s confident the rest of the province will get to Stage 2 of its phased reopening plan “very soon.”
Ford announced on Monday that the second stage of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening would start on Friday.
It’s a regional reopening plan with some areas allowed to reopen restaurant patios, hair salons and pools. The Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas were not permitted to enter the next phase.
Ontario reported 230 additional cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a second straight day with fewer than 250 new daily cases.