Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to allow licensed child care centres across Ontario to open at full capacity starting September 1, 2020. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table. As a result, parents will be able to return to work knowing their children are in a safe and supportive care setting.
EarlyON Child and Family Centres will also be permitted to reopen with in-person programming along with before- and after-school programs for school aged children which will be permitted to operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements. All of these programs will be subject to health and safety protocols in order to keep kids safe.
“Our government is gradually and safely supporting child care expansion to ensure moms and dads across the province can return to work with confidence,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We will continue to ensure strict health and safety protocols remain in place, to keep our youngest learners safe.”
The Ministry of Education will continue to work closely with municipal service managers, First Nations, and childcare operators to maximize capacity and access for families over the coming weeks. This includes revised health and safety operational guidance, additional funding parameters, and direction on providing notice to parents for placements. Licensees will continue to be required to maintain ratios and group sizes as set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA).
The government will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table to ensure the health and safety of the children and staff is never compromised as childcare capacity expands to 100%. The enhanced health and safety procedures that were put in place as part of our re-opening plan, will remain in place, and in some instances strengthened, to protect children, staff and families, including:
- Requiring all child care staff to wear masks at all times, effective September 1;
- Ensuring frequent cleaning of child care centres;
- Screening of children and staff before entering a childcare facility;
- Maintaining attendance records for rigorous contact tracing and coordination with local public health authorities;
- Ensuring frequent hand washing and proper hand hygiene for children and staff; and
- Establishing clear and rigid case management protocols in the event a staff member or child becomes ill, or tests positive for COVID-19.
“Our commitment to the health and safety of the children and staff, will never waver,” continued Minister Lecce. “Child care and early years programs will operate with additional health and safety procedures in place upon fully reopening. And rest assured, if at any time the health and safety of the children is jeopardized, we will take action immediately.”
Ontario will also provide additional funding, with support from the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement, to help child care operators and EarlyON Child and Family Centres purchase cleaning supplies, PPE and support staffing needs related to new procedures.
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