Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
What has been your approach towards centre operations during the pandemic?
Our priority has been, and continues to be, ensuring the health and safety of our children and our staff. While some centres have been, and some even remain, closed throughout this time, others did not close at all and others were closed but are now open to support our families working on the front lines. Each step of the process has required careful vigilance with respect to hygiene, sanitation and operating procedures. We have been able to put into place a rigorous system of cleaning and sanitizing, accompanied by thorough handwashing practices. As well, we have adapted our routines and environments to facilitate physical distancing.
It is also important to us to support our children and families who now find themselves in a state of sheltering. We moved quickly to launch the ‘Learning at Home” initiative, in which activities targeting different developmental areas for each age group are being sent to families on a weekly basis. In addition, we initiated a YouTube platform to share virtual classes based on our current weekly curriculum for the toddler, preschool and pre-kindergarten age groups.
Furthermore, we have been providing specialized programming for children who required special support in with respect to speech and social/emotional development. Our goal has been to create a thoughtful balance between parent support and independent child engagement through easy to do activities at home with a multitude of outcomes for your children.
How have you adapted to the new measures for re-opening of the centres and what safety measures are in place?
We have reviewed re-opening guidelines from all our regional health authorities, and researched other practices, to create a comprehensive list of best practices to ensure the health and safety of our children and our staff. We have created multiple training documents showcasing these best practices to support our staff as we welcome back our families.
We have looked at all parts of our day, including routines, learning activities, mealtimes, transition times, and outside times, to reflect on adaptations we can make to ensure safe measures are in place. Our entire team has been, or will be, trained on the procedural changes and new operating measures prior to the centres re-opening.
What measures are in place for physical distancing?
We have adjusted the physical environment within our classrooms, the outdoor play areas and other parts of our centres to naturally encourage physical distancing. Popular learning centres have been replicated throughout classrooms to minimize areas of congestion. Smaller tables have been brought into classrooms to create additional opportunities for individual or small group interactions. These areas will also be supported with visual cues for the children to understand participation parameters.
We have also adjusted our routines to minimize group transitions. Traditional large group activities, such as circle-times, will be implemented in smaller group rotations. As well, our team of educators will move throughout the classroom to further engage your children in opportune learning moments.
We will transition children outside in smaller groups. Floor markings will be placed on the floors near our exits to cue children where to stand when small group line-ups do occur. Floor markings will also be placed near washrooms to minimize unavoidable congestion points.
The activities we implement throughout the day will have inherent physical distancing parameters. Dance, yoga and many other types of gross motor activities will be used to channel the joy of movement for the children while limiting close interactions. We will ensure children continue to experience joyful learning.
Our educators will also be provided with additional lounge space to ensure physical distancing can occur when they engage in break times.
How will children understand physical distancing?
We know children are naturally drawn to their peers and we do not want to discourage that tendency. We intend to redirect it when we can. We will use positive language and redirection consistently to help spread children out in play where they have naturally congregated.
We will place posters within the classroom highlighting the length of 2 metres. As well, we will use props such as hula hoops and pool noodles to add visual clarification. Our goal is to make this learning fun and engaging.
On top of the visual cues described above, we have also created age appropriate lesson plans for your children that reinforce what physical distancing means and why we need to do it. These lesson plans use an engaging circle format, with songs, special props, and stories to showcase what physical distancing means. We intend to ensure your children are aware, frontloaded and prepared for the changes within their childcare worlds right from the start.
Our team of educators will work with each of the children in their care to develop new personalized greetings to challenge your children to think creatively about new ways to connect.
What if my child just needs a hug?
While we recognize the necessity for physical distancing, we also recognize the necessity for those physical interactions aimed to support a child who may be hurt or upset, or just in need of a hug. We are not eliminating those moments. We will continue to look out for the emotional health and well-being of every child within our centres and will nurture them accordingly.
Our physical distancing strategies have been implemented to minimize close contact when possible, but not altogether.
Will drop-off and pick-up times look different for families?
They will look different. Family members will be asked to remain outside of the centre or within the confines of the centre lobby at each of these times. Tape markings will be placed on the ground to cue families on where to stand. A centre representative will assist each family member with a short screening process developed by their regional healthy authority, including a temperature check. We will also ask the family member to attest to the absence of symptoms. Children will not be able to attend the centre should any family member display any of the symptoms described within this screening.
As well, centre staff will bring children to their respective classrooms at the beginning of the day and back to their families at the end of the day to minimize any exposure from outside sources.
Individual centres that have historically had busy time periods at drop-off and pick-up will reach out to families to create a more staggered process.
Will staff be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves?
All staff will wear gloves during any feeding, diapering, and cleaning process. Gloves will be removed, hands will be washed, and new gloves will be applied for each new process.
Masks will be worn wherever temperature is taken for a child, parent, educator or visitor.
During times of required close physical proximity, such as diapering and feeding young children, we are recommending the use of a disposable gown, or a fabric barrier that can be laundered between uses.
Staff are not required to wear masks or gloves or other PPE during typical daily interactions, but some staff choose to do so. We are honouring their requests by having masks, gloves and aprons available. We will prepare the children for this change by using our classroom mascots and templates to ensure the change is not scary.
What if my child becomes ill while attending the centre?
In the event your child becomes ill while at the centre, they will be removed from their program and brought to a one-on-one room (isolated room). At that point, the supporting staff member will be required to wear gloves and a mask to minimize germ transfer, as well as maintain a two-metre separation. A parent or guardian will be contacted immediately and asked to pick their child up. Family members will be required to seek guidance from their regional healthy authority to determine testing protocols. As well, you will be asked to keep your children home until they have been symptom-free for a period of 14 days or have received negative test results. Depending on the province we may be required to inform our Health Services.
What additional cleaning and hygiene processes are now being implemented?
All high touch surfaces will be sanitized continuously.
Soft materials that cannot be easily cleaned have been removed from the classroom indefinitely. Materials that have been mouthed or contaminated in any way with bodily secretions will be removed from the program until they can be washed and sanitized. Materials that have been used by one group of children will be washed and sanitized before being used by the next group of children. Our team of educators will consistently rotate out toys to ensure a rich variety of play materials for your children. Despite these frequent cleaning requirements and other procedures, we will continue to provide robust learning opportunities for your children.
Additional handwashing requirements will be implemented for all children and staff. They will be expected to wash their hands upon arrival to the centre, after outside play, before and after eating, after toileting, after diapering, after cleaning, after wiping noses, and intermittently throughout the day to ensure vigilant practice. As well, educators will role model singing songs throughout the handwashing process to complete the 20 second timed guideline.
Careful attention will be maintained during all snack and mealtimes to eliminate cross-contamination of food items. All surfaces will be washed and sanitized thoroughly before and after mealtimes, and after usage all utensils/serving items will immediately be placed in a bin for washing and sanitizing.
Tissue boxes will continue to be available throughout the classroom to catch any sneezes and coughs. If using a Kleenex is not possible, children will be guide to sneeze into their elbow. Children will be supported to dispose of these tissues appropriately and guided to wash their hands.
Will my child be placed in the same program upon returning to the centre?
Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that your child will return to their previous classroom. This is due to the new regulations governing our group sizes and centre capacity, the anticipated gradual growth of our enrollment levels, and the gradual return of our beloved staff. However, we assure you that all measures are being taken to place your child in a comfortable classroom with familiar peers and educators. Furthermore, your child’s educators will change as little as possible to enhance learning and to minimize unnecessary risk from exposure to too many people. We will also implement primary care group systems within our younger age groups so that consistent educators will be feeding, diapering and assisting your child children at naptime.
Centre staff will reach out to family members, updating them of any changes to their child’s classroom.
How can I help support my child with the transition back to childcare?
We encourage you to begin talking about it to your child about their upcoming return to our care. In most cases, we’re sure your child is excited about seeing their friends and teachers again, and conversations should reflect on positive past experiences. These would include favourite moments with their teachers and peers. Reflecting on photos from your child’s electronic scrapbook would also be fun, as would beginning the countdown for their return.
Some children may exhibit apprehension about returning, and there are some books and rituals that you can use to ease some of this anxiety. Please reach out to your centre director for a list of resources.
Books to Foster Emotional Literacy and Resilience Preparing Children and Families for the Transition Back to Childcare:
- Come Along, Daisy by Jane Simmons
- Raccoon on His Own by Jim Arnosky
- The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
- I Love You All Day Long by Francesca Rusackas
- Bye Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick
- Llama, Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney
- Once I was Very, Very Scared by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
- Holdin Pott by Chandra Ghosh Ippen
Click here to download our Parents' Guide for Covid-19.
Our educators are also supporting your children through the use of visual schedules, story times that feature emotional literacy and resilience, and connection strategies that are personalized and joyful.
In addition, your centre director will provide communication regarding any changes within the centre. This is in addition to communication from your child’s teacher regarding how he or she is settling into the new childcare norm.
We will be doing all we can to nurture and support your children and your family throughout this transition.
Please reach out to your centre director for clarification regarding any of these details or anything else.
What other procedures or constraints will be in place?
- All non-essential visitors will not be permitted within our centres at this time.
- Families need to wait outside until attended by a centre representative.
- Parents require their temperature to be taken upon each visit.
- They need to complete a screening upon each drop-off.
- Expect that you cannot be visiting classrooms.
- Follow all procedural guidelines stated on our entrance posters.
- Enhanced sick policies based on your child being unwell.
- Daily washing of bedding and water bottles.