Reopening Child Care Centres During COVID-19

Child Care Reopens in September

Learn how Ontario will keep children, parents and staff safe as programs reopen

Provincial guidelines to reopen centres

Child care centres are reopening with enhanced health and safety measures in place.
  • Licensed child care centres, including centres in First Nations communities, can operate at full capacity
  • Before and after school programs for school aged children can operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements

EarlyON Child and Family Centres will remain closed to allow for planning that ensures the health and safety of children, families and staff upon reopening.

Before Reopening

As part of the enhanced health and safety measures for reopening, licensees are required to:

  • Develop and review policies and procedures on enhanced health and safety protocols with staff and home child care providers
  • Submit an Attestation Form to the Ministry confirming that enhanced health and safety protocols are in place
  • Submit any policies or protocols developed on enhanced health and safety protocols in response to COVID-19 to Niagara Region Children's Services two days before submitting the Attestation Form
  • Provide at least two days notice of their reopening

Before they reopen, all child care centres, before and after school programs, and EarlyON Child and Family Centres, and First Nation Child and Family Programs must:

  • Meet all enhanced health and safety requirements
  • Meet all operational requirements set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act 2014 (CCEYA). For example, make sure all existing staff to child ratios are maintained.
  • Make sure staff are trained on the new measures and protocols. Although licensed home child care providers have been able to stay open, they must also adhere to these enhanced health and safety requirements.

Review our Child Care Manual (Fifth Edition) for requirements that must be met in child care facilities to ensure the individuals who use them stay safe and healthy.

COVID-19 Info-Line

For more information, call the Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or toll-free at 1-888-505-6074, press 7, then:

  • Press 2 if you're a parent or guardian
  • Press 4 if you're an educator, principal, school board representative, or other child care staff member
  • Or chat online in 90 different languages with auto-translate to a health professional
  • Or email Healthy Schools

Child Care Questions

For questions about child care and financial assistance, connect with a Children's Services staff member.

Screening for COVID-19

After completing the Health Screening Checklist, individuals that show any COVID-19 symptom(s), even if symptom(s) resemble a mild cold, won't be accepted into the child care centre.

When symptom(s) are present, individuals have the following options:

  • Contact your health care provider for an assessment
  • Call Niagara Health at 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 and self-refer for testing
  • Contact the Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 Info-Line for an assessment at 905-688-8248 or toll-free at 1-888-505-6074

Exclusion from Child Care Centres and Testing

Failed screens, absences, and every serious occurrence report don't need to be reported to Niagara Region Public Health.

  • When to contact Public Health

    This policy overrides the Operational Guidance During Covid-19 Outbreak Child Care Reopening Guidelines for reporting suspect cases.

    Call Niagara Region Public Health to report confirmed COVID-19 cases.

    Call Niagara Region Public Health to report suspect cases proactively (before test results are back) if staff or children are symptomatic (have symptoms) AND they have had exposure.

    An exposure is:

    • Symptoms and travel outside of Canada in the last 14 days
    • Symptoms and exposure to a known case in the last 14 days

    Don't report staff or children who are symptomatic and going for testing without any known exposure even if a serious occurrence report is completed.

    Call Public Health when you suspect an outbreak. As per the Child Care Manual, an outbreak may be in effect when there are two or more children or staff, who are connected in the same child care setting, with similar signs and symptoms that:

    • Occur within 48 hours in the centre, or
    • When the number of ill staff / children exceeds what is normal in the child care centre within a short period of time
  • Who cannot enter child care centres

    In addition to a failed screen, exclusion from child care applies to those who:

    • Reside with anyone who shows symptoms of COVID-19 AND a decision has been made by the family or health care provider that a child will be referred for testing
    • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19
    • Have travelled outside of Canada. They must self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.

    Individuals aren't permitted to return to the child care setting until one of the following criteria is met:

    • Clearance from their health care provider. A note isn't recommended.
    • Completion of 14 day self-isolation and symptom-free before returning. This includes:
      • Children who are symptomatic and recommended for testing, but testing was declined, OR
      • Families who refused to see a health care provider

    Negative COVID-19 test results

    Individuals who receive a negative test result must not enter a child care centre until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.

    Positive test results

    Individuals who receive a positive test must not enter a child care centre until the 14-day isolation criteria, as directed by Public Health has been completed, fever has gone away, and the individual has been consistently improving over the previous 72 hours.

  • Children or staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while in a child care centre

    Any child or staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19:

    • Should be isolated in a separate room and family members contacted for pick up
    • Contact a health care provider for medical assessment
    • Siblings with no symptoms may stay in child care / school until the child with symptoms is assessed by a health care provider and recommendations are provided for testing or an alternate diagnosis is obtained

    If a decision is made for testing, all siblings and family members are to remain home. If an alternate diagnosis is obtained, the child with no symptoms can stay in school.

    These procedures also apply to home child care providers and / or any residents of the home, and will result in temporary closure. For example, a spouse of a home child care provider that has symptoms.

    Individuals returning to the child care centre or home child care program with a negative COVID-19 result or health care provider note from a previous day doesn't exempt them from completing the entire screening tool successfully on the day of return to the program and every day after that.

  • Outbreaks

    A single, symptomatic (person with symptoms), laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member, home child care provider or child, may be considered a COVID-19 outbreak. Public Health will provide direction and support.

    Surveillance testing

    • If a parent / guardian is tested for COVID-19 as part of surveillance testing by the employer and is asymptomatic (has no symptoms), they may continue to bring their child to the child care centre / home child care program while waiting for the outcome of the test
    • If the home child care provider and / or any resident of the home is tested for COVID-19 as part of surveillance testing by the employer, and is asymptomatic (has no symptoms), home child care may continue in the home child care premise while waiting for outcome of the test

    Individuals who have no symptoms, went for testing, have no exposure, are awaiting results, and haven't been told by Niagara Region Public Health to isolate, don't need to be excluded from child care.

    Refer to the Province of Ontario to review COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres. This page is updated every weekday at 10:30 a.m. by the Province with the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies.

  • Serious occurrence reporting

    Regulatory changes to O. Reg. 137/15 have been made under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, including serious occurrence reporting of confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

    Don't notify Public Health for every serious occurrence report unless it meets the criteria under 'When to contact Public Health'.

    A serious occurrence report must be submitted under the category suspected / confirmed case of COVID-19 when one of the following individuals has a confirmed case of COVID-19 OR a suspected case involving the individual showing one or more symptoms AND the individual has been tested, or has indicated that they will be tested for COVID-19

    • A child who receives child care at a home child care premises or child care centre
    • A home child care provider
    • A person who is ordinarily a resident of a home child care premises, such as the home provider's child or spouse. For a complete definition, refer to the Home Child Care Licensing Manual.
    • A person who is regularly at a home child care premises, such as the home provider's friend who visits the premises once a week. For a complete definition, refer to the Home Child Care Licensing Manual.
    • A home child care visitor
    • A parent of a child mentioned in sub clause (i.)
    • A staff member at a child care centre 
    • A student at a home child care premises or child care centre

    When a serious occurrence is reported for a suspected case (as defined above) and the individual's test results are positive, licensees must update the original serious occurrence report submitted and add this information.

    If a second individual develops a suspected or confirmed case, and there is still an open serious occurrence report, licensees must update the existing / open serious occurrence report to add this information. A new serious occurrence isn't required when there's an existing report.

    However, where a second individual develops a suspected or confirmed case and there isn't an open serious occurrence report under this category, the licensee must submit a new report. 

    Should the entire child care centre, part of the child care, such as a program room, or a home child care provider's home close due to a "confirmed or suspected case", a separate serious occurrence for an unplanned disruption of service isn't required. Licensees must include this information in the serious occurrence report and / or update the serious occurrence report when the closure occurs.

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