Windsor-Essex daycare operators scramble to reopen with less than three days’ notice
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Now that the province is allowing all daycares to reopen, regardless of what phase of recovery they are in, a Windsor operator is trying to figure out how to reopen by Friday.
“We’re up for the challenge,” says Anna Raymond, owner of the Toy Box in Windsor. “It is kind of a tight schedule to be able to open by Friday. Obviously we don't have to open if we're not ready for it.”
Raymond is familiar with at least some of the rules of operating during a pandemic, because her centre in Leamington is one of the Emergency Daycare for essential workers, a service the province will “wind down” on June 26.
“Obviously we want to service the frontline workers and that’s what they're saying, those people get priority spots,” says Raymond. “But how do we service the families we've had for years, the families that still need us?”
Ontario rolled out the new rules for daycares, which must be approved by their local health unit before children can come back:
- 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.
But that’s just the start of her work load, before reopening.
Raymond is already fielding phone calls from staff curious when they will be back to work.
“We ourselves have over 100 staff members on our team and being that you've.. cut the population of children in half, you don't necessarily need all the staff to come back, so that too leaves us in a bad position of who do you call back? Who don't you call back?” she adds.
Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce says they are “assuming” not all parents will send their children to daycare during a pandemic.
In that case he says “we will protect these parents by ensuring you do not lose your spot nor be charged during this period of time.”
And the government is increasing fines for non-compliance up to $1,000.
For anyone who loses their emergency daycare space when that program ends on June 26, the government says a “service system manager” will return the families “to their previous arrangement” or will help them find a new space.