COVID Measures for Children's Programs
COVID-19 RE-OPENING MEASURES FOR CHILDREN’S PROGRAMS
As the Province of Ontario is beginning to re-open in the next couple of weeks some measures should be taken for children’s programs and childcare centers. COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that can be transmitted through droplets of saliva when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. The virus can also be transmitted through hard surfaces especially those that are frequently touched. It is recommended that new procedures are put in place for Children’s Programs to reduce the risk of transmission.
It is recommended that children and parents be screened upon arrival. Children, in particular, should be monitored closely for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Designated staff should be placed in charge of screening while maintaining the appropriate precautions including standing at least 6 feet from those being screened and wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Screening procedures should include having temperature taken using a thermometer, forehead scan or ear scan and a visual screen looking for any noticeable physical symptoms. An individual will present with a fever if their temperature check reads ~38 degrees Celsius (100.4 F) and above.
Sign-In / Sign-Out Process
To ensure social distancing, guidelines for signing-in and signing-out should be revised. If possible, move sign-out procedures outside with a designated staff wearing PPE handing off the children to their parents. If outside is not possible, allocated a check-out spot near the exit. Staggering the timing of drop-off and pick-up will reduce the risk of crowding. Children's Programs should consider enabling digital or online sign-in/sign-out procedures on parents’ devices to limit the amount of exposure for staff. As technology advances, for example, many childcare programs are switching to online platforms. Online platforms, like Dreamschools, provide easier access for parents and allow for contact-free engagement with parents. If you’re interested in digitizing your childcare or children's program online, then consider becoming a Partner with Dreamschools.
Rigid Cleaning Policies
The frequency of sterilization and sanitization should be increased to reduce cross-contamination between surfaces. All toys and equipment used by children should be made of a material that can be easily disinfected, avoid plush toys and costumes. Frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs and light switches, must be disinfected at least twice a day. Another important element is performing proper hand hygiene and incorporating more opportunity for handwashing into the daily schedule. Encouraging healthy personal hygiene habits should be stressed to all individuals involved. To learn more about ways that ensure cleanliness, read our other blog on Preventing Illness in Your Childcare Center.
Classroom / Playspace Procedures
Children should be encouraged to maintain distance between themselves and other children. One way to accomplish this is to use tape to create lines and squares that encourage distancing. Limit sharing food between children as sharing food can increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. Parents should be encouraged to label and pack their children’s meals/snacks. If meals/snacks are provided make sure that each child has their portion.
There will be a lot of changes that will occur and should be communicated to families and parents attending your program. Parents should be well informed of your changes at least 2 weeks prior to the start of your program. Consider sending an email or creating a ‘handbook’ that highlights all the changes you are implementing in light of COVID-19 and how they can do their part to minimize spread. When doing so, make sure to mention key items like new cleaning policies, social distancing rules and screening checks. Advise parents to keep their children home if they are feeling ill for the safety of others at your program. Have protocols in place to notify parents if their child shows symptoms of COVID-19 while at your childcare program, including immediately having the child separated and picked up.
If your childcare program offers in-person tours, consider switching to virtual tours where parents can view your amenities on a website or mobile application. Limit the number of individuals who enter your location to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. These procedures are all suggestions for your children / kid programs & activities.
Guidelines for Ontario Childcare Centres:
Here are the basic requirements child-care centres need to put in place. Read below for the detailed guidelines sent to child-care centres this week.
• Children and staff will be limited to groups of 10 or fewer.
• All children and staff must be screened for symptoms daily.
• Thorough cleaning of the centre before opening and during the day.
• The removal of toys that are likely to spread germs.
• Requirement for a COVID-19 response plan if a staff member or child is exposed to the virus.
• Permitting only "essential" visitors.
• Pick-up and drop-off protocols that allow for physical distancing.
For detailed guidelines for childcare operators in Ontario, please read the link from the Ministry of Education: http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/childcare/child-care-re-opening-operational-guidance.pdf .