OHSWEKEN — Child care providers on Six Nations say they are developing a strategy to re-open daycare and programming in a Phase 2 stage of pandemic restrictions that would reopen services in the community.
Provincial childcare programs announced a reopening plan on June 9.
The provincial framework offers strict health and safety protocols that must be in place before local centres can reopen.
However, operators and advocates say there is no way most can implement a host of new COVID-19-era rules to open with just a few days’ notice.
Many centres are also likely to face financial challenges, they say, operating at reduced capacity and with long-promised government funding not yet flowing and no indication of more to come.
In an emailed statement to TRT, Six Nations Early Years and Child Care Services says they are “working on a recovery plan to meet the strict operational requirements to provide a healthy safe environment, while having the wellbeing of our children retuning in the forefront of the new norm.”
Officials say the Early Years and Child Care service providers in the community have not determined a date of reopening, and that when Phase 2 reopening measures do take effect there will be limited childcare spaces available.
Local medical officers of health can set their own timelines for reopening child-care centres in their regions.
Operators have to give documentation to the province confirming they have developed and reviewed enhanced health and safety protocols with staff, and made that available to parents two days before planned reopening.
Among the new rules are increased cleaning, screening all staff and children for symptoms prior to entry, barring visitors from the centre — including parents except in emergencies — using blankets while holding infants and toddlers, and removing toys made of material that can’t be cleaned and disinfected, as well as communal water tables and sensory tables.
Operators will also be required to limit the number of kids and staff in a defined space to 10 people, and existing legal requirements for ratios of children to staff will remain in place.