Ontario issues new COVID-19 child care guidance, centres seek clarity


TORONTO — Ontario is sending updated guidance on COVID-19 protocols to child-care centres, including allowing singing indoors and letting visitors in the centres.

The updated guidance follows calls from parents and operators for the government to review some of the rules that were brought in last summer when centres reopened, and brings some rules in line with Ontario’s recently announced back-to-school plan.

The guidance says that because the risk of surface transmission of the virus is low, the focus should be on hand washing rather than having to clean a shared toy between each child who uses it, and that group sensory materials — such as water tables — are allowed.

It says that staff can now move between locations and age groups, though it’s still not encouraged, and staff don’t have to wear masks outside or face shields when working with kids in Grade 1 and up who are wearing a mask.

The guidance also says that singing indoors is now permitted, as are visitors, though some child-care operators say they need more clarity on the latter.

Previous guidance said parents should not enter, so centres have been doing drop-offs and pickups at the door, with staff running kids to their rooms — and some are unsure if this new guidance explicitly allows them to stop this.

Many are now waiting for word from their local public health units on how each region will be implementing the new guidance.