Dear Stepping UP families,
I am extremely excited to be opening the Centre back up to your children; it has been a long few months not seeing their smiles every day. As we know, COVID-19 will be bringing a new normal for us all and although this plan will be updated to ensure we follow all Ministry of Health guidelines, I know many of you are wondering what new regulations and policies will be put in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone.
Specific Illness Policy for COVID-19
As we know, despite the slow reopening of our economy, COVID-19 remains. Furthermore, there is an open-ended timeline as to how long this will continue to pose a threat. Therefore, we have developed a specific illness policy for COVID-19. This policy is in conjunction with our original illness policy that you have signed. It is important that we all work together to ensure we are all taking the extra precautions that are required to keep us all safe and healthy.
During the weekend and outside daycare hours please be on high alert to any symptoms from yourself, your children, and anyone else in your household. Please take temperatures regularly, listen for laboured breathing or coughing, and pay close to attention to any unusual behaviour or when your child expresses feeling unwell.
We ask that if you, your attending Stepping UP child, or any sibling(s) of an attending child has any symptoms, you must keep your child home for monitoring for 24 hours.
Drop off and Pick Up will be different. While we have always loved having our parents bringing their child to their classroom, to avoid unnecessary traffic in and out of the Centre this will be revised. Upon entering the building, at the main access door to Stepping UP, your children will be greeted by a Stepping UP employee at the hallway entrance and immediately the following will happen:
- sanitizer will be used on the hands of the child being dropped off
- temperatures will be taken by a no touch thermometer.
We ask that the children please keep all outside toys, stuffed animals, blankets, and any other belongings at home. Each child has a sleep blanket and stuffy at the Centre that will be washed daily, at the Centre. Please keep the bare minimum of personal items in your child’s cubbies. We ask all families to provide a big backpack where all items can be placed and zipped. This will allow for belongings to put away neatly and minimize potential risk of cross contamination.
If anyone within your household has travelled or you have visited anyone who has recently travelled and didn’t complete the two weeks isolation, Stepping UP requires you to inform the Centre immediately and to keep your children home with you following proper isolation guidelines.
As we continue to learn more about COVID-19, I will keep families updated. This is a new normal for us all and appreciate the community we have created and know that together we will get through this.
Lindsay and the Stepping UP team
COVID-19 Policy and Procedure
What we need from our families:
The following is not meant to be complete illness policy, but rather updates to the original Stepping UP illness policy. If you need a copy of the original, please advise. These temporary changes are in place to keep your family, and the staff health and safe until further notice.
Temperature: Temperatures will be checked at the door and during the day to do regular health checks on the children and staff. No fever-reducing medication (Tylenol, Motrin, Advil etc.) will be given 8 hours prior to care. Any temperature over 98.4 will be monitored for increase and parents will be notified of us monitoring to ensure should the it increase the child can be picked up promptly. Should a child’s temperature reach 101.4 they will be sent home. Any persons who develop a fever will need to remain home for a minimum of 7 days or with a doctors note stating diagnoses. If the diagnosis is “just a virus” it will require a 2 weeks isolation or a negative COVID-19 test.
Stomach Symptoms: This will be 72 hours out minimum symptom-free and without any aid of medication. Child must be feeling back to themselves, eating regular meals and drinking as well as be able to fully participate in the Centre’s daily activities. Please avoid giving any medication designed to help with constipation if the child is attending care as should your child have diarrhea we will need to send them home for the symptom and not for the reason.
Family Symptoms: If anyone in the household is experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea you are to keep your child home for monitoring.
COVID-19 testing: If anyone in your household, or someone you had been in contact with is being test for COVID-19, you are to keep your child at home for the 14 days isolation to monitor your own symptoms OR until the you receive confirmation of the test coming back negative. If any symptoms develop outside of Centre hours please notify Lindsay immediately.
If anyone within the Centre develops symptoms, testing will occur and, the Centre will have to close until results return. Should a test come back positive, the Centre will be closed for 14 days minimum and be completely sterilized before reopening. Everyone who was in attendance will need to self isolate during this time.
We ask families to please use extra precautions when out in public and avoid taking your children out where possible. Please ensure you are following the Ministry guidelines and avoiding large gatherings, as this increases chance of exposure and in turn puts everyone at higher risk.
What Stepping UP is doing to keep everyone safe:
Masks and Face Guards: All staff will have a mask that is to be worn when physical distancing isn’t possible – such times will include when serving meals and snacks, nap time, diaper changes etc. Facial expression is especially important in the younger age groups, so we will also have face guards for use on site.
Temperatures: Staff temperatures will be taken upon entering the building and monitored through-out the day. If a staff member is experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, muscle aches, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea they will need to stay home for monitoring for a minimum of 7 days.
Shoes: All staff will have indoor shoes. Outdoor shoes will be kept in the hallway and not be worn on the carpets at anytime.
Handwashing: Increase in handwashing will be mandatory as well as the use of hand sanitizer. Gloves are provided but only recommended during bowel toileting routines. Gloves must be changed in between each child and handwashing must be completed before and after for a at least 30 second.
Any outside materials, backpacks, jackets and personal belongings will be sanitized upon entering the building and kept out of reach and away from children’s belongings.
All decorative pillows, plush toys that are not easily sanitized have been removed for the time being.
Minimal toys will be put out for use. Regular rotation of educational materials will continue, while ensuring proper sanitizing occus in between use. Dress UP clothes will be put away for the time being. Sensory materials such as play dough, and water play will not be put out unless each child is given their own materials.
Carpets will be cleaned with a heated carpet cleaner and antibacterial solution regularly.
Children will be socially distanced as much as possible with smaller class sizes, beds at nap time will be far apart and chairs during activities and mealtimes will be spaced apart.
There will not be any nonessential visitors in the building. This includes tours for potential families being moved to virtual tours and there will not be any special guests in during this time.
Staff will be limiting their outings in between shifts and will abide by all Ministry recommendations. Staff will wear masks when out in public, avoid large crowds and ensure social distancing measures are followed. We will all be monitoring our own health outside of Centre hours and families will be notified immediately if anyone begins to experience ill symptoms.
Your families, staff families and my own families is the upmost important. I appreciate everyone working together to ensure we can continue to provide a safe environment for us all.
Q: Will staff be tested weekly?
A: There is not a mandate to be tested by Public Health unless symptoms are present. Stepping UP will be following the recommendations from our Medical officers. Full details are found here http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/docs/2019_covid_testing_guidance.pdf Should a staff or child present symptoms testing is required and isolation is mandated until results come back. The Centre will also have to be closed while we are waiting. We want to avoid any further closures so ask that all parents be extra diligent with at home screening.
Q: I am worried with the extensive list of symptoms and my child typically showing some of these symptoms all the time and especially during cold and flu season that they will be away from the Centre for longer periods. Will there be a refund for missed days?
A: I feel as though during these unprecedented times and as we are still learning more about the symptoms and affects on COVID that it is crucial for the Centre and families work together. Should a child be away for more than 10 consecutive days in a month there will be discussion on fair reimbursement.
Q: Will staff have to stay home until the testing comes back and how will you be able to manage that with needing to staff the Centre:
A: Yes, staff will need to stay home until results are returned should they be tested before coming back. When an individual is being tested we are mandated to contact Public Health to advise them and they will provide us with further instructions. This could include a complete centre closure and/or classroom closure.
Q: Will there be reduced class sizes and how many children is it looking like will be returning?
A: Yes, class sizes will be reduced upon reopening. Many families have expressed being more comfortable waiting for their child to start back once they see more of a decline in COVID-19 numbers. I do not want families to feel pressure to return when they are not comfortable out of fear of losing their space. I will be saving spaces until September OR until I absolutely must start filling spaces. The spaces would not be filled until it was offered back to the current family first. Currently we are mandated to only have 10 bodies in each individual classrooms.
Q: My child was supposed to start in the Infant room during the closure, will they still be able to start?
A: Currently, I do not see an issue with have the families that were to start being able to do so. There will unfortunately be a difference in that Moms and Dads will not be able to come into the Centre as they would normally. HiMama will be used and more photos will be taken and uploaded promptly to ensure you are getting frequent updates. All families are also given my cell number, so we can always utilize other “real time” virtual means. I know this is not going to be easy, and I hope in time we can loosen these restriction.
Q: My child is to start in July and is Part Time will that look any different then Full Time?
A: Unfortunately due to Ministry mandates that were just announced yesterday we are not able to offer Part Time care at this time. Ministry has mandated that the same group of children must be together for a minimum of a week. That being said we are able to offer part time care on a weekly basis should space allow. This would mean if your child was to be sharing a space with another child we could accommodate 1 week on and 1 week off (space permitting).
Q: If a child is showing any symptoms how long will they have to stay home?
A: With COVID-19 being so new and having very similar symptoms as other cold and flu’s I am asking that if a child has any symptoms they remain home for 7 days, or obtain a doctors note that specifies the diagnoses- “just a virus” unfortunately wont be sufficient information to ensure the safety of all students. The other option is to take your child for a COVID-19 test and keep them home until the results come back. Once results return negative and the child is symptom free for 48 hours they may return. If a child tests positive they must stay home until the obtain 2 negative COVID tests. The Centre will also be closed to properly sanitize and everyone at the Centre will need to isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms for 2 weeks- if anyone else has develops symptoms they must notify my immediately.
Q: Will this affect After Care?
A: I am hopeful for the summer to still be able to offer a summer program with reduced numbers. We would spend most of our time outdoors. How this will look for us in September is still unknown at this time. It depends on if our maximum numbers remain at 50 and how our registration looks and where the highest need is. It will also be affected if school starts in September or not. More information will come on this and I will ensure it is done so in as timely of a manner as possible.
Q: How will you deal with transitions upon return?
A: At the time of the zoom meeting, my plan was to have all children return to the classroom they were in before they left. However, due to class restrictions and number of children returning they may not be able to return to their pre covid classroom. With that, this is going to be a transition for them regardless and they will be joined by their friends in their new classrooms should they need to be moved. All of the Stepping UP classrooms have wonderful Educators, so rest assured the level of care will go unchanged.
Q: Will staff remain in one classroom or will they still rotate?
A: Educators will remain in the same classroom on each individual day. Part time staff would typically rotate to a different classroom, but if they were in the Infant room in the morning they would be in the Infant room in the afternoon etc. I will always do my best to keep the same part time staff in the same classroom, however it may have to change by the day. Full Time staff always remained in their individual classrooms, so that will stay the same. Classrooms will no longer be merging in the mornings or in the evenings to reduce the chance of cross contamination between classrooms.