COVID-19 Information: Child Care

Licensed child care programs and early years settings are open and able to operate regularly. They must still follow some COVID-19 health and safety measures

Managing COVID-19 

Screening 

Daily on-site confirmation of screening for all children and staff is no longer required. Staff and families should continue to self-screen for COVID-19 every day before attending child care using the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.

If the screening says that your child must not go to school, please read the details and follow the direction provided on the screening for your child and your household.

Any sick individual with any symptoms of illness, including those with symptoms not on the screening tool, should stay home and seek assessment from their regular health care provider, as appropriate. Staying home when ill will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses in the child care setting.

Case and contact management

As of December 30, 2021 case and contact management is focused on the highest-risk settings and individuals (e.g. long-term care and retirement homes, congregate settings). Because of changes in eligibility for PCR testing, public Health is no longer aware of every COVID-19 case. We will not know who has tested positive on a rapid antigen test, who has COVID-19 symptoms, or if a case was in a child care program when they may have been infectious. Therefore we will no longer investigate every confirmed case or follow up with close contacts. In addition, we will no longer dismiss cohorts/rooms or declare outbreaks. The actual number of people with COVID-19 will be much higher than reported case numbers.

This approach is more similar to how we manage other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, RSV, or rhinovirus. However, COVID-19 remains a virus that needs to be controlled as much as possible.

Child care operators do not need to report cases or suspected cases to HPPH.

Staff and families who have symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with the virus should follow the guidance at Ontario.ca/exposed or complete the child care screening and follow the directions provided.

Testing

Child care staff, child care providers and children up to 5 years old will receive rapid antigen tests to use if they are symptomatic, or who are away due to an unplanned absence. These tests should be conducted at home and may be used 24 to 48 hours apart as per guidance in the COVID-19 school and child care screener. Note: rapid antigen tests are supplied to childcare programs by the province, not by HPPH.

Eligibility for PCR testing was updated in response to the Omicron surge. PCR tests are only available to individuals in the “highest risk” category (i.e. long-term care homes, hospitals, congregate living, pre-surgery, pregnant) – the general public is not currently eligible.

Handwashing

Hand hygiene is an important part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but also stopping the spread of other germs and bugs, and preventing illness. Please visit our Infection Prevention and Control page for more information and resources.

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