Supporting Child Care and Early Years

Last revised on October 13, 2021

The content on this page is currently being reviewed and updated. Please consult the Ministry of Education’s recently updated guidance for the most up-to-date information.

On this page:

شهادة بالعودة إلى المدرسة / دار رعاية الطفل بعد المرض

Overview:

We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused difficult times and the decision to send your child(ren) to child care is not easy. Each family should assess their own individual situation especially if your child(ren), family and household members are at higher risk for serious outcomes due to the COVID-19 virus. You may also want to consider your child’s health condition, their needs, and your family’s ability to find alternative child care. Each family should choose what is best for them.

Keeping COVID-19 transmission low in the community is important to help prevent the introduction of the virus into both schools and child care. The primary goal is to make child care as safe as possible. Parents, OPH and child care providers each have a role to play in keeping children as safe as possible.

Thank you letter to Child Care Workers and Early Childhood Educators (pdf – 172 KB)

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Child Care Guidance 

In an effort to support the Ottawa child care sector during the pandemic, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) had been developing and updating local adaptations of the Ministry of Education’s guidance as new Provincial information/directions were released. As OPH understands that waiting for updates to local guidance can cause delays in child care providers’ abilities to make the necessary modifications to their plans and protocols, the Provincial guidance will now provide the direction for Providers here in Ottawa. OPH will continue to support Providers via the OPH information line (613-580-6744) as well as the Outbreak Reporting Line if questions arise regarding case management and/or outbreaks.

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COVID-19 Screening tool for school or child care

The purpose of this screening tool is to help parents and guardians make decisions about whether their child can attend school/child care. This screening tool should be completed daily before attending school/child care for each individual child separately. No personal information is requested when completing this tool, which means that you and/or your child cannot be personally identified or linked to your responses. Using this tool is voluntary. It is recommended that you contact a healthcare provider if you have more questions about your child’s health. This tool is subject to change as further guidance from the Ministry of Health and evidence related to COVID-19 risks becomes available.

COVID-19 Screening tool for school or child care

العربية (Arabic pdf - 307 KB): أداة فحص كوفی د- 19 للمدارس وروضات الأطفال

COVID-19 symptoms in children
When assessing for symptoms, focus on whether they are new, worsening, or different from your child’s baseline health status or usual state. Symptoms associated with known chronic health conditions or related to other known causes/conditions should not be considered unless new, different or worsening. 

This chart does not replace the need to complete screening each day before school or child care. The screening tool acts as a decision guide to support parents and guardians to assess whether or not their child can attend school or child care. Please complete daily for each child separately.

 

Type Symptoms

Most common symptoms of COVID-19

  • Symptoms most commonly association with COVID-19 infection
  • Children with one of the listed symptoms, should stay home, isolate and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible
  • Fever (temperature 37.8 C/100 F or higher) 

  • Chills 

  • Cough (more than usual if chronic cough) including croup (barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, asthma, reactive airway) 

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea, out of breath, unable to breathe deeply, wheeze, that is worse than usual if chronically short of breath) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, asthma) 

  • Decrease or loss of smell or taste (new olfactory or taste disorder) not related to other knows causes or conditions (for example, nasal polyps, allergies, neurological disorders) 

  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, not related to other known causes or conditions (transient vomiting due to anxiety in children, chronic vestibular dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, side effect of medication)

 Other symptoms of COVID-19
  • Children with one or more of these symptom(s) must stay at home and isolate.
  • Children who are high-risk contacts* must get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. 
    • Household contacts (including siblings) who do not have symptoms and are fully vaccinated* do not need to isolate. Household contacts who have symptoms OR who are not fully vaccinated need to isolate.  
  • Children who are not high-risk contacts, do not need to get tested but must stay home until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours. 
    • Household contacts (including siblings) who do not have symptoms do not need to isolate and can leave the home.   
  •  Sore throat (painful swallowing or difficulty swallowing) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, postnasal drip, gastroesophageal (acid) reflux) 
  • Stuffy nose and/or runny nose (nasal congestion and/or rhinorrhea) not related to other known causes or conditions (for example, seasonal allergies, returning inside from the cold, chronic sinusitis unchanged from baseline, reactive airways) 

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye) (Not related to blepharitis, recurrent styes.) 

  • Decreased or lack of appetite (Not related to anxiety, constipation.) 

  • Headache that is new or persistent, unusual, unexplained or long-lasting not related to known causes or conditions (for example, tension-type headache, chronic migraines) and not related to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the last 48 hours 

  • Extreme tiredness, lack of energy or feeling unwell (That is unusual or unexpected (not related to other known causes or conditions or receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in the past 48 hours).) 

  • Muscle aches and pains (That are unexplained or unusual (not related to other known causes or conditions or receiving a COVID-19 vaccine the past 48 hours).) 

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Process when a person tests positive for COVID-19:

Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) goal is to prevent further transmission of COVID-19 and to keep children and child care staff safe. If someone tests positive for COVID-19 in a child care setting, OPH will work in collaboration with the child care to reduce the risk of COVID-19 by implementing some or all of the following measures:

  • Communicating regularly with the child care
  • Reviewing and confirming important practices to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 including:
    • Screening children and staff for exposure to or symptoms of COVID-19
    • Staying home when sick
    • Cohorting (grouping and separation) children and staff
    • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
    • Using personal protective equipment when appropriate (e.g., masking)
    • Ensuring proper hand hygiene
    • Posting signage of appropriate public health measures (e.g., hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene)
    • Maintaining physical distancing
  • Doing a site visit for licensed child care centres and provide further advice, when indicated.
  • Providing recommendations on testing, as per provincial guidelines
  • Assessing whether child care operations can continue and if any additional measures are needed
  • Identifying people who may have been in contact with the person(s) who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Contacting those affected directly to provide guidance
  • If child care operations were interrupted as part of outbreak management, determining when operations can safely resume
  • Helping the child care ensure important practices remain in place long term

New changes to self-isolation for fully vaccinated people (New updates September 17, 2021)

If your child has COVID-19 like symptoms: household contacts that are fully vaccinated, and do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, do not need to isolate while waiting for the symptomatic child’s test results.

Note: Fully vaccinated means that it has been at least 14 days since you received:​

  • the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada (e.g., 2 doses of Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca/COVIDSHIELD, OR 1 dose of Janssen [Johnson & Johnson]) or any combination of such vaccines, OR​
  • one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada (e.g., Sinopharm) followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada (e.g., Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) OR​
  • three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada (e.g., Abdala).​

If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and were fully vaccinated at the time of your high-risk exposure to someone with COVID-19, you do not need to self-isolate at home or in the community. However, there are some exceptions.

If someone is fully vaccinated and develops symptoms of COVID-19, they are still required to self-isolate and seek testing.

For more information on what to do if you are high risk contact of someone with COVID-19 visit COVID-19 High Risk Contacts for more information.

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Child Care Decision guides

  • updated version - coming soon

Roles

Ottawa Public Health’s role
In accordance with provincial standards and guidance, OPH:

  • Manages follow up for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 cases and outbreaks
  • Supports local child care providers in following COVID-19 provincial guidance
  • Supports local child care providers in following compliance to provincial guidance and regulations.
  • Communicates any local recommendations to child care providers on prevention of transmission for COVID-19

For information concerning public health inspections and outbreak management, visit the Outbreaks in Child Care Centers web page.

Child Care Provider’s role

  • Develops and implements reopening plans following guidelines and recommendations from the Ministry of Education and Ottawa Public Health.
  • Communicates with families about COVID-19 prevention measures and how those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and outbreaks will be supported.
  • Ensures accurate records of staff and children’s attendance, as well up-to-date contact information for staff and children that can be accessed in a timely manner for investigations and communications.
  • Facilitates training of staff with respect to outbreak prevention and control measures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Role of parent(s)/ guardian(s):

  • Using the screening tool, screen every child in your care every morning, even on weekends. The tool will help you decide whether your child should attend child care or start isolating.
  • Have your child tested for COVID-19 based on recommendations of screening tool, health care provider or Ottawa Public Health (OPH)
  • Keep your child(dren) home while waiting for COVID-19 test results and/ or if they are a high-risk contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Unvaccinated siblings and other household contacts* of children with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 who have gone for testing are also required to isolate while waiting for the child’s test results.
  • Call the child care as soon as possible if your child:
    • Has COVID-19 like symptoms and will not be attending child care,
    • Tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating, or
    • Is self-isolating because they are a high risk contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Provide the child care with up-to-date contact information for each parent or guardian and emergency contacts
  • Inform the child care of any medical conditions your child(ren) may have (provide appropriate documents as needed)
  • Ensure your child’s immunizations are up to date
  • Have a plan in place in the event your child cannot attend child care for an extended period or is required to go home during the day
  • Read and engage with all communications from your child care provider, the Ministry of Education, as well as OPH. Please also check the Supporting child care and early years during COVID-19 web page regularly for up-to-date information
  • Contact the Ottawa Public Health Information Centre (OPHIC) at (613) 580-6744 if you have any questions about any message received from OPH.
  • Please note: Parents/guardians do NOT need to call OPH to inform them that a child is sick, has COVID-like symptoms, or has a negative COVID result. OPH will contact parents as needed.

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Notice of Risk for child care and early years

When children from different families attend the same child care centre/home child care/EarlyON center to participate in programming, there is an increased risk of the COVID-19 virus being transmitted. Children who are infected with the COVID-19 virus are more likely than adults to develop very mild infections or to exhibit no symptoms at all, but these children can still transmit the infection to other children and adults. This means that children can bring home an infection acquired at a child care centre/home child care/EarlyON program and put other persons at risk. All such organizations have a screening process to help detect an infection in a person who shows symptoms; however, this process will not detect an infection in children or adults who do not have symptoms at the time of screening.

The risk of serious COVID-19 infection increases with age―especially after age 50. Older staff and family members should consider their personal risk when making decisions related to child care and remain Social Wise.

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Frequently asked questions

Screening

Which self-screening tool should child care and EarlyON providers and essential visitors complete prior to entering a child care and/or EarlyON Centre? 
The COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Adult) should be completed daily by all staff and essential visitors prior to attending a child care and/or EarlyON Centre. 
Which self-screening tool should be completed by parents/guardians/caregivers prior to entering a child care and/or EarlyON Centre?
The COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Adult) should be completed daily by all parents/guardians/caregivers prior to attending a child care and/or EarlyON Centre.  
Which screening tool should be completed for children prior to entering a child care and/or EarlyON Centre? 
The COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care (child) should be completed daily for each child, prior to attending a child care and/or EarlyON Centre. 
Who needs to complete a daily screening prior to entering a child care and/or EarlyON Centre?
All individuals, including parents/guardians/caregivers, children, staff/providers and essential visitors, entering the facility must self-screen every day before arrival at the child care and/or EarlyON Centre. 
Should I screen/monitor my child for symptoms during the weekends and statutory holiday? 

Yes. OPH recommends monitoring/screening all household members for COVID-19 like symptoms, even on days your child is not attending school/child care (such as weekends, statutory holidays). Begin isolation for the symptomatic child, and all household contacts*, as soon as symptoms appear and seek testing. 

 

Consult Tested, What Now? for more information on your next steps what to do while waiting for the test results. 

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Testing

How will child care settings be informed if a child or staff member tests positive for COVID-19?

OPH will contact the child care setting as soon as OPH is made aware of a positive lab result to begin an investigation.

If the positive lab result is received by OPH after operating hours, OPH will reach out to the child care setting the following day. The priority is always to ensure that any child or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 does not attend child care the following day.

It is possible that a person who tests positive for COVID-19 receives their results on the online portal before being contacted by OPH. The child care setting should be contacted immediately by parents/guardians or child care setting staff member.

Will Ottawa Public Health contact me if my child receives a positive COVID-19 test result? 

Yes. When a child tests positive for COVID-19, parents/guardians will receive information from Ottawa Public Health (OPH) through an email, a letter or an automated message to notify them that their child has received a positive test result. An OPH staff will be assigned to work with the parent/guardian of the child to provide follow-up details. 

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Symptoms/sick child

A child has presented with a new symptom, that is most common to COVID-19, after: 

  • Recently testing positive for COVID-19 and completing the required isolation period  
  • Recently testing negative for a similar (but since resolved) or different symptom most common for COVID-19. 

Does the child need to be tested again? 

Yes.  If a child develops one or more new symptoms most common for COVID-19, they should begin isolation and seek assessment at an Assessment Centre, even if the child has recently completed an isolation period after obtaining a positive test result or recently received a negative test result.   

A negative COVID-19 test indicates that an individual did not have detectable virus at the time the test was performed.  It does not speak to whether an individual was exposed to the virus before the test (and was in the very early stage of infection), or whether a person was exposed to the virus after the test was performed. A negative test can therefore not predict an individual’s likelihood of being infectious the following week.  

If the child is tested and resultare positive, Ottawa Public Health will reach out and provide guidance. 

Each household contact* will need to self-isolate until the child is assessed at the Assessment Centre, and if tested, until the test result is received.

When can a child return to school/child care after experiencing one or more of the most common symptoms of COVID-19?

To return to school/child care, the child must either: 

  • Get tested and obtain a negative COVID-19 test result,  their symptom(s) are improving for 24 hours without fever reducing medication, they have no fever, and they are feeling well enough to go to school/child care; 

  • OR, if the child does not get tested, it has been 10 days since the onset of their symptom(s), symptoms are improving, they have no fever and they are feeling better.   

  • OR, they receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.  

The screening tool should not be completed until isolation can be ended by achieving one of the above criteria. 

Parents/tutors should also complete the Attestation letter for return to school/child care for students following illness (pdf - 269 KB). 

When can a child return to school/child care after experiencing one or more of the other COVID-19 symptoms? 

If your child is NOT a high-risk contact, they can return to school/child careif they: 

  • have had their symptom(s) improving for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medication, and they are feeling well enough to go to school/child care; 

  • OR, they receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.  

The screening tool should not be completed until isolation can be ended by achieving one of the above criteria. 

Parents/tutors should also complete the Attestation letter for return to school/child care for students following illness (pdf - 269 KB).

Who can determine if a child’s symptoms have improved before returning to school/child care? 

Parents/guardians are responsible for determining if their child’s symptoms have improved before returning to school/child care, once their isolation period is completed. The child's symptoms must have been improving for at least 24 hours and resolved for 48 hours for vomiting and diarrhea. Parents/tutors can use the COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care to help make decisions about whether their child can attend school/child care. This screening tool should be completed daily before attending school/child care for each individual child separately. Parents/tutors should also complete the Attestation letter for return to school/child care for students following illness (pdf - 269 KB). 

Please consult with your health care provider as needed, or call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000. 

My child developed one or more new symptoms over the weekend. The symptoms disappeared on Monday morning. Can my child attend school/child care? 

Even if symptoms start on a day your child is not attending school/child care (such as weekends, statutory holidays), depending which symptom(s), your child must may be required to stay home and may not be able to return to child care/school until:  

For most common symptoms of COVID-19: 

  • They receive a negative COVID-19 test result OR;   

  • if the child does not get tested, it has been 10 days since the onset of their symptom(s) OR;   

  • They receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.  

  • AND, symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours without fever reducing medications. If a child’s symptoms included vomiting or diarrhea, these symptoms must be resolved for 48 hours prior to returning to school or childcare. 

Each household contact* will need to self-isolate until the test result is received.

 

For other symptoms of COVID-19: 

  • have had their symptom(s) improving for at least 24 hours, and they are feeling well enough to go to school/child care; 

  • OR, they receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.  

 

Household contacts (including siblings) who do not have any symptoms (COVID or other symptoms) do not need to isolate and can leave the home (vaccination status is not applicable).  

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Variants of Concern

Contacts

How fast is OPH able to investigate the possible transmission of COVID-19 to others in a child care centre following a positive test result?
OPH initiates the investigation as soon as possible. OPH contacts the child care centre to ensure notification and collect information on close contacts of the person who tested positive for COVID-19. Information needed can include group and staff lists and transportation lists. OPH works with the child care providers, staff members, and the parent/guardian of the child who received a positive test result for COVID-19, to find out where the individual may have acquired the infection. The information is used to determine which children and/or staff are high-risk contacts. 
Who is a household contact?

A household contact is anyone who lives with the person being tested like parents, siblings, roommates or who provided care to you in the home (such as bathing, toileting, dressing, feeding). This includes other persons who may have similar unprotected contact with you (such as partners living in other households or people who visited with you indoors for prolonged periods). 

Consult Tested, What Now? for more information on your next steps what to do while waiting for the test results. 

What are the isolation requirements for household contacts* of individuals with one or more of:

  • the main symptom(s) of COVID-19? 
  • the other symptom(s) of COVID-19? 

 

All household contacts* (including siblings) of symptomatic individual, presenting one or more main symptom(s) of COVID -19, are required to isolate: 

  • until 10 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual, OR; 

  • until the symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test result, OR; 

  • symptomatic individual is provided an alternative diagnosis by a healthcare professional. 

Household contacts who are not *fully vaccinated must self-isolate for 10 days following their last contact with the symptomatic child. This applies if the symptomatic child can self-isolate away from the rest of the household. If household contacts who are not *fully vaccinated cannot isolate from the symptomatic child (will come into contact with them or share space), then household contacts must isolate for up to 10 days. The 20 days comes from a 10-day isolation period starting after the symptomatic child finishes their 10-day isolation (10 days + 10 days).   

If there are household contacts who are *fully vaccinated, and do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, they do not need to isolate. If the fully vaccinated individual becomes symptomatic, they must self-isolate immediately and get tested.

 

Household contacts* (including siblings), of a symptomatic child who is a high risk contact, presenting with one or more of the other symptom(s) of COVID-19who are not *fully vaccinated for COVID-19 or household contacts who are *fully vaccinated and have symptoms, must stay home and self-isolate until the symptomatic child receives a negative COVID-19 test result

Consult Tested, What Now? for more information on your next steps what to do while waiting for the test results. 

 

If symptomatic child presenting with one or more of the other symptom(s) of COVID-19 is NOT a high risk contact, household contacts* (including siblings) who do not have any symptoms (most common or other symptoms for COVID-19) do not need to isolate and can leave the home (vaccination status is not applicable).  If a child who is not a high-risk contact with one or more of the other symptom(s) of COVID-19 got a test, follow the instructions above for "symptomatic children who are high-risk contacts”. 

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Outbreaks

Where does OPH report child care outbreaks?

Confirmed child care outbreaks are reported in OPH's Daily COVID-19 Dashboard. The Dashboard is updated daily at 12:30 pm.

Can a home child care remain open when a person living in the home (i.e., a household member) develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19?

No. Home-based child care centres need to close if a person living in the home develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Refer to Child Care Operational Guidance for further instructions on when a home child care can re-open in this situation. 

If a child develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while attending a home child care or child care service, can the child care service still operate? 

Yes, the child care may continue operating until test results are known. If the child is not tested, the home child care should contact OPH for direction.

For more information on what happens when a child develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19  while at child care, consult the Decision Tool for When a Symptomatic Child Falls Ill While At Child Care. 

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Masks and eye protection

What if my child loses their mask or doesn’t have one for child care?

Parents should try to ensure their child is provided with 2 to 3 clean masks each day.  Parents/guardians are responsible for providing their child(ren) with a non-medical mask(s) or face covering each day. Parents are responsible to provide a way to store masks while not in use for their child(ren).

All children in grade 1 and above are required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while inside a child care setting, including in hallways. All younger children (aged 2 to SK) are encouraged but not required to wear a non-medical mask or face covering while inside a child care setting, including in hallways. Masks are not recommended for children under the age of two.

What if an employee is allergic to medical mask provided?
If an employee is allergic or has a skin sensitivity to a particular model of medical mask that has been provided, the employer has a responsibility to offer a second type of medical mask. Because of uncertain filtering effectiveness, a cloth mask is not a suitable alternative in the occupational context. Cloth masks too could produce an allergic or sensitivity reaction from their dyes or detergents used on them. If wearing a medical mask is a continuing problem, we recommend that the employee see a health care provider for further assessment.
Are parents obligated to wear masks when dropping off a child outside at child care centres?

OPH recommends wearing a mask whenever physical distancing from members outside your household cannot be maintained Personal protective equipment requirements in the child care guidance, only pertain to situations where adults are inside the child care premise. 

Are staff allowed to wear cloth masks rather than the mandatory medical masks?
As these requirements are set by the Ministry of Education in their Operational Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak – Child Care Reopening, we recommend directing any inquiries requesting clarifications specific to personal protective equipment (PPE) to information.met@ontario.ca  
Do children in grade 1 and up who attend school during the day need to wear a mask while at the home child care centre (before and after school, PD days and holidays)?
Yes, all children in grade 1 and above are required to wear a non-medical or cloth mask while inside the child care premises, including in hallways.
Are the children at a home child care service required to wear masks when the child care is operating?

Yes, all children attending the child care service (whether they are the provider’s children or not) are included in the masking requirements. If the children are in the home but not attending the child care service, they are to be considered residents in the guidance.
Refer to Tip Sheet for Licensed Home Child Care Using Medical Masks, Eye Protection and Face Coverings (non-medical or cloth masks) provided by the Ministry of Education.

We found alternative PPE (such as a mask/shield, masks with plastic window). Can we access these through Ottawa Public Health and/or the Ministry of Education?
The PPE requirements are set by the Ministry of Education in their Operational Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak – Child Care Reopening and therefore, we recommend directing any inquiries requesting clarifications specific to personal protective equipment (PPE) to information.met@ontario.ca.
A child, in grade 1 or above, is at home during the day but attends home child care in the evening. Is this child required to wear a mask while at the home child care premise?
All children in grade 1 and above are required to wear a non-medical or cloth mask while inside the child care premises, including in hallways. Reasonable exceptions to the indoor mandatory mask requirement are expected to be put in place by the child care provider. Exceptions to wearing masks indoors may include situations where a child cannot tolerate wearing a mask safely, reasonable exemptions for medical conditions, child is sleeping, etc.
Does the protective equipment need to be worn by staff and children while outside?
Masks are required outdoors for adults and children (grade 1 and above) when physical distancing of a least two metres cannot be maintained between individuals. All younger children (aged 2 to SK) are also encouraged to do this, but it is not required. In shared outdoor spaces, cohorts must maintain a distance of at least two metres between groups and any other individuals outside of the cohort.
Which products and/or PPE does OPH recommend to reduce fogging of eye protection while outside?

Which products and/or PPE does OPH recommend to reduce fogging of eye protection while outside?  

We can understand temperature changes can cause eye protection to fog. Ottawa Public Health cannot make recommendations for specific products. Your supplier may be able to recommend some solutions or products.

Manufacturers offer vented eye protection (i.e. vented goggles) to reduce fogging issues. There are two categories of vented goggles: direct vent and indirect vent. Indirect vented goggles provide the most protection from splashes, sprays, and respiratory droplets. They are the better choice for education workers (such as child care providers, educators and teachers).  

Here are some tips to reduce fogging, while prioritizing and maintaining PPE efficiency: 

  • ensure that eye protection and mask fit correctly over face and form a good seal around the edges;  

  • choose eye protection that is further from face (i.e. face shields to prevent warm breath from reaching the eye protection barrier (i.e. a well fitted mask);  

  • adjust mask for a snug fit over the bridge of the nose.  

The PPE requirements are set by the Ministry of Education (Operational Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak – Child Care Reopening) and so, we recommend directing any inquiries requesting clarifications specific to personal protective equipment (PPE) to information.met@ontario.ca. 

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General

Can child care operators implement additional measures and precautions that go beyond those provided by the Ministry of Education?

Yes—within reason and legislation.  Child care operators may implement their own policies that would offer additional protection from COVID-19 transmission than what Ottawa Public Health or the Ministry of Education has recommended.  Child care operators are responsible for the administration and implications of any supplemental measures they choose to implement within their facility. 

Can child care services continue using rugs in their rooms? What precautions should be taken?

Yes, but it is recommended that rugs be removed where possible. If they cannot be removed, then they should be vacuumed daily and steam cleaned periodically. Typically, it is recommended that carpets and rugs are steam cleaned four times per year; however, Ottawa Public Health recommends increasing this frequency if you are able.  During an outbreak, it is recommended that carpets and rugs, where feasible, be rolled up and put away. 

Are there any resources I can access if I am concerned about my child’s mental health?

Are there any resources I can access if I am concerned about my child’s mental health? 

Are there any resources supporting the mental health of child care staff?

Yes. Here are some tips on how you can support and protect your own mental health. 

Does Ottawa Public Health (OPH) have any resources for those pregnant who have a child(ren) currently attending child care?

Yes. We recognize that many parents/guardians will be carefully considering what the best decisions are for their family. Our resources were developed with the understanding that these decisions are difficult for many parents/guardians, given so many variables and unknowns about the future.

For general information on pregnancy and breastfeeding during COVID-19, please refer to Resources for Those Pregnant and Parenting During COVID-19.

Every family situation is different, if you have further concerns or questions, please consult with your health care provider.

What is the requirement for cleaning and disinfecting outdoor play structures? 

Cleaning and disinfection of outdoor play structures between each group is no longer required, as per the current Child Care Operational Guidance.  Ottawa Public Health is encouraging child care providers to focus their efforts on proper hand hygiene instead, as hand hygiene is one of the most effective measures in reducing surface transmission risk. 

For more information on hand hygiene for infants and young children, consult Hand hygiene for infants and young children.

For more information on cleaning and disinfecting, consult Environmental cleaning and disinfection in child care centres and schools. 

Is singing permitted inside while attending child care and EarlyON programs? 

OPH does not recommend group singing indoors. 

COVID-19 spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks. Infectious droplets or aerosols may come into direct contact with another person’s nose, mouth or eyes, or they may be inhaled into their nose, mouth, and lungs. Indoor singing with inadequate distancing and ventilation increases risk for transmission of the COVID-19 virus.  

Is singing permitted outside while attending child care and EarlyON programs? 

OPH does not recommend group singing outdoors. 

Wind direction, wind speed, and the physical arrangement of the group are all considerations for COVID-19 transmission when singing in a group outdoors.  

OPH recommends encouraging activities that promote child language acquisition that follow the safety guidelines below: 

  • Virtual options instead of group gatherings. 

  • Consider using audio or video recordings instead of live singing or wind or brass instrumental music. 

  • Group singing is strongly discouraged. 

For reference, the Provincial Regulations for in-person teaching involving singing does not distinguish between indoor versus outdoor instructional spaces. 

What measures are in place within child care and early years centres to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission? 

There are multiple public health protective measures involved in limiting COVID-19 transmission in child care and early years settings. Some of these measures include; reducing cohort sizes, screening of children and staff to ensure people who are ill stay home, using masks and practicing physical distancing, adapting schedules, maintaining vigilance with hand hygiene, as well as responding rapidly to inform close contacts when someone tests positive for COVID-19 

For more information you can also consult the Notice of Risk for Child Care and Early Years.

What cleaning products and/or disinfectants does OPH recommend? 

Although Ottawa Public Health cannot recommend specific products or disinfectants, we encourage child care providers to follow existing guidelines and manufacturer’s instructions Health Canada provides a list of approved disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19. 

However, please note that spray products are not recommended due to the risk of inhalation (see Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development). Chemical sprays should be avoided and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn. 

For more information you can consult Infection Prevention and Control in Child Care. 

 Do child care providers need to maintain screening records of staff? 

Yes. Childcare providers are to validate self-screening for staff, verifying proof of completion of the screening. 

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EarlyON

EarlyON Child and Family Centers are offering programming in various formats, including indoors, outdoors and/or virtual.  Before attending an EarlyON location, please be sure to check with the program to ensure it is still running, and in what format in accordance to the latest EarlyON COVID-19 Operational Guidance and the Government of Ontario`s Roadmap to Reopen.  

EarlyON in-person programming are taking the following measures to reduce the risk of transmission: 

  • limiting group sizes to those specified by the Government of Ontario (e.g. according to the step in the Roadmap to Reopenand grouping participants. 

  • Ottawa Public Health wishes to remind providers, as well as the general public, that any increase in the number of contacts within a group also increases the risks associated with COVID-19 transmission and that smaller groups are preferred. 

  • requiring pre-registration for all participants (online or over the phone) to ensure important health and safety measures are communicated in advance for in-person participation. 

  • requiring all participants to complete the daily screening tool prior to attending an EarlyON program.  If an individual is not screened prior to arriving at the EarlyON Centre, active (in-person) screening should be available. 

Adults (staff, visitors and parents): COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces 

EarlyON Centre premises should be cleaned frequently.  Cleaning plus disinfection twice daily is suggested at a minimum, however, more frequent cleaning and disinfection may be necessary, depending on the frequency of use and extent of soilage.  Providers are also encouraged to promote frequent, proper hand hygiene before and after using shared toys/equipment and materials. 

Shared objects (toys, equipment, etc.) and spaces (rooms, bathrooms, etc.) should also be cleaned and disinfected regularly, however the risk associated with transmission with shared objects is low. Instead of regular cleaning of shared objects, the focus should be on regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette to reduce the risk of infection related to shared equipment.  

For general information on the EarlyON program, please visit the City of Ottawa’s Early Years webpage.

Can I bring my own snack(s) to the EarlyON program?
Yes, attendees may bring their own food and beverages. However, there should be no sharing of food and beverages between program participants. In addition, personal food and beverages should be consumed during the regular meal or snack times and should meet any allergy restrictions set by the EarlyON Centre.
Is outdoor EarlyON programming safer than being inside? 

Outdoor programming is strongly encouraged as a program delivery model, as it can allow for safer, physically distanced activities for children and families. Where programming is being offered in a shared setting (e.g., park), providers should follow public health advice: 

  • when outdoors, providers must adhere to the gathering limits set by the Government of Ontario and local municipal by-laws;  

  • the use of masks is strongly encouraged outdoors for adults or children (over the age of two) if physical distancing of at least two metres (six feet) is difficult to maintain between individuals;  

  • ensure proper hand hygiene before and after using shared outdoor structures is advised.

Do staff need to wear personal protective equipment at the EarlyON Centre? 
Yes, all EarlyON staff are required to wear medical masks and eye protection (i.e., face shield or goggles) while inside the EarlyON premises, including in hallways and staff rooms. Masks are recommended to be worn by EarlyON staff while outside when physical distancing of at least 2 metres (6 feet) cannot be maintained.  The use of medical masks is to reduce the risk of COVID 19 transmission for those at the EarlyON centre. This is very important when working in a setting with young children who may not be wearing face coverings (i.e. under the age of two). 

Will my child be interacting with other children while at an EarlyON Centre? 

Yes, however, EarlyON programs and services must be offered in a way that maintains physical distancing.  EarlyON Centres must always implement a physical distancing policy of at least 2 metres (6 feet) amongst all individuals.  

Note: Physical distancing does not apply to parents/guardians and their children living in the same home. 

How can EarlyON Centres report when a staff, child, parent/caregiver, or essential visitor has a confirmed case of COVID-19 (i.e. a positive COVID-19 test result)? 

For questions regarding Public Health and operating during COVID-19: Call 613-580-6744  

If EarlyON providers become aware of a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 in a staff member, program attendee (parent or child), OR if they have any related questions: 

Contact OPH’s Outbreak (OB) Reporting Line immediately at 613-580-2424 ext. 26325open 7 days a week between 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., or call 3-1-1 outside of business hours and ask to speak with the on-call Public Health Inspector for further guidance.  

Do EarlyON Centres need to maintain screening records of staff, placement students and essential visitors (excluding parents/caregivers and children)?

No. EarlyON Centres are not required to maintain records of the daily screening for parents/caregivers and children.  However, they must keep a record of attendance and contact information to facilitate contact tracing, if needed.  

Do EarlyON Centres need to maintain screening records of parents/caregivers and children?
No. EarlyON Centres are not required to maintain records of the daily screening for parents/caregivers and children.  However, they must keep a record of attendance and contact information to facilitate contact tracing, if needed.   

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Information for parents

Here are some important key messages for parents and guardians to review with their child before attending child care:

  • Stay at home when you are sick, even when symptoms are mild. Staying home helps prevent transmitting an illness to others.
  • Ensure that personal belongings and food are not shared with children and staff.
  • Practice ‘no touch’ greetings with your friends and staff at child care. Let’s share a wave and not our germs.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your upper arm, not your hands! Throw the tissue away and wash your hands right away.
  • If you don’t feel well, tell someone.
  • Avoid touching your face. We can easily spread germs from our hands to our mask or face.
  • Bring your own water bottle from home to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • When not wearing a mask, physical distancing is especially important to keep you and the friends around you healthy.
  • Reach out for help if you need it. It’s ok NOT to be ok. Check out some of our Mental wellness supports.
  • Make sure your immunizations are all up to date.

Wash Your Hands the Right Way - Video Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs. Children need to be taught when and how to wash their hands properly. It is important for everyone to wash their hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

Masks

What’s the Best Mask for Me - Video

Wearing a cloth (non-medical) mask helps to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and helps protect people who are around you. When you wear a mask, you are helping to protect other people. When other people wear a mask, they are helping to protect you. Children attending child care from age 2 to SK will be encouraged but not required to wear masks in indoor spaces. Visit our Masks page for additional information on how to wear a cloth (non-medical) mask and store them safely when not in use. Frequently asked questions about masks and children

Physical distancing

Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people outside your social circle and household that you interact with and ensuring that whenever possible the people you interact with remain more than 2 metres (6 feet) away. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Physical distancing helps limit the transmission of the virus when used with the other public health measures such as hand washing, wearing a mask and staying home when sick.

Mental wellness supports

Take Care of Your Mental Health - Video

Take care of yourself. It’s ok to NOT be ok. Please know that help is available, and we encourage you to reach out for support when you need it.

Mental health resources

Mental health resources for staff

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Useful links and resources:

Visit the Supporting schools during COVID-19 for other resources

As we learn to live with COVID-19, we must continue to Be Social Wise and recognize that all of us have a role to play when it comes to reducing the spread of the virus.

Contact Information

Provincial Vaccine Information Line

  • 7 days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm
  • Call if you have questions about Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination program.
  • Service is available in multiple languages.
  • Telephone: 1-888-999-6488
  • TTY: 1-866-797-0007

Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Telephone Line

  • Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 4:30 pm
  • Translation is available in multiple languages
  • Telephone: 613-580-6744 follow the prompts to the COVID-19 telephone line
  • TTY: 613-580-9656

Emergency Services

  • If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to the Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care clinic. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

See someone not respecting COVID-19 rules?

How to access help during COVID-19

  • 211 Ontario can help you find financial and social support during COVID-19
  • Telephone: 2-1-1

Related Information

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