Toronto to start gradually reopening childcare centres by end of the month

Jun 12 2020, 1:37 pm

The City of Toronto will gradually be reopening City-run licensed childcare centres in a phased approach starting on June 29, to ensure the facilities are prepared to safely manage the children.

On Friday, Mayor John Tory announced that by Monday June 29, 11 childcare centres can reopen. And, 10 more will open through July and 19 more in September.

For now, seven childcare centres are on hold pending further analysis.

“We cannot reopen the economy without opening childcare. Families need to have access to safe childcare as they head back to work,” Tory said.

The mayor said that in order to have childcare centres reopen, they needed to make sure that families would not pay additional fees when sending their children back.

“We want to protect families and centres from additional costs,” Tory said. “Families have faced a lot of financial hardship over the past few month and shouldn’t face increased financial burdens.”

According to Tory, through federal supports and available provincial and municipal funds, as well as parent/guardian fees, there will be no extra cost for families.

The funding will help provide resources like more PPE, enhanced cleaning measures, and increased staffing, as the centres reduce capacity but need to keep up operations.

Tory acknowledged that there was an initial lack of clear information on the reopening of the childcare centres, which was first announced by the province on Tuesday.

The mayor said that the 47 city-run facilities would ideally be up and running as soon as possible but that was not the safe option, as the centres needed sufficient time to prepare to properly care for the children.

“The safety of our children is the most important thing.”

While logistics for which families are prioritized to the childcare spaces are still being figured out by City staff, Tory did say that families who must return to work and cannot work from home will be prioritized.

Also, children who were accessing emergency childcare centres during the pandemic for frontline workers, will also be considered in the prioritization.

Emergency childcare centres will close by June 26 and the mayor said that staff will work with those families to figure out where to place the children in the interim.

“This will not be a risk-free environment but we will do everything we can to make it safe,” the mayor added.

On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister announced that all childcare centres could reopen.

However, there are strict guidelines in place.

The province will limit the number of kids putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day.

All children and staff will be screened for symptoms prior to entry and there is a no visitor policy. There will also be the removal of all toys that could spread germs.

Additionally, each centre must have a response plan in place if a child, parents, or staff are exposed to the coronavirus. All plans require training, reporting, and support from the local medical officer of health before reopening is permitted.

The child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing and enhanced cleaning protocols must be implemented.

And, as the economy reopens, with more people going back to work Toronto Public Health launched a new COVID-19 monitoring dashboard that summarizes the progress being made against the virus.

It will look at virus spread and containment, lab testing, hospital and PPE capacity, and public health capacity with case and contact tracing.

To date, there is a total of 13, 149 coronavirus cases with 10, 717 recovered and 973 reported deaths.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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