Essential service daycares lead the way as Alberta child care centres prepare to reopen

As many child care centres prepare to open their doors, essential service daycares are reassuring Albertans that proper protocols can be followed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can tell you there’s definitely a lot of fear,” said Kids U executive director Anil Karim. “But we haven’t had any reported cases in the whole time we’ve been open and there haven’t been any reported issues at child care centres across the province.”

On April 30,  the province released its relaunch strategy, which includes the re-opening of daycares and out-of-school care as early as May 14, though there would be limits on occupancy.

Karim said on average Kids U has been operating at 10 to 15 per cent capacity throughout the pandemic.

“It gives us a lifeline and for those parents who are scrambling, it gives their children a safe, secure environment which is absolutely critical.”

“We’re in a disaster so we have to do what we can to help out.”

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While some daycares are making sure all enrollment forms are in order, they’re also taking a wait-and-see in approach.

“At this time, we are waiting for the province to release its details on capacity and additional health requirements before we make any decision on if and when we re-open,” said Thornhill Child Care Society executive director Neela Ward.

Those sentiments were also echoed by other Calgary-based child care facilities, including non-profit [email protected] Park.

[email protected] Park will wait for further information and guidance from Alberta Health Services and Children’s Services prior to making any final decisions,” Colleen Hutton, the director of operations, said in an email to Global News.

Meanwhile, health experts are also watching closely to see how the openings are rolled out and what guidelines will be in place.

“I think this is a decision that needs to be made carefully but eventually it’s going to happen,” said Dr. Stephen Freedman with the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Freedman said it’s important for parents to consider several factors, including the policies the daycare has in place, how prevalent COVID-19 is in their community and if there are people at risk in their own home.

“I’m not concerned about massive numbers of children becoming symptomatic, what we worry about is the older population, so adults and the elderly.”

Freedman added the responsibility is also on parents to make sure they’re following the daycare’s policies.

“It’s really important that caregivers are aware if there’s anyone sick in their house, or if the children have any symptoms, that the children should not be going to daycare.”

Meanwhile, Lauren Armstrong with the Minister of Children’s Services said the province hopes to have new information and guidelines for parents and daycare operators in the coming days.

“We are moving quickly- we know centre operators and directors need this kind of information to decide how to proceed.”

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