New health guidelines allow mildly symptomatic childcare workers to go to work

WINNIPEG –

New isolation guidelines developed by the province to deal with the increase in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant are drawing criticism from the child care industry.

On Friday, a note was sent to the early learning and child care sector with new guidance regarding symptoms of COVID-19.

The new rules allow symptomatic staff to self-test and return to work if they meet all the criteria, namely:

Staff need one negative COVID test from a provincial testing site / one health facility testing site, or two negative self-administered rapid COVID-19 tests 24 hours apart.

Staff should have mild and improving symptoms, as indicated in the online screening tool, and should be free from fever for at least 24 hours without using antipyretic drugs.

Tara Mills, executive director of the Morris Early Learning Centers, said the new rules conflicted with their current disease policies.

“If you’re sick, don’t come to work. We also ask parents if your child is sick, please don’t send them,” Mills said. “So now I potentially have sick staff who come to work and therefore make the children sick.”

The new guidelines do not apply only to the child care sector. Community services for people with disabilities, child and family services, and homeless and domestic violence shelters have also been included in the new rules.

Mills is concerned about his center because it is a program for infants and preschoolers.

“None of these children are eligible to be vaccinated. So no center wants to be the source of a child who ends up in hospital or intensive care, or worse,” she said. .

The new guidelines came the same day the province lowered isolation requirements from ten days to five for people who test positive.

Jodie Kehl, executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association, said she understands that it is essential that families have access to child care, but that it is also important that early childhood educators are protected. .

“We would ask the province to provide the N-95 masks as well as a sufficient supply of rapid tests so that they can actually continue to provide this high quality licensed child care program,” Kehl said.

In the note outlining the new guidelines, the province said in part:

“If staff have new or worsening symptoms, they should immediately notify their employer and get tested as directed. He must follow public health instructions and / or self-isolate until he has received a negative test result and is able to self-declare that they are fit to return to work. “

Mills said each daycare has the power to decide what their health policies will be, and she is in talks with board members to decide how to proceed.

“To make the best decision without causing too much harm, either financially to families or physically to children and staff.”


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