FREDERICTON (GNB) – An online guide for parents has been launched to help them understand what to expect when their children return to regulated early learning and child care facilities, beginning May 19.
“While New Brunswick has had a lot of success in the past few weeks at flattening the curve, this pandemic is far from over and the health and safety of staff and children remains our top priority,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “That is why we are working closely with operators to ensure they are prepared to welcome families back safely.”
Department staff have worked closely with Public Health to develop health and safety guidelines for early learning and child care facilities and this week held online training and question and answer sessions for operators. They are also helping operators develop their COVID-19 Operational Plans.
Operational plans outline how each individual business will be able to meet the requirements set out for reopening. For early learning and child care facilities, this includes keeping groups of children separated, enhanced cleaning, as well as mandatory screening for everyone entering the facility, including parents, children and staff. The full guidelines are available online.
“These procedures are similar to the ones that were implemented in emergency child care facilities in March,” said Cardy. “Educators have done an outstanding job keeping the children of our essential workers safe. Now, we have slightly expanded group sizes for older children, who are better able to respect physical distancing, understanding that children under the age of five will be in groups of 10 children or fewer.”
To support the enhanced cleaning practices, the department will provide operators with $20 per month for each licensed space until at least the end of June. This is part of a $1 million-per-month financial package to support operators as they begin to reopen through May and June.
Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child care facilities for 14 days. Since travel-related cases are the current risk, Public Health advises parents not to allow people who have travelled outside the province to self-isolate in their household bubble if their child is attending an early learning or child care facility. Parents are to ensure that the members of their household-bubble understand their responsibility not to introduce risk which could directly impact the daycare children and staff.
Operators will be required to keep up-to-date information on children and staff, following screening practices. No one presenting with symptoms will be allowed to enter a facility until they contact 811 and are cleared to return.
“This will not be business as usual, and operators and educators will have to work together to develop creative solutions that work for their families and facilities,” said Cardy. “Depending on the facility, this might include more time playing and learning outside or planning new games and activities to help children learn and promote their overall well-being.”
Parents are encouraged to contact their child care provider to find out more about their facility’s operational plan. For more information about the guidelines and requirements, parents can contact early learning staff at 1-833-221-9339, Monday to Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., or by email at ECSAP-PASPE@gnb.ca.