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‘This has to be done right’: Some city-run child-care centres set to reopen on June 29
Published Friday, June 12, 2020 5:48PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 12, 2020 8:19PM EDT
While the Ontario government has allowed the reopening of child-care centres, the city of Toronto said it will be gradually reopening city-run child-care facilities, with some opening their doors again by the end of the month.
During a news conference on Friday, Mayor John Tory said the 47 child-care centres operated by the city cannot reopen until the sites meet the guidelines set by the province to reopen safely.
"The safety of our children is the most important thing. We're working to reopen our city child-care centres as quickly as we can while making sure that they will comply with all of the applicable provincial requirements and public health guidelines established to stop the spread of COVID-19," Tory said."This has to be done right."
Some of the requirements in the guidelines include limiting cohort sizes, having a COVID-19 response plan if someone connected to the centre is exposed to the virus, screening staff and children prior to entering, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, not allowin visitors in the centres, and implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.
The Ontario government said earlier this week that all licenced child-care facilities in Ontario could reopen on Friday, with strict public health measures in place.
Most centres have said they need more time to prepare.
To determine which sites can be ready for reopening with the guidelines in place, Tory said city staff conducted an assessment of the centres.
Based on that assessment, 11 childcare centres will reopen by June 29. An additional 10 centres will open throughout July and 19 more will open in September. Seven other centres are on hold pending further analysis.
The city said it is developing a plan in the event the demand exceeds the number of available spots. According to the province, the highest priority goes to children of front-line workers.
"After that, the province has suggested that municipalities may want to look at families who are working. So, we have families who are going out to work, whether that's one parent or two. And then finally taking into consideration where there may be a special need or special circumstance," Shanley McNamee, the city's general manager for Children's Services, said.
Tory said fees at city-run child-care centres will remain at the same rate as before the closure in March due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the eight emergency child-care centres for children of front-line workers in the city will be closed by June 26.
Tory said staff will be working with families at those emergency child-care centres to find an alternative arrangement for their children.
"Reopening child-care facilities is an important milestone in our recovery journey, and it will help parents and guardians as more and more workplaces reopen," Tory said.
"While it won't be a risk-free environment, our staff will be doing everything they can to make it safe for children and for child-care staff to return and have the systems in place to respond should anyone come into contact with COVID-19."