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Childcare operators call for clarity, direction amid coronavirus outbreak

(iStock Photo)
Summary

Childcare has been deemed an essential service during the coronavirus outbreak

Daycare operators say staff feel scared and need guidance

The province acknowledges the challenge but says childcare must be available for frontline workers to do their jobs

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — Childcare has been deemed an essential service during the COVID-19 outbreak, but daycare operators say staff are frightened and not getting the guidance they need.

Lisa, who runs a licensed centre in Surrey, said operators need clear direction on how to continue — because a blanket statement about social distancing does not work in their setting.

“If we have something that is a little bit more clear – I think they are talking about essential services – we haven’t been mandated to exclude parents other than for illness,” she explained.

Lisa said the lack of clarity from the province regarding daycares is making staff feel unsafe. Some are even choosing not to work for the time being, she adds, which poses a challenge to keep the child-to-care-worker ratio outlined by licensing.

“I wish there was some type of direction that says who are we opening our doors for and when. Should we be looking at limited hours? How do we determine who is eligible to receive this service at this time when there hasn’t been any direction from anyone?” she said.

The province has acknowledged the challenges, but says to ensure frontline workers can do their jobs, maintaining childcare services is necessary.

The City of Surrey announced Thursday all city-run daycares and day camps are closed to the public, starting next week. The shutdowns are being made in order to prioritize space for health workers, first-responders, and essential service workers.