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Child care providers concerned about reopening too soon without clear guidance from province

Last Updated May 6, 2020 at 8:16 pm PDT

Children's backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. The Saskatchewan Government is offering child-care for parents already working or headed back next month under its reopen plan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Daycare operators are concerned about reopening too soon without proper guidance from health officials

During a conference call last week, hundreds of operators were initially told they can safely run at full capacity again

The province announced plans to reopening B.C. Wednesday

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Clearer guidelines are needed, say daycare operators worried about reopening at full capacity while still following new safety rules.

Ruth Newlove runs a daycare in Victoria and is used to having as many as seven kids in her home, but she says she’s not open now, and she’s and not comfortable reopening anytime soon.

“My main concern is that we be given very clear guidelines from, either the Ministry of Health or from health authorities as to what those safe guidelines are and clear across the board,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“I would be concerned about opening up to full capacity and being able to keep up with, what I believe, are the safe practices of cleaning and screening of all children.”

Newlove says during a conference call last week, hundreds of operators were initially told they can safely run at full capacity again.

She also says she’s unsure when temporary emergency funding will be cut for operators choosing to stay closed, saying she hasn’t heard anything about it yet.

“There’s a lot of concern with child care providers that if they have to keep the numbers low to be able to keep up with the new guidelines, they may not make it.  I’d like to believe that they wouldn’t cut my funding if I remain closed, but we don’t know how long the funding is in place for.”

RELATED: Childcare operators call for clarity, direction amid coronavirus outbreak

There is some doubt as to how long Newlove could operate with fewer children at her daycare.

“I would be able to, in the short term, keep it operating with four to five [children], but long term, maybe not.”

However, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says, “Going back to full capacity is not exactly where we are right now.”

She explains more safety measures for early childhood educators, child care providers, and children will be released soon.

“We will, and have been, working on some more guidance, and it will mean smaller numbers, it will mean making sure that we talk about physical touching for young kids because we know that the physically distancing concept is not relevant, really, for young children,” Henry says.

She adds she doesn’t expect young children to be wearing masks, noting it would be difficult especially for younger children.

“There are lots of innovative ways we can do things safely for both the child care providers and for the children in their care.”

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan says no one will be pressured to open too early.

On Wednesday, the province released new guidelines for reopening B.C. gradually and included childcare operators would be required to do symptom screening and frequent cleaning.