Island daycares facing unique COVID-19 challenges
VICTORIA -- Meagan Brame runs the Saxe Point Daycare in Esquimalt. She says thorough hand washing for toddlers is just one of the requirements that will make running daycares especially challenging in the COVID-19 era.
In particular, she says physical distancing will be nearly impossible.
“It is really hard, children require touch to be emotionally comforted and to be stable, and to learn how to interact with people and to socialize,” Brame said.
Keeping young children apart or having them wear non-medical masks simply isn’t realistic at daycares, says Dr. Richard Stanwick, Chief Medical Health Officer with Island Health.
“For kids we’re not asking for six feet, but we are asking for fewer encounters, physical encounters,” Stanwick said.
For her part, Brame is focusing on hand hygiene, making sure that there are fewer kids than normal at each lunch table and that naps spaces are more spread out.
She says that so far, keeping up with sanitizing goals has been the biggest change during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Finding the time to do all the cleaning [has been challenging], because it’s not like school age kids where you can turn your back on them for periods of time.”
Nicole Wilson’s son goes to the daycare and she says it’s a vital service for her family.
“My husband and I both work,” she notes. “I’m a teacher going back into the schools, so we both definitely need that daycare option.”
Wilson says she doesn’t have any concerns about the daycare itself, but hopes all families act responsibly.
“The daycare has done their part to make sure it’s safe for our kids. But, we need to make sure as parents that we’re doing our part to make sure we’re not sending in the kids when they’re sick.”
Despite some high-profile outbreaks at daycares in Montreal and Toronto a few weeks ago, Stanwick says its not likely children will be spreading the coronavirus here.
“The evidence to date suggests that children are not great transmitters of the virus,” said Stanwick.
But, he adds that keeping children home when they’re sick will be critical, along with excellent hand hygiene.