‘Day-to-day’ child care amid waves of illness – Winnipeg Free Press


With so many preschoolers and the staff caring for them sick, local preschools and child care centers have been forced to temporarily close or reduce hours.

Whether it’s COVID-19, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), the flu or the common cold, parents need to stay home with sick children while daycare staff try to care for them. customers as they can with a reduced number.

“I kept hearing about the disease in the community, and we didn’t have any, so I thought we could get through it – and then you can say we were good until we let’s not be anymore,” Cathy Gardiner, executive director of Learning and Growing Daycare in Charleswood, said Thursday.

Cathy Gardiner, executive director of Learning and Growing Daycare, said that with the exception of closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she had never seen so many sick children and staff at the same time. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press Files)

“We have 22 preschoolers outside – that’s a quarter of our children. And we also have three of our 13 employees on top of that. We’re just preparing to be able to get through this. We know it will go through everyone – I know how it works.

Gardiner, who has worked in child care for three decades, said except for closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has never seen so many sick children and staff at the same time. .

“We got a lot of calls in the morning from parents saying their kids were sick, but by 10 a.m. we were sending kids home with a fever and they were throwing up.”

Gardiner said the Winnipeg center hadn’t heard of any recent cases of COVID-19 — “I don’t know if anyone is testing” — but throughout the pandemic, staff continued to clean and to disinfect the establishment.

Another Manitoba preschool operator, who did not want to be named, said his facility closed on Wednesday and would not reopen until Nov. 28.

“Over the past two weeks we have seen at least 50% of children leaving every day,” she said. “We were closed on Monday morning, because I didn’t have enough staff, but I reopened in the afternoon.

“It’s just taking it day by day. I hope by forcing everyone to stay home for four days they will be better and we can reopen on Monday.

Jodie Kehl, executive director of the Manitoba Child Care Association, said these child care services are not alone.

A survey sent to its hundreds of members earlier this week to assess the disease situation has already returned more than 350 responses, Kehl said.

“What we’re hearing is that over 87% of facilities are experiencing high absenteeism due to RSV, COVID, flu and even the common cold,” she said. “The common cold is the most common…with 91% of those reporting being sick.

“It’s a pretty clear picture of what’s going on in the province.”

Flu has affected 77% of establishments, while RSV is at 36% and COVID at 24%, she added.

Kehl said while some child care centers are harder hit than others, they are all experiencing higher than normal rates of illness.

“They report that nearly 25% of children report being sick daily, with the highest rates being between 50 and 70%,” she said.

“We are already suffering from lack of staff and now it is aggravated by absences. Some have had to reduce their hours for lack of staff, others have had to close… It’s a harsh reality.

Kehl said parents are frustrated because they can’t get sick children to daycare centers and preschools, or get a call in the middle of the day while at work to pick up their child. sick child.

Although not mandated by the provincial government, having everyone wear masks or at least staff wearing them would help fight the spread of viruses, she added.

“Nearly three years after COVID arrived here, we are still seeing chaos,” Kehl said.


Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the Winnipeg Free Press’ most versatile reporters. Whether covering City Hall, the Courthouse or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and why – but to do it. in an interesting and accessible way for readers. .


Comments are closed.