Nfld. & Labrador

This woman can't wait to see kids back at her daycare — but she's nervous, too

Some daycares in Newfoundland and Labrador will be welcoming back more children Monday — but there will be increased regulations on operators.

Half capacity, screening for COVID-19, increased cleaning included in regulations

Mary Walsh, seen here in 2014, says it will be different when her daycare opens the doors Monday, but she's prepared. (CBC)

As the provincial government prepares to further reduce public health restrictions by moving to Alert Level 4 in its COVID-19 plan, some daycare centres are getting ready to welcome back more children on Monday. 

Mary Walsh, owner of Merry Care Daycare in Conception Bay South, says she and her staff have been working to prepare the daycare to reopen under the government's new guidelines.

"I can say I'm very excited because we've missed our children and we're ready to come back and see them, but a little bit scared too because it's a new world," she said.

"But we're well prepared, we've known what we need to do, the government has been very good in sending out policies and guidelines.… It'll be good, we'll get through it, but it's going to be a different world."

Increased regulations 

On Monday, the children of essential workers and anyone going back to work in Level 4 will be permitted to avail of child-care services — but there will be new regulations placed on daycare operators.

Under the new policy, child-care centres must run at half their licensed capacity, up to a maximum of 30 people, anyone entering a centre must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and must wash their hands, and cleaning practices must be enhanced.

In addition, proper physical distancing and handwashing guidelines must be followed.

For Walsh, that means accepting eight children instead of the usual 16 and moving around some items in the daycare.

"We've changed some things in the room to make sure we can keep our six-feet distancing," she said.

"We've removed things that are not easy to clean, like we will not have any stuffed toys."

Walsh says she's moved furniture and removed soft toys to keep children apart and keep the daycare clean. (Marina von Stackelberg/CBC)

While Walsh said she'll be stepping up the cleaning routines around her daycare — with high touch surfaces getting special attention — keeping clean should be nothing new for the operator of any child-care centre.

"We've always had to sanitize in the morning before we open up in the morning. We always had to keep the place clean and tidy and we always sanitized in the evening before we left," she said.

"We're going to be more concerned over doing this, and we're going to be doing this during the day too."

Merry Care Daycare has also sent out notices to parents about the new regulations, Walsh said, and they have set up a Facebook page to keep in contact with parents.

And while Walsh said it will take some extra effort to help the children follow physical distancing rules, she believes the children will adapt quickly and be separated while still being with their friends.

"It's not as much enforcing as being prepared and having things planned in a different way so children aren't in little clusters."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

With files from The St. John's Morning Show

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