Nova Scotia daycares prepare to reopen as target date draws near
Province aiming for June 8, but decision to be made nearer the date
Nova Scotia daycares are preparing to reopen as the June target date draws near.
But the chair of the Nova Scotia Childhood Education Action Group says parents shouldn't get their hopes up just yet.
"It looks like we won't open until it's safe to do so," Donna Buckland told CBC's Information Morning on Wednesday.
"We have June 8 as a target date, but that's not necessarily the date we're going to open. We're going to wait until the community spread has stopped and then we'll be able to open."
Nova Scotia is still reporting new cases of COVID-19 each day and on Tuesday public health officials attributed one of the new cases to community spread.
Earlier this month, Premier Stephen McNeil announced the province is aiming to reopen daycares as early as June 8, with a final decision being made closer to that date.
Buckland, who is also the co-owner and executive director of Giant Steps Children's Centre, met with the province's chief medical officer of health last week to discuss reopenings.
She said Dr. Robert Strang understands it's "virtually impossible" for children to physically distance in daycare settings and there will continue to be a risk.
"Dr. Strang said that as we move out of this first wave, we're not going to be at zero risk again until we have a [vaccine]," she said.
With just more than two weeks to prepare for a potential reopening, Buckland said daycares are still discussing how to protect the children.
She said daycares are looking into what personal protective equipment would work best — and it may not include masks.
"We like for children to see our expressions and it's really important for children that are non-verbal to be able to see the educator's expression — whether they're happy or sad or that kind of thing because they read those," she said.
"And so wearing masks, not only might they frighten little children, but they wouldn't be able to read our expressions."
In regards to keeping surfaces clean, Buckland said the daycare industry already has a set routine of cleaning protocols that keep children safe from germs.
"We have a handwashing policy. We have a list of toys that have to be washed on a certain day. We wash all the cupboards and we wash the bedding," she said.
"We literally have a list of things that we clean on a daily basis, so we're a couple of steps ahead of some other industries."
Although daycares are prepared to keep the area clean, there are still some questions up in the air.
Buckland said a report has been submitted to public health officials asking if COVID-19 testing will be necessary for children, parents and daycare staff.
"We'll know the answers to these questions once the report's released, so we really don't know at this point," she said.
Buckland said all the precautions and protocols will be worth the wait to make sure the children are safe to come back.
"It's been so long and children grow so quickly and they learn so much," she said.
"So we've been staying in touch with them on Facebook ... reading them stories and seeing videos that their parents post and that kind of thing. It's been lovely to see that, but it's been really hard."