Coronavirus (COVID-19): Childcare

Frequently Asked Questions for Operators

Updated: May 13, 2021.

Print version available.
Is it safe to work in child care?
Updated: 13 May 2021, 2021

Yes. Child care remains a safe workplace.

We’ve worked closely with Public Health to develop layers of protection which make child care settings as safe as possible.

What changes were announced on May 28? Why?
Updated: 28 May 2021, 2021

Thanks to the strong commitment of Nova Scotians to follow public health guidelines, our province has seen a rapid decline in new COVID-19 cases during this third wave.

As of June 2, licensed child-care centres across the province can return to 100 per cent capacity.

What does this mean for families who voluntarily kept their children home from child care?
Updated: 28 May 2021, 2021

Families whose circumstances mean they are not ready to access their child-care space may continue to keep their child home and have their space held until June 30 without paying fees.

Families are encouraged to talk to their providers regarding timing of re-enrolling their child in licensed child care.

As of July 1, families must pay their fees or withdraw from child care. If they are not returning, their space will no longer be held.

How is government going to support my child care centre/provider?
Updated: 28 May 2021, 2021

To facilitate this transition, the Operational Cost Grant (OCG), the emergency funding for operational and staffing support, will continue to be provided on a sliding-scale until a centre reaches its pre-lockdown attendance, or until June 30, whichever comes first.

This is the same approach that was used when the sector reopened in June 2020. OCG funding for Family Home providers will also be ending as of June 30.

There is a layered public health approach in child care- stay home if you’re feeling sick, daily screenings and free PPE for the sector, including hand sanitizers and masks for staff and children.

The open dialogue between our department, Public Health and the sector continues. We’re working together to be responsive to the sector.

Who should be getting an asymptomatic COVID-19 test?
Updated: 17 May 2021, 2021

Regular asymptomatic testing is encouraged for everyone. Nova Scotians who have a lot of contacts through their work should get tested weekly.

As long as you do not have symptoms, you do not need to isolate while awaiting the results of an asymptomatic test.

Who should be using the COVID-19 Daily Checklist and how?
Updated: 15 July 2021, 2021

Everyone should refer to the COVID-19 Daily Checklist before entering a child care setting.

Answer the questions in order.

  • If you answer yes to a question, follow the instructions.
  • If you answer no, move on to the next question.

Child care settings should develop a plan to clearly communicate to staff and families the need to monitor themselves and/or their child daily for symptoms and to ensure they are not required to self-isolate before sending them to child care.

Are children in regulated child care programs required to wear masks?
Updated: 15 July 2021, 2021

Children 12 years of age and under in child care settings are not required to wear a mask while indoors; however, they may choose to continue wearing one at their/their families’ discretion.

If a staff member, child, or family member has one symptom or any worsening health symptoms, should they enter the centre?
Updated: 15 July 2021, 2021

No.

No. If a staff member, child, or family member identifies any new or worsening health symptoms while doing the ‘Daily COVID-19 Check List’, they should return home immediately and book a COVID-19 test.

What are the masking protocols for child care centre staff?
Updated: 30 April 2021, 2021

Child care staff must wear a non-medical mask, except for when they are eating, drinking, or outdoors. Where possible, physical distance should be maintained.

When staff are eating or drinking in an indoor space with others, every effort should be made to maintain a physical distance of at least 2 meters. Eating outdoors is encouraged when possible.

For young children, it is hard to physically distance. What measures can be taken to decrease risk?
Updated: 30 April 2021, 2021

Early Childhood Educators have been working extremely hard and have consistently followed public health guidelines to decrease risk in child care settings.

Child care providers should continue to use a layered approach, including masking, physical distancing, handing washing, frequent cleaning, staying outdoors as much as possible, and staying in cohorts/groupings. These measures have kept our children safe and should continue to be used.

The provincial lockdown will help reduce spread in community and result in fewer children in child care. Child care continue to follow public health guidelines for their sector, including spacing children out when they’re sleeping.

With nicer weather, centres can also have children outside more often, reducing the risk of spread. We encourage all staff to read and familiarize themselves with the guidelines that have been created to reduce risk.

Details can be found in the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings document available here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19-Childcare-setting-guidan...

Are masks required for children or staff outdoors?
Updated: 18 June 2021, 2021

Masks are not required when outdoors.

What happens if the centre must close because of a Covid-19 outbreak?
Updated: 27 April 2021, 2021

EECD will work directly with the child care centre if this is the case, as we have been with other centres.

Parents will not be charged fees and EECD will work with child care centres to support staffing and operational pressures.

What is meant by ‘deep cleaning’
Updated: 30 April 2021, 2021

Deep cleaning involves frequent surface cleaning followed by a disinfectant, approved by Health Canada, to kill germs on surfaces.

Disinfectant is most effective after surfaces have been cleaned, i.e. soap and water.

Full details on environmental cleaning can be found on page 9 in the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Child Care Setting document available here: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19-Childcare-setting-guidan...

What if I want to close?
Updated: 27 April 2021, 2021

Centres that voluntarily close will not be eligible for funding.

Why are cases or exposures of Covid-19 in child care centres not reported publicly?
Updated: 30 April 2021, 2021

For reasons of confidentiality and privacy, detailed information on an outbreak or exposure will not be disclosed unless deemed necessary for public safety.

If there is an exposure, there will be direct notification to the centre, staff, and families. Public Health will determine if a public notification is required.

Public notices are issued when public health feels that affected or exposed people cannot all be notified directly.

For additional information about cases in your area/health zone, please visit: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/data/#dashboard

If a parent calls my centre looking for space, where do I direct their call?
Updated: 13 May 2021, 2021

Parents who need child care during lockdown so they can continue to work should call 1-877-223-9555 or e-mail ECDServices@novascotia.ca.

We value the work of Early Childhood Educators and Centres to support families as we move through the pandemic.

Are fans and air conditioners safe for use in child care settings?
Updated: 18 June 2021, 2021

To increase ventilation open windows if possible and safe to do so.

  • Fans can be used if they are positioned in front of an open window or door to facilitate movement of fresh air.
  • They should not be placed directly next to anyone. In all other instances, fans should not be used because they only serve to recirculate air already in the classroom.
  • Ensure all ventilation and cooling systems operate properly and are routinely maintained according to manufacture specifications.

Additional information can be found in the “COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for Child Care Settings” document: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/COVID-19-Childcare-setting-guidan...

What is the current guidance for wading and swimming pools for child care settings?
Updated: 15 July 2021, 2021

Guidance for pools may now return to pre-covid measures. Child care centres are considered as public places and any swimming pool, including a private residential pool used by the children in a centre shall be considered a public pool.

Swimming pools shall comply with the Nova Scotia Department of Health Guidelines for Swimming Pools and any municipal regulations for that area. Hot tubs shall not be used.

Portable wading pools shall be of rigid molded construction designed as wading pools for toddlers and are acceptable providing that:

  • The pool and depth of water are less than twelve (12) inches.
  • Constant supervision is provided when the pool is being used or children are present.
  • The pool is to be emptied and disinfected after each use.
  • The pool is drained at the end of outdoor play and properly stored to prevent water from collecting in the pool. 
  • Inflatable pools, even if inflated to less than twelve (12) inches shall not be used.
Is water play allowable in child care settings?
Updated: 15 July 2021, 2021

Yes. However, please note the following guidance:

  • All staff and children shall wash their hands before and after water play.
  • The water play table shall be disinfected with chlorine bleach solution before filling it with water.
  • The water play container shall be drained, cleaned and disinfected after each use.
  • Toys used in water play are to be cleaned and disinfected daily.
  • Children with open sores or wounds shall not be allowed to play in the water table.
  • Children should be carefully supervised to make sure they don’t drink the water.
  • There must be constant supervision of children when there is any water present, including wading pools, tubs or sinks.