Novel Coronavirus COVID-19

Manitoba Families Townhalls with Dr. Roussin

ELCC General questions – April 16, 2020


The following questions and answers (Q&As) are provided in follow-up to the webinar held on April 16 with Dr. Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Provincial Public Health Officer. The webinar was for the Early Leaning and Child Care sector.

Remember: Child care facilities have excellent practises in place to ensure the health of child care providers and children. Information will continue to be provided to the sector and the ELCC Practice Guide will be updated if necessary. Department and facility staff have a responsibility to ensure that they review all information shared by the department related to ongoing prevention efforts, as well as health management in the event that a child or adult becomes ill while at the facility.

Please also ensure that you are reviewing and implementing the policies and practices that are articulated in circulars issued by the departments, as well as the information provided in the ELCC Practice Guide. Circulars and Practice guides also contain important prevention information that should be referred to should facilities have additional questions.

Common Questions and Answers

How do we provide care to small children given social distancing advice?

  • The way we provide care to children has not changed. Children with no symptoms should continue to be treated as one typically would care for a child. This includes comforting and appropriate personal contact.
  • Follow the ELCC Practice Guide for information on how to care for children, while incorporating some social distancing measures into your child care setting when it is possible to do so (e.g., meal and nap times).

Child care facilities can have up to 16 children, plus staff. This is contrary to the “less than 10 people in a public gathering” direction. Why are the rules for child care different?

  • The extended public health order restricting operations of non-critical businesses and limiting public gatherings to no more than 10 specifically excludes child care and social services providers.
  • Child care facilities are excluded from this public health directive because they are a critical service. This is consistent with other critical services that are excluded and have more than 10 people in a workplace.
  • Licensed child care centres can continue to provide services to children as long as the care is limited to no more than 16 children per centre.
  • Some larger centres with segregated rooms and separate external entrances are able to offer care for up to 16 children per room.
  • Homebased child care providers can continue to provide care to the number of children for which they are licensed
  • In addition, child care providers should continue existing and enhanced health and safety practices. This includes asking screening questions before children enter the facility, stay-at-home orders for staff and children who are exhibiting symptoms, as well as rigorous sanitation practices.

How do we know when staff or children need to self-isolate? How do we isolate them?

Public health officials will follow up with anyone who is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and will advise on the appropriateness of isolation. Public health officials will also advise and provide detailed instructions to anyone needing to self-isolate.

  • Children who become ill
    • Children and staff do not need to wear PPE if they are well.
    • Everyone will be screened, so there are no ill children are attending.
    • If a child becomes ill during the day, do your best to isolate them in a separate room in accordance with good child care practices that provide age and developmentally-appropriate safety and reassurance.
    • Call their parents or guardian to arrange pick up as soon as possible.
    • If a separate room is not available, the child needs to be kept at least two meters away from other children.
    • If the child will wear a mask, they should do so.
    • If child care providers are not able to be physically distant or the child requires personal care including diapering or toileting support, the child care provider should put on full PPE.
    • Remember, only wear PPE if a child falls ill with cold/flu symptoms while in your care.
  • Staff members who become ill
    • Ill staff members should not attend work and contact their facility to ensure staff coverage even mild symptoms should keep you from going to work.
    • If they become sick while at work, staff should do their best to leave the facility immediately if other staff are able to care for children. If this is not possible, affected staff or home care providers should self-isolate and parents should be called to pick up the children.
    • Exercise judgement and ensure that the children in your care are safe until their parents arrive
    • In the case of a child care home, the child care provider should self-isolate and call parents to come pick up children in their care.
    • If a child care provider (particularly a home-based provider who is the only individual caring for the children) is not able to self-isolate, full PPE equipment should be put on, although child care providers should do their best to maintain distance from the children.
    • In all cases, contact Health Links-Info Santé for additional information.

What is the process if a staff, child parent or guardian tests positive for COVID-19?

Public health officials will advise and provide detailed instructions to anyone needing to self-isolate and will provide advice on what needs to take place. Public health will follow up with anyone who is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, including child care providers if applicable, and will advise on the appropriateness of isolation and when the discontinuance of isolation protocols can be considered.

In a child care setting, when do we wear PPE?

  • Recommendations have evolved over time.
  • Masks are not recommended for day-to-day provision of child care.
  • As outlined in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Early Learning and Child Care Practice Guidance, children and staff who are ill should not be attending a child care facility centre or home and screening practices should be in place. As a result, PPE is not needed for day to day provision of child care,
  • Masks are only needed if a child, child care provider or staff develops cold/flu-like symptoms during the day.
  • If a mask is required because a child or staff member have developed cold/flu symptoms, use the procedural masks provided.
  • Cloth or homemade masks provide some protection but largely they are for the health of around you. It is similar to sneezing into your arm.
  • If you choose to wear a mask, recognize the risks in improper wearing or removal and familiarize yourself with the correct processes provided by the department.
  • Wearing a mask is an option, but know that it should not change anything you do. You should not have lax screening, you should continue social distancing and frequently wash your hands.

In some provinces (Ontario), the group size for child care programs have been reduce to 5. Is Manitoba considering a reduction in permitted group sizes in child care programs?

  • This is inaccurate: while Ontario has reduced the size of permitted public gatherings to five people, they specifically exclude child care programs from this requirement. This is consistent with the approach here in Manitoba.
  • Manitoba is not considering a reduction to the maximum number of children who can be cared for in centres and homes at this time. All facilities will be kept up to date by the department as the situation evolves. The most up to date Public health advice will be provided to facilities as and when it becomes available.

We hear the virus can live on different surfaces. How often would materials (toys, etc) need to be cleaned?

If the child care centre is absent of an ill child or worker, routine cleaning practices will suffice. There is no need to change any flooring (e.g., replacing carpet with tile).

If someone becomes ill, cleaning and sanitizing procedures should be implemented. Disinfect all of the toys/items that children have touched. Limit sharing of many things, especially things that go in the mouth. Wear gloves and a mask for cleaning and sanitizing procedures after someone becomes ill.

What are the recommendations surrounding pick up and drop off time for programs? Should programs be restricting families from entering the premises?

  • Where possible, child care providers can implement procedures to minimize traffic during drop off and pick-ups to support social distancing
  • If this is not possible, parents should be directed to use hand sanitizer and/or wash hands upon entering the facility.
  • No one showing symptoms should be allowed to enter.

Does answering “yes” to the travel related screening questions and to the questions related to contact with anyone who has been ill apply to our parents who are critical workers? For example, many health care workers may have had contact. Similarly, parents in trucking industry will have travelled outside of Manitoba.

No, critical service workers are exempt from the screening criteria provided they are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and no one in their household is displaying symptoms. These people include: health care providers, police officers, emergency services personnel, corrections officers, truckers drivers, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, social service workers, as well as workers engaged in the construction or maintenance of critical infrastructure.

Do you believe it is safe for workers who are immunocompromised (e.g., have asthma) to come to work? Should children attend that are immunocompromised?

Individuals who are immunocompromised or who have underlying health conditions, such as cardiac issues, are at increased risk for severe complications of COVID. If home-based providers, facility staff or parents have any concerns, they should discuss with their health care providers.

How do you recommend social distancing in a child care environment?

  • Social Distancing is the two-metre rule between people. It is important to note that social distancing advice is meant for interactions among colleagues, strangers and adults, etc.
  • When working in a child care setting:
    • Children with no symptoms should continue to be treated as you typically would care for a child.
    • Where possible, arrange spaces to encourage more separation. For example, spacing children to avoid close contact during meal and nap times and assigning a designated chair and table for each child.
    • Remember that young children need easy to understand visual prompts. For example, use tape on the floor, hoops, mats or other items that can mark off personal space. Another idea is to organize play activities with a visual cue about how many children should be in that area. For (example, two chairs next to an activity with markers or numbers taped to the floor.).
  • See the ELCC Practice Guide for additional suggestions.

How do I know if it is the flu or COVID-19?

Without testing for COVID-19, this is difficult to know. This is why we ask people who are sick to isolate, monitor their symptoms, and if they worsen or do not go away, to consult a doctor or Health Links- Info Santé (204-788-8200 or 1-888-315-9257).

How can staff best reduce risk for their families at home? What steps should staff be taking to transition from work to home life?

Following universal precautions is the foremost defense against transferring the virus, such as increased sanitizing, proper use of PPE when required and frequent hand washing. Get credible information and update your knowledge of the virus. The virus is spread through close, prolonged contact. Information on the virus can be found on the Manitoba COVID-19 website (

Child Care Centre By-Laws require we hold an AGM for our members. How do we anticipate that this should be handled for 2020? Those of us with a fiscal year end of March 31st hold the AGM in June.

AGMs can be held via teleconference.

What are appropriate sanitizers/disinfectants?

For a full list of hard-surface disinfectants that meet Health Canada's requirements, visit:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water is better than using hand sanitizer.

If staff wear prescription glasses, would they be exempt from wearing eye shields/face shields or are they expected to wear them over top of their glasses?

Eye shields are to be worn on top of prescription glasses. Remember, eye shields are only worn in child care settings if:

  • a child becomes ill while at the centre and requires physical care while their parents come to pick them up; or
  • if a home-based provider falls ill and cannot self-isolate until parents arrive to collect their children.

Should we be wearing PPE when sanitizing? Should we be sanitizing every day?

Staff should be following routine cleaning practices. If someone becomes ill, cleaning and sanitizing procedures should be implemented. See the ELCC Practice Guide for information on cleaning and disinfecting.

Are we able to go out and walk in the community?

Yes, staff may continue to take children outside for activities and for walks. Staff and children must wash their hands with soap and water upon return inside.

Can we use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available?

Although washing your hands regularly with soap and water is the best prevention against the virus, hand sanitizer can be used. Staff should follow product directions. Always supervise young children when using hand sanitizers, as ingesting even small amounts of sanitizer can be fatal.

Are child care providers essential workers?

Yes, businesses that "provide child care services for essential workers, and home child care services provided for eight or fewer children" are listed in the Public Health Order as essential services.

If children are napping, should programs supply all bedding and how often do cots, mats and bedding need to be laundered?

Because only well children should attend child care facilities, follow routine practices related to bedding materials. Practice social distancing when laying out cots/mats for nap periods.